How does it feel to be one of the best Irish dancers in the world? Just ask Kelly King. The UNC Greensboro sophomore took home a semi-finalist medal in solo competitions at the 2019 World Irish Dancing Championships, held last week at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro.
“I owe everything to my teachers,” King said. “And I am incredibly happy to have placed in such a tough competition.”
King placed 27th out of 68 dancers in her age category, and her team, dancers from the North Carolina-based Walsh Kelley School of Irish Dancing, placed 24th.
“It’s really the Olympics of Irish dance,” said King, who is majoring in marketing at the Bryan School for Business and Economics. “There’s no higher title or higher competition – this is it.”
The Triad native launched her dance career at age 4, when her mom, Colleen King, began teaching Walsh Kelley classes at the Greensboro Cultural Center downtown.
Sixteen years later, and King is ranked No. 1 in the Southern region – not to mention her newest world title. She competes in about 15 local competitions a year and trains seven days a week.
Dancing has taken King around the world, from Europe (five times) to Canada, and she’s competed in just about every state in the United States.
“I have friends all over the world because of it,” King said.
And that’s why, when she talks about her future, Irish dancing is just a small portion of it.
“I teach two days a week, and I love it,” King said. “But after graduation, I want to have a normal job and dance on the side.”
She loves traveling and the idea of designing the elaborate dresses worn by dancers. The business skills she is gaining in the Bryan School will give her the background she needs to work for an Irish dance dress designer or manufacturer, or run her own dance school one day.
In one of her marketing classes, she’s studying exchange rates and the importance of networking abroad.
King was initially attracted to UNCG because of its study abroad programs. Next year, she plans to study in the Netherlands.
“I hope with my job I’ll get to travel,” King said. “And make connections with people around the world.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Colleen King, Kelly King, and VisionMixer Productions