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Quinte Irish dancers prepare to perform

By Jordan Merkley [1]

BELLEVILLE – Dancers at the Kelly School of Irish Dance [2] here in Belleville are hard at work getting ready for their St. Patrick’s Day performances.

The school is the only accredited Irish dance school between Ottawa and Toronto, making it a hot commodity in the community.

“St. Patrick’s Day and that week are big,” said Caitlin Callaghan, a teacher at the school. “So far we’re booked for six shows, and four of them are all in one day. It’s insanity, but we hate to turn down performances.”

Several of the St. Patrick’s Day performances will take place at the Quinte Mall.

The students do many small performances within the community, said Callaghan. They also perform at weddings in the summer months.

The school offers lessons for ages five and up, from beginner to advanced. Many of the advanced students also dance competitively.

Callaghan said the school networks with other schools through competitions.

“You really get to know people and you make a lot of friends from all over the world,” she said.

The students compete in the Toronto and Ottawa areas, as well as New York City and Syracuse.

Student Hannah Smit has been involved in Irish dance for almost nine years.

Asked why she continues to dance, Smit said, “I love it. I love the people and the rhythm. It’s just so much fun to listen to and do.”

The school holds lessons at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada [3] on Palmer Road Thursday evenings and alternating Sundays.