Dance Spotlight: Ella Owens, U15 

Scoil Rince Ceim Oir, Southern England, CLRG.

Do you remember your first feis, if so where was it and how did you do? My mum Hilary, tells me that my first feis was a class feis and I wouldn’t say I danced at it, I ran across the stage in a pink top and tutu that she had sewn together! I didn’t fit into light shoes so I wore tiny socks with black pumps on them and it was so much fun. After that I started going to proper class and once I had been to a few more feises and I loved dancing even more.

What things about the magazine have helped or inspired you along the way? I’ve loved always reading about the dancer of the month and what their stories are, they are always so inspirational and such amazing role models. It’s also really nice to relate to somebody else about your experiences, successes and hardships. I also love the adjudicator section because it’s always good to know what the judges are looking for, it's good to know what pleases people.

Tell us about your life on the international dance circuit. Have you worked your way up the competitive ranks or have you always been a top placer? I’ve been very fortunate to have been a top placer from a young age but I’ve had to work hard and sacrifice things. The competition standard is always so high that I never take any of it for granted......

I won a couple of titles quite young and didn’t have the same understanding of what it all entailed really, my mum and the other teachers in the class always made sure that I was prepared but always instilling in me that other little girls would also have their day on the top box and that that was ok too. As I’ve gotten older, I would say that I place more value on every win. The other girls in my competition are so dedicated and talented.


Tell us about your family – we understand you have some incredible Irish Dancing genes! My mum Hilary Joyce Owens, is my biggest inspiration and she was such an incredible dancer, managing to get 5th at the worlds in Galway, without her I would be nowhere. My nana danced in Mayo for Mrs Redmond, all my mums siblings danced as well so dancing has been in my blood since the very beginning. All of my successes I owe to her and my other incredible teachers. Ceim Oir is built on team spirit and family, so I would say that the other teachers in the class, Kerry, Lucy and Karen are family to me also, they have all known me since I was born.Then, I was very fortunate to have Marie Duffy Pask join our class five years ago, she leaves no stone unturned. What was your first big win as a dancer and what do you remember about it? I was U5 at the all Scotland’s and it was the second time that I had danced there (I ran off the previous year). I remember waking up and asking if I could get ice cream and my mum said maybe if you get on the stage and not make a mistake, then you can have ice cream. So immediately that became my goal. I made no mistakes and I remember that they lined us all up on stage and announced the result in reverse order, when they called out 2nd place and it wasn’t me, it was hilarious, I couldn’t believe it!I was so thrilled and excited as I had had the first glimpse of success and I really enjoyed it.They also gave me a teddy bear inside this giant cup and once we were done, my mum took me to the cinema that evening to see UP, I also had lots of ice cream!

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What is your absolute best Irish Dancing memory? My absolute best dancing memory was getting 3rd at my first Worlds in Montreal, Canada in 2015. Going there was so exciting as I had never been to Canada before but I was a little nervous to dance. I just told myself to remember how hard I had worked and how much time and effort everyone had put in. I did my best and my mum said that I had danced really well. When the results were coming out, my dance teachers, Kerry and Lucy, Karen, Marie and my mum were trying to calculate where I was and they said 4th which I was still thrilled with but sad because it meant that I was one place off a globe.Then the grid score was read out and I was announced as 3rd place and we all screamed and I jumped up and hugged my mum, there’s no better feeling. 3rd at my first World felt like a massive achievement and I was so happy.

You have worked incredibly hard to get to the point you are at in Irish Dancing. What has the journey been like for you? It was a relatively easy journey in the early years, lots of fun and no pressure. However, once I turned 10 and started to attend the championship classes, it became a lot more challenging. Trying to fit everything in can be exhausting at times but we always seem to manage it. I always loved to perform but I don’t always love competition.There have been times, when the nerves have got the better of me that all I wanted to do was give up, never go on stage again, but then I breath and I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else, so the journey has been very up and down! I have more of an understanding now about where I am and where I want to be so I wouldn’t change the journey for anything because it makes the end result even better.

What’s the “end game” for you? If you could look into your future…is it to be a dance teacher, show star, or something else and why? I’ve always wanted to be an actress ever since I was little,I love musical theatre but once I finish competing, I would love to go into a show and go on tour, and possibly look into acting. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll carry on my mum's legacy.

How do you mentally prepare for a big competition? I map everything out in my head with all my steps, and visualise the day of the competition. I do get nervous before competitions and stress myself out, so I have had to learn how to deal with this in order to compete to my maximum. I make a list and everything I’ve achieved and anything good that’s happened to me and put it into an envelope.Then when the nerves kick in at the competition I just look at the envelope and remember why I love to do this. This works for me.

What female dancer currently on the competitive circuit do you admire most and why? There are so many amazing dancers on the circuit at the moment but two of my favourites are Alliyah O’Hare and Jodi Millar, they’re both incredible! They have so much strength and style and I absolutely love watching them both at feiseanna. Alliyah always finishes her dance as strong as she starts and her level of difficulty in her steps is insane. She is amazing.

cover photo of Alliyah O'Hare by Leanne Nelson

Dancers are always curious…what does it really take to place on the podium at the World Championships? It takes an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears but also a lot of passion because if you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point in dedicating yourself to something if you don’t truly love it. You have to be 100% focused and be prepared give up social events, relaxation time and even birthdays. It seems a lot to sacrifice but you spend so much time with your dancing friends that the pros outweigh the cons by a mile. Then, it all makes perfect sense when you hold the globe up, and there’s honestly no better feeling in the whole world, and to know all the work paid off.

Who makes your dance costumes and how often do you get a new dress? Eire Designs by Gavin Doherty has always made my costumes. I’ve never had a costume made by anyone else, he made my first costume when I was about 18 moths old! His dresses are gorgeous and he always come up with new stuff. I probably get a new costume every year, sometimes twice a year because I’m growing (finally!!), and when I think he cant top the last one he does. He is am amazing designer.

What make of ghillies do you own and why do you love them? I wear Hullachan Pro Red pump because they give you a beautiful arch and are really comfortable to wear.

We love your overall look. What wig do you wear and can you share where you bought it? I’m currently wearing the Matilda wig from Melaine Murphy and Gavin Doherty made my red hairband. I’ve always worn Melaine’s wigs, they’re such good quality and last for so long. Like my costumes from Gavin, I’ve never worn a wig from anyone else. Danielle Fegan does my makeup, she is so talented and her makeup always looks stunning and lasts the whole day.

Do you use a notebook to write down teacher’s comments or do you have your teacher or Mum video tape you dancing? Both

What is something about you that people may not know? I love to sing and have my own CD - Swept Away.

Read the complete interview in Irish Dancing Magazine's Print edition by selecting the June-July 2019 issue in a single issue order, or purchase a 12-month subscription and request to begin with the June-July 2019 issue. Save 17% off the cover price when purchasing a 12 month subscription to the magazine. Order now

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With thanks to photographer: Grant Parfery for his incredible cover shot and images of Ella Owens




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