Irish dancer Caydee is kicking up tradition
2017-11-15 16:05:00 -

By Michaela Althouse

Caydee Dunne fell into her success in Irish dancing, but her trophies show she certainly landed on her feet.


Now aged 13, the Ballyfermot native – with an Irish mum and a Kenyan dad – has danced for nine years, starting out only because she was too young to try out for drama like she wanted. 


“My mam put me in Irish dancing, just for a year ‘cause I was four,” she says. “I was supposed to go back, quit dancing and join drama, [but] I wanted to stay in dancing.”


The decision has clearly paid off, as Caydee recently took third place in the All Ireland preliminaries hosted by the Irish Dancing Commission.


Familiar to most people outside of Ireland from the world-famous Riverdance, traditional Irish dancing is performed both individually, with step dancing, and in teams with céilí and set dances.


The main focus is the quick-paced, intricate footwork performed alongside traditional Irish music. But it also has significant value in preserving Irish language and culture, and promoting the same around the world. Through the likes of the aforementioned Riverdance as well as Irish communities abroad, the influence stretches as far as Brazil, Japan and South Africa.


Caydee attends the Doyle Halpin School of Dancing, where she practices three days a week. She loves everything about it — her top moves are the ‘rock’ and the ‘flick’; she loves kicking her legs in the air as high as she can – but says the best part is getting to wear the intricately decorated costumes at competition, full of vibrant colour and studded with gemstones. Such competitions happen about eight times a year, and her school also holds an annual showcase.


Caydee also enjoys the time she gets to spend with her dance friends and the people she’s met along the way.


“I have lots of friends in dancing, and it’s fun,” she says. “They’re not really strict or anything and we do group dances as well.”


Competitions have allowed Caydee to meet dancers from the UK and even the USA, and she likes the fact that people from other cultures get to enjoy the tradition — even if it’s a modernised version. 


“It’s not really traditional, we have the big glitzy dresses and all, but some people do traditional Irish dancing. So they get to see our side, glitzy and glam, and we get to see their side.”


Caydee says the hardest part of dancing is trying to learn all the moves, and staying flexible to do all the kicks required. 


“Say your friend could do it real easy but you couldn’t do it for weeks,” she adds, “but you just have to keep trying.” Plenty of practice, as well as help from encouraging teachers and more experienced older students makes things easier, too.


In between dance and school work, Caydee is also on the basketball and soccer teams at Caritas College. Despite her success in Irish dancing, she says she really wants to pursue her true love of sports. 


“I want to get a scholarship to America. I really want to go to Kentucky — I don’t know why — and Florida.” 


The budding globetrotter also aspires to go Kenya with her father, where he grew up. But not without packing her dancing shoes.



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