Martinez resident Baileigh Williamson doesn't get nervous easily, especially when doing what she loves - Irish dancing.
Soon, though, her nerves will be tested as she performs on an international stage at the Irish dance world championships in Glasgow, Scotland, April 1-8.
"I'm a little nervous at that," Baileigh admits.
Baileigh, 10, and her friend and fellow dancer, Alanna McArdle, 11, of Augusta, study at the Antrim Academy of Irish Dance and perform with the studio's Irish Dancers of Augusta troupe.
Baileigh qualified for the world championship - which is officially called the Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne - by placing fourth within the top 5 percent of dancers in her age category at the Southeast Region championship in December.
"There were some people that were really good that I thought I wasn't going to beat," said Baileigh, who has been dancing six days a week training for the world championship. "I got up there and tried my best and beat them."
Baileigh will be among 4,000 dancers who will perform for 12,000 spectators in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. She'll directly compete against 150-200 other dancers in the Under 11 category.
"It's a huge deal. We are so excited," said Amy Mooney, Baileigh's Irish dance teacher and the last Augusta dancer to qualify for the world championship in 2002. "They are really working hard and looking forward to it. It is a big honor to be selected to go."
Baileigh, a fourth-grader at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, said what makes the trip even better is she gets to go with Alanna, her best friend and fellow dancer who also qualified for the world championship. The pair will get to tour parts of Scotland together when they aren't competing.
"We're like buddies," Baileigh said. "When we're at school, we hang out and talk about going to Scotland and stuff. We're like partners in crime."
Baileigh said she got into Irish dancing at age 6 and has continued to do so because the dance is "really fun." One of her two younger sisters is also taking lessons, and her 3-year-old sister would like to join in some day.
Before the world championship, Baileigh's largest Irish dancing event was the national competition, which was held in July.
"It's pretty exciting," Baileigh said of heading to Scotland. "I thought nationals was the coolest thing. Now that I am going to world, it is kind of like 'OK, this is better than anything else.'"
Baileigh said she's been working hard on her dances, adding that the rhythm is just as important as the way the dance looks.
After countless hours of practice, Baileigh said she's looking to do well on the international stage. She hopes she'll get a request for a second performance, which would mean she's made the finals.
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