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March 26 , 2004

MHC Sophomore to Compete for World Irish Dance Title

Photo: Todd M. LeMieux

Maura Cassin ’06

Maura Cassin ’06, who has been step dancing since she was a child, will be strutting her stuff this April in the Irish Step Dancing World Championships in Belfast in Northern Ireland. Cassin will dance in the open championship division, the highest level in Irish step dancing, testing her mettle against approximately 80 other dancers.

For the past four years, Cassin has competed at the New England Oireachtas (regionals). Last November she placed third in her age division, earning a coveted berth to compete in Belfast. In an interview with The Catholic Observer, she recalled that when she heard she had qualified, she didn’t believe it.

“It didn’t register, Cassin said. “I thought it can’t be me, it has to be someone else.”

At the World Championships, Cassin will perform a “soft shoe” called a slip jig and a “hard shoe” routine called a treble jig, and the scores will be combined for an overall rating. “I’m looking forward to the competition,” she said. “I’m excited. I am trying to keep it in my head as just another competition.”

Maureen McDermott Ziskowski is founder of the McDermott Academy of Irish Dance, where Cassin studies and is an assistant teacher. Ziskowski described Cassin’s talents in a recent interview with Catholic Communications. “When Maura was nine years old, she came into dancing class and I thought, ‘This kid’s got something special.’ Maura has a tremendous work ethic whether it’s in school or whether it’s Irish step dancing. She practices every day and has worked very hard to get to this place in her life.”

Cassin graduated from Westfield High School in 2002 and is majoring in English at Mount Holyoke. She devotes a lot of time and energy to dance. She takes classes three evenings a week, practices for an hour and a half a day, and runs to stay in shape. When she returns from Ireland she will begin preparing for the Nationals, which take place this July in Philadelphia.

 

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