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Layton sisters on their way to 'Olympics for Irish dance'

By Peter Rosen | Posted - Mar 15th, 2013 @ 10:16pm

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Update March 27, 2013:

The Cleverly girls competed in the Irish Dancing World Championships and received good marks. Peyton Womack finished 7th and his brother Dallin came in 19th overall. Womack, a dance mom reports, got over pneumonia just three weeks ago.

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LAYTON — At the Cleverly household in Layton, feet are always moving. That's what happens when you have four daughters, each a student of Irish dance.

"They do it (practice dance steps) all the time," said Melissa Cleverly, mother to 15-year-old McKenna, 12-year-old Danielle, 10-year-old Aleya and 7-year-old Talia.

"I can be downstairs watching the game and it's like the ceiling is reverberating," said Chad Cleverly, the girls' father. "When people dance, the lights shake."

Now all that fancy footwork is taking the girls places. Mckenna and Danielle Cleverly have qualified for the World Irish Dancing Championships in Boston this month.

"It's the Olympics for Irish dance," Chad Cleverly said.

Their teachers, Alan Scariff and Kieran Hardiman, are pretty familiar with the competition. When they were teenagers in Ireland, Scariff took first place and Hardiman placed third.

They went on to tour the world in Riverdance and other productions, and two years ago settled in Salt Lake City to run a local Irish dance school.

"We were getting … sick of living out of a suitcase, not knowing sometimes what countries we were in at some stage," Hardiman said.

"I always had my dream of getting my own champions," Scariff said, "and that's what I want to do now, and that's what we're working towards."

In all, four of their students qualified for the world competition - the Cleverly sisters and two brothers, Dallin and Peyton Womack.

"It's very physically demanding, and you have to have really good stamina," Mckenna Cleverly said of the sport, "and you have to keep practicing. Like, if you don't practice, you don't place."

The Cleverly girls go to classes six days a week and practice, according to Mckenna, "every other hour."

Ironically, the the sisters were introduced to Irish dance because Melissa Cleverly thought her daughter McKenna's gymnastics classes were taking up too much time. "And so she's like, ‘Let's do something less involving,'" Mckenna said.

"When you find something you love and have a passion for, it doesn't matter how much time you're taking at it. You wanna go do it. You want to be part of something like this because you have that passion for it," Melissa Cleverly said.


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