Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance Wins Recognition at National Competition

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Panama City - You've probably seen them perform in local St. Patrick's Day events and Celtic concerts. Now a small dance troupe in downtown Panama City is celebrating a big victory. The group of just 6 local dancers brought home more than 4 dozen awards against some major, big city competition. With just 15 dancers total, the Niall O'Leary School of Irish dance is small compared to many schools across the southeast. Despite their size, they are proving their talent can't be ignored.

It takes fast feet and intense concentration to keep up with the Niall O'Leary Irish Dancers. "It's fun and you get to move your feet a lot," said Carmelina King. That is an understatement.

For 13-year-old Maura Elizabeth Lindsey, a sweet smile hides a fierce competitor. "I hope to go to Worlds and one day become a world champion!" said Maura. She has been dancing since age 6. "I love it because I can just get away from everything that is happening in my life and I can just come and just dance."

This young group of dancers, who rehearse at the City Arts Cooperative, is quickly making a name for themselves on the national stage. They recently participated in a national competition in Atlanta. It was certainly a proud moment for instructor Teresa Kane, who started the Panama City Troupe. "We had the best schools from the southern region (in attendance), 750 dancers. I had 6 dancers take home 58 awards. So I am very proud of them all," said Teresa.

It's success they'd like to share with more dancers. Teresa wants the group to grow so they can participate in more local events. "Irish Dancing is not only good for your children physically, it is good for them mentally. It helps with balance, they have to memorize the steps, the choreography. It's good for mind, body, and soul," said Teresa.

You've got an opportunity to see the troupe perform during a fantastic Christmas Extravaganza at Emerald Coast Fellowship in Lynn Haven on December 7th, 8th, and 9th.

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