Discovering family heritage through love of Irish Dance


Photo by Photo by Olivia Donnelly

Kelly Bush, senior, holds a 1st place trophy. Bush who used to compete in Irish dance competitions, or feises, frequently won.

Olivia Donnelly, Bear Facts Contributor

All people have their own heritage, and while not everyone is able to experience the joys and traditions that come with it, Kelly Bush, senior has found a way to connect with her heritage through Irish dancing.

Bush, being of Irish descent, quickly grew to love the art as a kindergartener.  “[Irish dancing] always was changing, you were always learning new routines, you were always getting a new dress or a new wig, and then it also was so rewarding and fulfilling,” said Bush, “and overall just making my mom proud of her heritage.”

Elizabeth Bush, mother, who has supported Kelly all throughout her Irish dance career said: “it was beautiful watching her; I enjoyed so much to watch her evolve and improve.”

Mrs. Bush says she views Irish dance with two aspects to it. Although she said she loved watching her daughter dance and compete in feises or Irish dance recitals, the activity grew to be time-consuming and according to Mrs. Bush, quite hectic.

“I had practice three times a week in the city and we’d have feises all over the country,” said Bush.

Irish dancing is a very specific form of dance according to Bush, in which you must always keep your arms to your side at all times. Feises occur at least four to five times a year, while practices were two to three times a week.

Bush, who danced at Trinity Irish Dance of Chicago, was not only a committed Irish dancer, but she also acted as an inspiration to some of her friends.

“She was just someone who made me want to work harder and harder,” Isabelle Jordan, senior who danced with Bush, said, “Kelly was so confident Irish dancing that I just wanted to do anything [and] to be as confident as her.”

While some may consider Irish dancing as just another form of dance, Bush found it to be a lot more strenuous and exhausting after a while.

“I stopped because there was too much strain on my body. There was a lot of time on your toes and knees. I wanted to keep going but my knees just couldn’t take it anymore,” Bush said.

Bush says she tried pushing through the pain just a little longer, but the extent of her injuries continued to worsen. She had to choose between continuing her career in Irish dance or other sports.

The pain she endured didn’t hold her back from radiating her positivity, however.

“She is just a happy girl, so happy all the time, and I just love that about her. I would describe her as the color yellow and a smiley face because that’s Kelly. She’s always so happy and so kind,” Jordan said.

Through Irish dancing, Bush says she discovered that working hard and “having it pay off was so great, especially the team-dances and solo dances. When you were with your team, knowing you guys all did well and it was all choreographed perfectly, that was a rush.”