World Championships 2012

World Irish Dancing Championships 2012

It is now eighteen years since Ireland and the World were stopped in their tracks by an interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest which featured Jean Butler and Michael Flatley and twenty-four top Irish Dancers. Just two weeks earlier The World Irish Dancing Championships had celebrated its twenty- fifth anniversary at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.

Within a year Riverdance-the-Show had been launched, and Irish Dancing had been introduced to an audience hitherto largely unaware of its beauty and magnificence. A year later from the stage of the World Irish Dancing Championships in the O’Reilly Hall in UCD Michael Flatley announced that he would be launching a new show entitled Lord of the Dance within a couple of months.

Lord of the Dance premiered in June 1996, and the world now had not one, but two, smash hit shows featuring Irish Dancing,something undreamt of in the past. It was another four years, however, before the World Irish Dancing Championships – Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne – the cradle which nurtured the talent that made all this possible, made its way to Belfast. But thus began a partnership which has continued to grow in strength ever since.

In 2012, Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne returned for the fifth time in twelve years to the Northern capital, where some 4,500 competitors took part in twenty-four age-groups for Irish stepdancing – 12 male, 12 female – seven categories for Ceili Dancing, six categories for newly composed sixteen hand figure choreographies, and two categories for Dance Drama, along with some 20,000 teachers, parents and supporters over the nine days of the event.


The World Irish Dancing Championships - Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne - which for over forty years has been an established part of the annual Irish Dancing calendar, began humbly as a two-day event in the very intimate surroundings of the Colaiste Mhuire Theatre, Parnell Square, Dublin. At that time it was an ambitious project by any standards, but, for the members of An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, it was the culmination of a dream, and for those who persisted with the dream it has become the flagship Irish Dancing event.

After two years in the Parnell Square venue The World Irish Dancing Championships moved south of the Liffey to Dublin’s Mansion House,where it went from strength to strength for the following eight years. From there it moved to Dun Laoghaire for two years, and then to Galway in 1982. Thirty years after that first move outside the capital, and having been successfully staged in places as diverse as Ennis in Co. Clare, Glasgow in Scotland, and Philadelphia in the United States of America, the World Irish Dancing Championships returned for the fifth time in 2012 to the magnificent surroundings of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall,with St. George’s Market across the road as an additional venue for three of the nine days, such was the scale of the event.


A glittering Opening Ceremony, featuring the famous McPeake Family and a host of other notable Belfast stars took place on the Waterfront Stage. Members of the Press were notified in advance of time of the Opening Ceremony. A vido of the Openining Ceremony will shortly be available for viewing on this website.


The decision to bring the Championships back to Belfast for a fifth time could not have been possible without the initiative of Belfast City Council, which, coupled with the generous support of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau and the business community in Belfast, has made it possible to stage the World Championships in glorious style in Belfast since 2000.

Other Activities

While the championships themselves were the focal point of the event, the World Championships are about much more than that. Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne has evolved into a unique gathering of the extended family of dancers, teachers, adjudicators, and friends of Irish Dancing from around the globe. Forty-two years on from its humble beginnings the Championships have developed into a magnificent extravaganza, presenting, as it does, all that is best in Irish Dance in all its manifestations.

Those who were in Belfast from March 31st to April 8th 2012 experienced a feast of entertainment, from the spectacular opening ceremony all the way to the final event of the championships, The Senior Ladies Fifure Choreography Competition. The event coincided with the opening of the Titanic Festival, and Trad on the Titanic, a fringe event of the World Championships organised by the local Belfast Teachers Committee, had the honour of being the first event to be held at the magnificent new Titanic Building.

Other fringe activities ranged from language classes, and music sessions to the glittering Black and White Ball - A Night to Remember - held in the Grand Ballroom of the Europa Hotel.

A word about the scoring system -

Historically the raw marks for every dancer for rounds one and two have been shown together with their Irish points (Grid Mark) in the recall marks sheet. The position shown is always the combined grid score place.

The final Marks sheet has shown the recalled dancers raw mark and grid mark for all three rounds. The position shown is again based on the total grid score.

The position of a dancer in relation to a single round has never been shown in a fixed or revolving round system, although it was possible for a dancer, parent or teacher to work out from the raw mark where a dancer had been placed by an individual adjudicator.

World System 2012

In this year’s World Championships a new system was introduced, which combined both a fixed panel for two rounds and revolving panel for the third.

This system posed the problem of how to publish the marks at recall and final stages. We looked at the possibility of showing the raw marks for each of the first two round and the grid score achieved for all seven adjudicators along with the competitors number, Hi and Low mark and final grid total. It was impossible to fit all 32 columns onto an A4 page.

We considered splitting the rounds onto separate sheets but this would have increased the final marks packs to an excess of 20 sheets.

In the end, we settled with the most economic option, that is to show the raw scores from rounds one and two as a total on the recall sheet and to omit all but the recall dancers from the final result sheet.

The rule relating to the actual placing of each dancer in each round by every adjudicator (Rule 10, p16) has in reality never actually been shown in any marks set, they have always shown a position based on combined grid totals. This has always been true in either fixed or revolving systems.