Irish dancers have success at state competition

Chloe Lawther, Kalaya Ridley and Amity Croft with their dance teacher Michelle Bilton after won the under 10 three hand section trophy at the Victorian Irish Dancing Championships. Pictures: MIKAYLA VAN LOON.

By Mikayla van Loon

Three young girls have taken the Victorian Irish Dancing Championships by storm, bringing home the title in their division for one Mount Evelyn school of dance.

Kalaya Ridley, Chloe Lawther and Amity Croft, who have all been dancing for two to five years, competed in the under 10 three hand section of the championships.

Judged on their feet placement, the way they hold their bodies and how they move together, the three girls must have impressed the judges in their ability as performers.

Having not been able to practice in person until three weeks prior to the competition in December, dance teacher Michelle Bilton of Bilton Academy said the girls did an excellent job.

“It’s just really nice. It’s really nice because none of them have won before and it was Chloe and Amity’s first time dancing in the state championship, so that was amazing for them,” she said.

For the last two years, Ms Bilton said her students have been training via online classes and for the most part Amity, Kalaya and Chloe were practicing their competition winning dance separately, mimicking the hand holding on their own.

“It was pretty good fun trying to teach them together when they weren’t together,” Ms Bilton said.

Bilton Academy dancers usually participate in a few competitions throughout the year but because of the pandemic, this was the first one in some time.

“They hadn’t been in competition for ages because we’ve all been in lockdown and weren’t able to do it.”

With the lockdowns hopefully behind us, Ms Bilton said regular classes will return in the first week of February, along with the normal calendar of dancing appearances at local events.

“The Tulip Festival has a Celtic weekend so we always dance at that and then we dance at the Yarra Glen races on Cup Day usually and the Lavender Festival.”