Featured Artist: Irish dancer qualifies for world championship

Olivia Wilber

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Pointing her toe, senior Kylie Bitcon poses in her dance costume. Bitcon participates in Irish dancing.

Throughout her seven years of dance, senior Kylie Bitcon has attained about 75 medals and five championship sashes, as well as a first-place title at the North American National Championship Awards and a thirdplace title at the North American Regional Championship.
Bitcon’s next stop is Ireland. Her wins at regionals and nationals qualified her to go to the World Championships this year; however, she’s undecided on whether or not she will attend because of expenses. She’s not sure if she’s prepared.
Unlike many other dancers, Bitcon performs Irish Dancing. Irish dancing is not as popular or well-known as types such as ballet, lyrical or hip-hop. Although not many girls would have chosen to do this particular type of dance, Bitcon said she was drawn to it at an early age.
“I had played sports as a kid like soccer and basketball and I just wanted to try something different and make some new friends outside of those sports,” Bitcon said. “My childhood friend had a birthday party at the dance studio so I wanted to try it out and it seemed really fun. I wanted to kind of learn more about it and I guess it stuck with me because I’ve been there for seven years now.”
At one point, Bitcon was close to calling it quits, but her friends were the reason she decided to continue dancing.
“I think the thing that kept me there was all the friends I’ve made because I’ve made a lot of really close friendships like Cheyenne Becker, she’s a sophomore here,” Bitcon said. “I wouldn’t have ever known her if she didn’t do it with me. It’s basically like a second family when you walk into the studio.”
Becker and Bitcon both dance at Correy Academy of Irish Dance. The two met through dance and have been friends ever since.
“I met some of my best friends through dance and Kylie is one of them,” Becker said. “It’s been really fun being able to go to competitions and move through the levels with her. She’s such a powerful dancer.”
Both Bitcon and Becker agree that one of the hardest parts about being an Irish dancer is the expenses that come with it. The dancers have to buy dresses, shoes, makeup and wigs among many other items.
“The only downside I’ve found about Irish dancing is that it can be very expensive,” Bitcon said. “The dresses cost about $1,000 and each pair of shoes cost about $120. Other expenses like practice clothes, socks, wigs and accessories add up fast.”
Bitcon said another downside of the dance life is finding a way to balance it with school work. As high school students, time management can sometimes be a struggle.
“It can be really hard to balance school life with dance because we have practice four days a week for about three hours,” Bitcon said. “It’s about 12 hours of practice every week and practice gets done really late at night so it’s hard to come home and do homework after that, but because I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve learned how to balance it, but it was definitely a learning curve at the beginning.”
At practices, the girls usually do drills, work on stamina, run through old dances, and learn new ones. Bitcon said all the long hours and tough practices add up as they prepare for their big competitions.
“We normally have two big competitions a year,” Bitcon said. “We have regionals and nationals and those are in super fun places, like this year nationals were in Nashville and I’ve been to Orlando and Philadelphia, which are just really fun places. We also have some local ones too…but normally about four competitions every year.”
Bitcon said that, through dance, she’s been able to travel to some amazing places. She also said she’s made great friends.
“Dance has definitely shaped me into the person I am today,” Bitcon said. “It’s given me so much confidence and I’ve made lifelong friends.”