Portishead dancer crowned Irish dancing world champion

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 April 2018

Libby Smerdon and her teacher Katie MacVean.

Libby Smerdon and her teacher Katie MacVean.


A 'committed' and 'passionate' Portishead dancer has been crowned one of the best in the world after taking home a trophy last week.

Sixteen-year-old Libby Smerdon danced her way to the top at the 2018 Traditional Set Dance World Championship.

The Gordano School student has had to work ‘exceptionally hard’ to juggle both her dancing and her studies, as she prepares to sit her GCSE exams in the next few weeks.

Libby trains every Saturday morning at Backwell School with the McClennan Academy of Irish Dancing and has danced for 10 years.

She achieved first place in the Under 21 Traditional Set Dance at this year’s World Irish Dancing Association (WIDA) World Championships, which were held in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, on April 6.

Despite being the youngest dancer in the competition, Libby was successful in dancing her way through two knockout rounds.

She went on to complete nine traditional heavy set dances against some of the best dancers in her age group before being awarded the first place crystal globe.

She told the Times she ‘could not believe’ she was the traditional set world champion for 2018.

She added: “After 10 years of dancing, today was finally my day.

“The constant sweat, blood and tears and hours in the dance studio have finally paid off.

“None of this would be possible without my amazing dance school. Thank you for believing in me even when I did not believe in myself.”

Libby then went on to place third and fourth in her jig and slip jig respectively before placing 9th overall.

Katie MacVean, Libby’s teacher, said her and the team at McClennan Academy were ‘immensely proud’ of their student and described the competition as an ‘emotional rollercoaster’.

She added: “She is committed and passionate about Irish dancing and is an inspiration to all of the younger dancers at the school.

“Libby was joined at the world championships by seven other solo dancers from the school and performed in a beautiful Ceili team.

“There were a lot of us in Maastricht cheering on all of the McClennan dancers and I was immensely proud of Libby, Talia, Abbie, Ella, Lola, Izzy, Maddie, Kara, Kaci and Lea.

“Everyone danced fabulously and had lots of fun along the way.

“It was really great to bring a world globe back to Nailsea, I am sure there will also be many more to follow.”

The McClennan Academy is a fun and friendly school which offers Irish dancing classes for all levels and abilities.

In addition to taking part in regular local and international competitions, dancers also perform in excellent displays.

If you would like more information about the McClennan Academy of Irish Dancing and lessons please contact mcsoid1@gmail.com.

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