Practicing in building lobbies and empty classrooms and getting together in spare moments between other club meetings are current realities of the Irish Dance Club, which is in the process of becoming an official organization at Elon University. Juniors Katie Caler, Catherine Falvey, Kerry Kurkjian, Ellen O’Neill and Kaela Wnorowski have been Irish dancing all their lives. After they connected on Elon’s campus two years ago, they decided it would be fun to dance together.
Their decision to become a legitimate organization was solidified after the spring of their freshman year, when the group performed for Elon’s Got Talent and Elonthon. Since then, the five girls have been working to become an official organization.
While there are plenty of dance groups on campus, there are none dedicated to Irish dance. O’Neill said that she knows introducing an Irish dancing club could provide a unique opportunity to learn for experienced and new dancers alike.
“I want this club available for dancers who want to continue Irish dancing in college,” O’Neill said. “I hope that it will attract students who want to maybe get involved in the Irish dance. It is such a unique dance form that a lot of people don’t know about. To them, Irish dance is just ‘Riverdance’ and curly hair, but there is so much more to it than that. It offers a unique part of Irish culture to campus.”
While the group knows the benefits of a club like this, making that dream a reality hasn’t been easy. Kurkjian said they have faced a number of roadblocks in their pursuit so far.
“It’s been challenging with the four or five of us studying abroad [at different times]” Kurkjian said. “We’re also trying to create a club with four or five people's opinions, and it’s difficult trying to fit into Elon’s organizational mold. Elon has different categories for clubs and organizations. Irish dance can fit in a lot of these categories, so it makes it tricky.”
One of the hardest things for the group thus far has been recruiting. Wnorowski said that, without being official, the group has to rely on untraditional ways to spread the word.
“Recruiting people has been very word-of-mouth,” Wnorowski said. “It’s been hard because that’s the only way we’ve been getting people involved. Being part of organization fair eventually will really help that, because people will actually see [the] table.”
Under Elon’s rules the Irish dance club has 10 girls on its roster, which is 10 less than it needs to be considered an official organization. Caler expressed how troublesome waiting can be.
“It’s frustrating wanting it all to happen within the span of a week, but it doesn’t happen like that,” Caler said. “You have to find an adviser and stay on top of paperwork. It’s a lot, but in the end, it’s worth it.”
Despite the hoops the girls have to jump through, they are optimistic about becoming official soon enough. Caler said Irish dance could become a longstanding tradition and organization on campus.
“Ten years down the road, it would be nice to come back and see the Irish dance team perform,” Caler said. “Other universities have more established teams and host competitions. I would love to see it progress to something bigger and [know] it was our brainchild.”