When Jianna Vaccarelli was 6 years old she told her mom that she wanted to start dancing. So her mother signed her up for Irish dance lessons.
“When I told my mom I wanted to dance, I didn’t have Irish dancing in mind,” said Vaccarelli. “But I just stuck with it.”
Vaccarelli found herself performing types of traditional dances that originated in Ireland hundreds of years of ago. These routines are preformed to traditional Irish music. The dancers costumes are meant to resemble traditional dresses worn by peasants in Ireland. For added flare the dresses are embroidered with Celtic designs, each one different depending on the dancer or the school they represent.
Vaccarelli dances twice a week at the Horgan Academy of Irish Dance in Naugatuck. Throughout the year Vaccarelli competes in various levels of dance competitions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. This past year Vaccarelli competed at the Regional Irish Dance Competition and the National Irish Dance Competition as well as the World Championships competition.
“In order to qualify for Regionals you have to place at a certain level in local competitions,” said Vaccarelli, “Nationals take place after the World Compeition, so that dosen’t really effect your placing.”
Vaccarelli’s solo dance placed 14th out of 50 dances at the regional competition.
“My dance was not eligible to be competed at the World Championships,” said Vaccarelli, “But I was able to compete with my school’s dance drama team at Worlds.”
In dance drama, performers put on a theatrical production in which they are telling a story through Irish dance. Vaccarelli’s team performed the story of the sinking of the Titanic. The dance placed 1st at Regionals and 8th at Worlds.
On the days when Vacarelli is not dancing at the Horgan Academy she practices her routines at home.
“I pratice a lot in my basement because I have mirrors and flooring down there, so it’s kind of like my own little studio,” said Vacarelli.
This extra practicing has helped Vaccarelli move up in competition levels. She is currently in the Preliminary Championship category, the 2nd highest level of the 7 levels of competitive Irish Dance.
According to Vaccarelli one of the reasons she really enjoys Irish dancing is because of how different it is from other sports.
“I like feeling unique in that way,” said Vaccarelli “I’ve made great friends and I have a great time dancing.”