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USF students take root in Irish step dance

 

The three women swiftly moved across the stage with every quick, jumping step in sync to the fast paced music. As their feet move a mile a minute with each precise step, their upper body remains firm and confident.

Kristina Lamens, a sophomore majoring in microbiology, and sisters Grace and Christa Beck, a sophomore and junior, respectively, majoring in mass communications, won first prize in the “Honors Got Talent” talent show last week for their unusual talent — Irish step dancing.

They performed their routines to “Feet of Flames,” “Lord of the Dance” and “Derby,” some of their most favorite routines.

“I honestly wasn’t surprised we won, because we were the only ones that weren’t singing,” Grace said. “I think we have a very unique talent. It’s especially impressive to people who haven’t seen it before.”

It may appear to many as an effortless and easy dance, but that is because the trio has spent years perfecting their
routines.

“We were nervous before we performed, but it’s more like an excited nervous,” Christa said. “With the talent show it was a crowd of a bunch of people we know that have never seen us dance before. Usually people are so impressed, so we were just really excited.”

Because Irish step dancing uses different muscles that most sports don’t, Grace said the only way to train is to do the steps over and over again.

“My sister and I played soccer our whole lives as well, but nothing can prepare you conditioning wise for Irish dance,” Grace said. “It’s just something completely different. Training on the side, like running and other cardio, is not going to help you at all.”

Their dancing careers started at the Rondeau School of Irish Step Dancing, where their friend’s mom taught.

Lamens, Grace and Christa grew with the dance school, starting at the young ages of 8, 7 and 5, respectively. The school started on a back porch that was later converted into a dance studio; with a core group of about nine dance students who practiced weekly and performed frequently together.

“We all became really close,” Christa said. “We’ve been doing this for about 10 years, so we’re like a family. We all went to the same high school and have performed a lot together.”

“St. Patrick’s Day is our big event,” Lamens said. “We’d sometimes have four shows in one day and be traveling all over the county.”

During their performances growing up, the dance team put out a hat to raise money for a trip to Ireland in the summer of 2011.

Because Lamens is Irish and Christa and Grace are part Irish, they said they enjoyed experiencing the culture of Ireland for the first time. The dance group and their families all attended together to tour the coast.

“We didn’t dance formally,” Lamens said. “But we’d go to do impromptu dances in the street and in bars and that was really the pinnacle of our dancing career.”

Lamens said she plans to go home to Brevard County over spring break to do a couple of shows with her pervious dance teacher and some of the
younger dancers.

“Whenever we go home, we always visit our dance teacher,” Lamens said. “She’s a part of our family and we’ll do shows whenever she wants. We’re like her go-to dancers.”

While they do not perform as often as they used to, the routines are still fresh in their minds.

“With multiple people it can take a couple months to learn a routine,” Christa said. “To really perfect a dance it can take years and years.”

They all said their favorite part of performing is the crowd reaction.

“I do it for (the crowd) really,” Christa said. “I like to make them happy.”