Student travels to Ireland, competes in dance competition


Natalie Morel, Associate Editor

Early in the morning, Kayla Amick woke up in Ireland, ready to take the stage with dancers from all over the world. After getting ready, she put on her shoes. She then lined up backstage with all of the dancers and prepared to go on to the stage, competing against them. 

Sophomore Kayla Amick has been Irish dancing since she was four years old. She dances at O’Kennedy-Holland Irish Dance Academy and has also been dancing competitively since she was eight years old. In late February, she got the opportunity to travel to Ireland for one of her competitions. 

Amick danced two solo dances at the competition and although she did not place in the top half, she still had many fun experiences while she was in Ireland. She wears a different pair of shoes for each dance and the movements and what she is being judged for also differs between the two dances. Amick explained the differences between her two dances.

“[I] do one dance in kind of tap shoes, but they’re a little bit different, and then another shoe that’s softer, basically a ballet shoe,” Amick said. 

When she wears the harder shoes, the dance is more about rhythm and timing, while the dance with the softer shoe has high kicks and she moves around the stage more. 

Amick explained how the competition worked. Although she only danced for one day, the competition was on a larger scale and ran for about a week. 

“Everyone has a number, and you line up backstage. You go in three at a time, because everybody uses the same music. So for the harder shoe . . . that one is about a minute and a half. You do the dance all together, go back off stage, and then you switch shoes. For the softer shoe you go up two at a time and then dance around,” Amick said. 

Amick also talked about how long she trains for her competitions. She said that she trains year round for them, practicing almost every day. 

“I train every day after school, and then I have practice three  times a week,” Amick said.  

Eileen O’Kennedy-Dunlap is the owner of the O’Kennedy-Holland Irish Dance Academy and has taught Amick throughout her entire dance career. She talked about what Amick is like as a student. 

“She’s gold; she is very attentive and polite. [She is] one of the most positive people I have ever had in class,” O’Kennedy-Dunlap said. 

O’Kennedy-Dunlap said that Amick is always working hard during her classes. 

“She’s very responsive to her corrections and year after year, she has [been] very determined to be amazing,” O’Kennedy-Dunlap said. 

She also spoke about how willing Amick is to help other students in her classes. 

 “[She is] very helpful to all the other kids, everybody’s best friend,” O’Kennedy-Dunlap said. 

Along with helping the student’s in her classes, Amick also helps teach the younger students. 

“We taught them [the younger students] a little dance, so that was fun. Kayla loves to help teach the kids, she’s really good with that,” O’Kennedy-Dunlap said.  

Serena Guo, a junior, has been dancing with Amick for around ten years. She explained what she likes about Amick’s dancing. 

“Her dancing is really sharp and it’s crisp. You can see her movements really clearly and she’s very clean,” Guo said. 

Since Guo and Amick have been dancing together for ten years, Guo said that they have been able to grow together. She said that besides Amick being a great dancer, she is also always willing to help anyone out who needs it. 

Guo said that some of her favorite memories with Amick happen when they are going to different competitions. 

“I think probably the most fun we have is during show season and Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up. That’s a huge thing, so we just go to bars and restaurants and dance together. That’s really fun,” Guo said. 

Amick went into more detail about what she is doing for Saint Patrick’s day this year. 

“We dance at pubs and restaurants pretty much the entire day and then do more performances on the eighteenth,” Amick said. 

O’Kennedy-Dunlap also spoke about their plans for Saint Patrick’s day. 

“I think we have eight or nine shows, it’s kind of a circus, a green circus. It’s a lot of fun, the kids just have a riot. . . . We’ll start out in Jackson and then hit Akron, Medina and Canton, we’ve got a lot of shows,” O’Kennedy-Dunlap said. 

Although Amick has competed since she was eight and dances at lots of shows, this was her first time traveling to Ireland for a competition. She talked about what a good time she had and spoke about her first impression of not only the country but also the other dancers there. 

“The country [is] so pretty, just gorgeous and the dancing, it’s so much different over there because it’s international. There’s people from all over the world,” Amick said. 

She explained that dancers in Ireland were different from the dancers she has seen in America. 

“They were very powerful and sharp and they lifted high off the ground,” Amick said. 

Along with dancing in Ireland, Amick also got to explore the country. She spoke about her favorite parts about the country in general. 

“All the scenery, it was so pretty and the people are really nice over there,” Amick said. 

Amick said that her favorite moment from her trip happened on the very last day. When she got the opportunity to dance with some of the people she met there. 

“On the very last day, we were in Dublin, and we were in a pub and I was dancing with [a] girl who was a retired dancer,” Amick said. 

Although Amick did not place at her competition, she still says that she had an amazing time in Ireland. She will perform on March 17 and 18 for Saint Patrick’s day. 

Click HERE for more Lantern coverage on dancers at Revere High School.