Star Spotlight: Tatum Walsh

Irish dancing has provided freshman Tatum Walsh with community, a creative outlet and a form of exercise for over nine years.


Walsh smiles for the camera in her full costume at Oireachtas Nov. 26. photo courtesy of Tatum Walsh

by Charlotte Malone, Editor In Chief

How long have you been Irish dancing?

 I have been Irish dancing since first grade, so nine years.

Where do you Irish dance?

I Irish dance at a studio in Mission Kansas called O’Riada Manning Academy of Irish Dance.

How did you get into Irish dancing?

When I was in preschool, my school teacher showed us a video of Riverdance and I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool.” I asked my mom if I could sign up and kept bugging her about it for years. Finally, in first grade, she let me sign up.

Are you Irish?

Yes, my dad is Irish, but that is not the reason that I Irish dance.

Do you dance competitively within Irish dancing?

Yes, I dance competitively with my studio. I travel to a lot of different places for competition. Last summer I traveled to Montreal to go to the North American Nationals, but this year it [nationals] is in Nashville. It’s kind of random. I haven’t gone to Ireland yet to dance, but I hope to eventually. 

What sort of events do you perform at?

I did a Winterfest performance a few weeks ago with my studio. We do a lot of parades and we are doing a Mavericks hockey game soon as well. I also dance at the Irish fest every year, as well as St. Patrick’s parades. 

Are you doing any special performances for St. Patrick’s Day? Does this ever make it difficult to travel for spring break?

We are doing the Brookside parade and the Overland Park parade. This year, most of the performances are earlier in spring break so we are able to travel, but it really depends on the year. 

Do you dance solo or in groups?

I am really into solo dancing, we sometimes do team dances but our school is more solo-based.

What does it take to prep for a competition? 

There are many different types of competitions, like regionals and nationals. Before a big competition, you are in the studio 5-6 days a week, you are stretching a lot and recovering. It takes a lot of preparation. I try to do a lot on my own in order to prep as well. Getting into full costume for a competition or performance takes me 30-45 minutes now that I am more experienced. 

What does your Irish dancing costume consist of? Is there more than one costume?  

Every costume is covered in a bunch of crystals. The dresses are usually $1000 to $3000. There is often times a color scheme, mine is gold, green and blue. There is also an underskirt, mine is green, which is shown off when we do high kicks. I also wear a wig for competitions, which requires a ton of hairspray and bobby pins in order to stay in place. Sometimes people wear different color wigs than their hair, so they need to spray their hair with the wig color in order to make the blend seamless.

Do you see Irish dancing as a sport or an art?

I would say both. Irish dancing allows me to stay fit and exercise, but it also allows me to express my feelings through dancing.

What do you believe is the biggest misconception about Irish dancing?

Irish dancing is not just for Irish people. A lot of different people like Irish dance, and it’s not only open to one specific type of person.