St. Patrick’s Day parade to feature Irish dancers

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    By Erica Soelberg

    If you want to do more than prevent a pinch, come watch the Irish dancers of the St. Patrick”s Day parade on Saturday, March 15.

    This year, the streets will be filled with bagpipes, marching bands, floats and, of course, Irish dancers.

    The 24th annual parade will begin at 10:00 a.m. at 400 West and 200 North in Salt Lake City. It will move South, turning to continue through the Gateway Center on Rio Grande Street to 200 South where it will turn to disband at the intersection of 300 West.

    Dancers from the Shelley School of Irish Dance will prance down the city”s streets in honor of St. Patrick”s Day.

    Tina Shelley, the founder and teacher of the Shelley School of Irish Dance, is the only certified Irish dance teacher in Utah County.

    “I have qualified myself through the Irish Dance commission of Ireland,” Shelley said. “I can teach the students all they need to know through the championship level.”

    Shelley started dancing at the age of six and competed at the national level through high school and at the top level for several years.

    At BYU, Shelley soloed with “Christmas Around the World” and is now a part time teacher and choreographer for the folk dancers.

    She also teaches classes in Orem at the Center Stage Performing Arts Studio for people of all ages.

    A basic introduction class to Irish dancing is offered on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is a nine-week class and costs $80 for the entire training period.

    “I do this class in waves, Shelley said. “It”s not a constant thing. I have to get a waiting list for the basic class, and then once I get enough people, I”ll teach the class again.”

    Anyone of any age can enroll in this class, Shelley said.

    Many adults and teenagers participate in the class.

    “If the students want to continue after the basic class, I integrate them into the school according to age group and ability,” Shelley said. “The adult class is more for fun, though.”

    Sarah Sanderson, one of Shelly”s top team dancers, said there are a few BYU students who participate and come all the time to class.

    “They do it mostly for fun and exercise,” she said.

    Sanderson started Irish dancing when she was 10 years old but said it doesn”t really matter when you start.

    “I took ballet before, but I never really liked it,” Sanderson said. “Everything just clicked with Irish. I guess I have the special talents for Irish that I didn”t have with others.”

    She said they do a lot of leaping and jumping and have to keep their legs crossed with their feet turned out.

    “It”s a lot to think about at once,” Sanderson said.

    Sanderson, along with some of her fellow dancers, will be one of the 200 entries in the St. Patrick”s Day parade.

    The parade plaza will also offer games, prizes, refreshments and vendors of various Celtic wares.

    [Editor”s Note: an earlier version of this story had an incorrect location for the parade.]

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