WYOMING — Dressed in black and channeling their inner Irish, members of the Emerald Isle Step Dancers performed for students at Tenth Street Elementary School on Thursday.
Students were dressed in their best St. Patrick’s Day attire as they danced in their seats and clapped along with upbeat, Irish music.
Two separate performances were held at the school — one for students in grades kindergarten through second grade, and one for third through fifth grades, but the reactions were just the same as students applauded the dancers, much to the delight of Emerald Isle Step Dancers Director Jennifer Woss.
“I’m very tough on them,” Woss said of her dancers. “They need to make sure they’re smiling, they need to make sure their hands are at their side, kicking their high knees; those are things I’m looking for to have an awesome show. But, yes, they did very well.”
The highlight of the shows was the dancing of Morgan Slusser, 10, and Erica Gilligan, 9, both students of Montgomery Avenue Elementary School in West Pittston.
The two did an Irish dance to “Uptown Funk” that had the elementary students singing and dancing along to more than any other songs.
“We were just happy that they liked it because we worked really hard on our dance,” said Gilligan. “It’s the big dance we do.”
According to Woss, it was Slusser’s and Gilligan’s decision to dance to the song.
“Everybody breaks out singing,” said Slusser. “When we dance at our schools, everyone likes it.”
The Emerald Isle Step Dancers is an Irish dance group based in Pittston that has over 60 members, children and adults, from around the Wyoming Valley.
The performance at Tenth Street Elementary is one of many shows the dancers have performed since March 5 as part of a St. Patrick’s tour that took them to various parades, schools and venues up until March 20 throughout the Wyoming Valley.
“We practice at least once or twice a week to get the new dances prepared,” Woss said. “We dance at least once or twice a week just to get the new dances prepared. We never have any problems (getting the students out of school) because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and a lot of our kids are very academically excellent.”
With the countless hours of practicing and traveling, Woss’s veteran dancers, like 11-year-old Kalista Armitage, know how to handle the pressure and keep working.
“I like to keep practicing to make it fun for the audience,” said the Pittston Area Middle School student.
With the St. Patrick’s tour concluding on March 20, Woss said her dancers will compete in an Irish Dance Competition on April 9 at Kalahari Resort at Pocono Manor and then hold a dance show at Wyoming Area High School on April 23.
They will also participate in the Memorial Day Parade in Ashley and the West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival.
Woss credits her staff members for helping to create new dance routines to keep things fresh.
“I have a great bunch of kids and staff that come up with new dances and new songs,” she said. “We’re very open and we’re a very family-friendly group. I allow dancers to be creative and do things they want to do, which is fun because it makes them enjoy it more.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher