In addition to being the Arts and Culture editor for The University News, the president of the University of Dallas Irish dance club, a pre-med biology major, and a member of the UD swing dance team, Bridget Kennedy is now officially one of the best Irish dancers in the world.
Kennedy competed this past week in the 2018 World Irish Dancing Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, the fifth time she’s competed at worlds.
This time, she came away with a world medal.
“Once you’re a world medal holder, you’re a world medal holder for life,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy has won numerous regional and state competitions, and this year, actually qualified for the World Championships twice, qualifying in the national competition last summer and then doing so again in the regional competition.
While the big stage was intimidating at first, Kennedy is now a seasoned veteran.
“It’s gotten a lot less intimidating over the years, but the first one that I went to I was just so overwhelmed because the caliber of dancing is just way above anything that I was used to,” Kennedy said. “I’d be top in my region but then I’d go to worlds and everyone’s good, there’s no one that isn’t good, obviously, so it’s really intimidating at first.”
At the world competition, the top third of competitors get called to dance again, and then those dancers all place. Last year was the first year Kennedy was recalled, finishing 37th. This year, she placed 14th and won a world medal, a distinguished honor in the dance world.
“There were thousands of girls and guys that came to compete, so it was really really packed,” Kennedy said. “We competed in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, so it was relatively small for the amount of people that were there.”
Kennedy has been dancing since she was five years old, and her coach says she’s always been a natural.
“She’s one of the most talented dancers that I’ve ever coached,” said Neill Reagan, her first coach. “She’s self-motivated. She’s hard working. I think she excels at everything she does. I always say she can be the first female president of this country if she wanted to be.”
Irish dancing is something Kennedy has wanted to do since she was a little girl.
“I remember watching Riverdance and Lord of the Dance and thinking ‘I want to do that,’ and so I would pretend I could do what they were doing, moving my feet and stuff,” Kennedy said.
“There was just something that I was so drawn to. I don’t know why; I just really liked it, and I didn’t want to stop.
“I think also I just had a natural inclination to it, the steps always came very easily to me, when we learned new things I was always able to pick up on them really fast. I remember just sitting there and watching people dance and being able to pick up the steps they were doing just by watching them.”
In addition to being a world-class Irish dancer, Kennedy joined the UD swing dance team this year.
“I really wanted to branch out because all I’ve done is Irish dance my whole life,” Kennedy said. “I thought it would be cool to try something new, and I thought I would be decent at it since I have a background in dance.”
That just added one more thing to Kennedy’s full plate. Kennedy also ran cross country her first two years but had to stop due to the stress it put on her body.
“I thought I could do everything, so I ran, I was a bio major, I danced, and I worked, and I’m also the president of the Irish dance club on campus,” Kennedy said. “I quit running because it was just too much. It was way too much on my body to be running 30 to 40 miles a week and then on top of that going to dance classes for two, three hours. So something had to go.”
Kennedy plans to go to medical school for podiatry after graduating. The workload is difficult to manage, but Kennedy makes it work.
“It’s really tough at times but it just comes down to managing your time,” Kennedy said. “A lot of people wouldn’t even imagine having another thing on their plate that is as time-consuming as dance is but because I love it so much I just make time for it.”
Kennedy plans on finishing up competing soon, however.
“I’m probably going to stop competing within this next year or two, but I do see myself teaching forever and ever,” Kennedy said. “It’s just not something that you can just give up. I’m so involved, and I love it so much that I don’t ever see myself not being involved in the dance world.”
After graduating, Kennedy plans to take a gap year before going to medical school to join Riverdance, the reason she started Irish dance in the first place.
“Honestly, the performance part of Irish dance is my favorite part,” Kennedy said. “Competing is really cool to see where you rank amongst other dancers but performing in front of an audience is so much more satisfying, it’s so much more enjoyable. It takes the stress out of it.”
Kennedy’s coach has no doubt she’ll be successful.
“She’s a fantastic person, a fantastic dancer,” Reagan said. “She’s going to succeed at everything she does.”