My name is Mya Toal-Allen. I’m 11 years old, from Crumlin, County Antrim, and I’d like to share my story about my passion for Irish Dancing and thank my mum and teachers from Doherty Petri, School of Irish Dancing, in Belfast and New York who have worked so hard to help me become not only an All-Ireland, but also a North American National champion.
I started dancing when I was only three years old. My mum Arlene is my inspiration as she toured the world as a professional dancer with Riverdance, and Lord of the Dance, which is my ultimate dream and life goal, to be in the cast of Riverdance one day – just like my mum.
Irish Dancing is great fun and I’ve made so many new friends because of dancing, but if you want to compete you do have to train really hard. I currently practise four days a week, sometimes even more if I have a big competition coming up, you have to be dedicated. At the moment I’m training for the World Championships at The Convention Centre in Dublin in April. It’s a special 50th Anniversary year this year so it would be amazing to get a podium place or to win.
I know that lots of other kids might be put off by all the hours I seem to spend practising instead of relaxing after school (and I still have all my homework to do too), but it’s so worthwhile and I’ve had so many amazing opportunities, including travelling the world to do something I love – how many other 11-year-olds can say that?
Recently I won the All Irelands in Killarney, beating almost 150 other competitors, and I’ve also been the North American Champion twice in 2018 and 2019. It can be really tough sometimes, after all everyone else there wants to win too. No matter how many times I get ready to go on stage I still get butterflies in my tummy and feel a bit nervous. When I feel the butterflies I just jump around until the music starts and when I begin to dance they soon fly away.
The thing I love most about Irish Dancing is that it’s given me a way to make my family and my teachers (who have all spent so much time encouraging me) really proud. And I’m proud of myself too. Having a passion for something – like with me Irish Dancing – has given me confidence and belief in myself that I can be in Riverdance one day – and achieve anything else I might want to when I’m older. I think it’s really important for kids to feel that anything is possible. I’ve had so many opportunities that I’m thankful for that I just want to say to other kids, and adults, – try something new and find something you love to do that makes you happy. Wish me luck for April!
Image: Mya at the All Ireland Championships (INEC Killarney) in February 2020.
If you’re a smart kid with something to say WE’RE ALL EARS!
Greta Thunberg has proved without question that ‘no one is too small to make a difference’. We want to give kids across NI the chance to share a story about something that’s really important to them… their passion, the environment, their community, a group they belong to or something they want our politicians to change… In each issue of Ni4kids we will be publishing a guest column from a young person to let them have their voice heard. Email columns (max 500 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, age and parental / guardian daytime contact details.