Rockford teen to compete in the world Irish dance championships in Ireland

Elizabeth Davies

At first glance, Taylor Eighmy’s bedroom looks like it could belong to any 17-year-old girl.

But when you step inside and look closer, you’ll see that the girlfriends in her pictures have ribbon-curled hair. The black shoes on her bed have hard, heeled soles. The outfit in her dress bag has a rhinestone-covered flared skirt. 

It is the bedroom of a girl awash in the world of Irish dance — and that fits this Auburn High School junior to a tee.

“I really like competing,” Eighmy said. “It’s just really fun for me to be on stage. Having the whole crowd clapping and the Irish music playing is a really good time.”

This spring, Eighmy will take her competitive dancing to a whole new level: She will be on stage at the World Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She earned her place at that competition by placing 12th out of 130 dancers at the Mid-America Regional Championships in November.

Recently, she took a four-day trip to Ireland to meet with a dancing coach in preparation for her appearance at Worlds.

“It’s really cool because this is so much a part of their culture,” she said, adding that even her Dublin cab driver was familiar with the competitive Irish dancing circuit. “They know all about Irish dance.”

That’s a big change from life in the Rock River Valley, where Eighmy says most people only know about the dance through the stage production “Riverdance.”

“Everyone thinks it’s like ‘Do a little jig,’ ” she said. “But it’s a sport. We have a lot of hard moves: There are tricks, just like in any other dance.”

In fact, Eighmy performs in two types of Irish dance: Hard-shoe dance features the fast tapping that became so well-known because of “Riverdance.” Soft-shoe dance is much more balletlike, featuring twirls and leaps.

“I’d always liked soft shoe because it’s more graceful. It almost feels like you’re flying through the air to the rhythm,” she said. “I’ve recently started liking hard-shoe more: Listening to the rhythm and the sound is really neat.”

Much of the challenge to Irish dancing is keeping the upper body still while making the lower body twist and turn. Eighmy said she dances with her arms tight to her side, her toes pointed and her feet crossed. For training, she travels two or three times a week to the Mayer School of Irish Dancing in West Dundee. She has competed at the regional level since 2003, went to the national Irish dancing competition in 2005 and will appear at nationals again this year.

The sport, she says, has given her the discipline to pursue her goals.

“It’s taught me that, if you have a bad day, you just have to keep working hard and moving on,” she said. “It’s shown me that if you really love something, it shows.”

Rockford Register-Star