Renbrook Sixth Grader Demonstrates Immense Talent in Irish Step Dance

Renbrook sixth grader Balian Buttimer has been Irish Step Dancing since he was 4 years old.  He made Preliminary Champion Level by age 8 and has been competing at a champion level in his age group since then. At normal Feis competitions, both boys and girls compete against one another in their age category.  However, at larger competitions such as Regional Oireachtas, Nationals and Worlds, dancers only compete against their own gender, again in their age category.  
This past July, Balian competed at Nationals in Phoenix, AZ and podiumed 3rd in Preliminary Champ. He ranked 11th nationally overall!  On Friday, November 19, 2021, he competed at the New England Region Oireachtas and placed 1st, qualifying him for Worlds this April in Belfast and then Nationals again this July in Canada. 

There are 3 rounds in each competition - 2 heavy rounds ("tap" shoes) and 1 light round (soft shoes, but the boys' shoes have clicks on the heels). The first 2 rounds are danced hardshoe, then soft shoe/boys reels. If the score is high enough, the competitor is recalled and is then allowed to dance their 3rd round which is a contemporary hard shoe dance performed to a traditional Irish song.

Balian also earned one more huge achievement at this Oireachtas - a perfect score! Each competitor has 3 different judges for all three rounds for a total of 9 judges. A perfect score means that all 9 judges gave him first place. It is very rare to receive this.

The music at competitions is always live and the judges can be from around the world. Balian is registered with his dance school, Scoil Rince Luimni in South Windsor, and all scores are recorded with An Coimisiún le Rinci Gaelacha in Ireland so everything is very official! On top of competing, Balian is already working towards becoming an Irish dance teacher. He recently took his first three of twelve Grade Exams and and got A's on all three.  Irish dance provides many opportunities for athletic competition, confidence building, and celebrating traditional Irish culture... and Balian loves it!

His family as well as all of us here at Renbrook School are extremely proud of the work Balian has put into this and wish him well in future competitions.
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