Competitors in the Gold Coast Feis held at the Tweed Heads Sports Club at the weekend.
Competitors in the Gold Coast Feis held at the Tweed Heads Sports Club at the weekend. Milton Baar

Dancers flock to Gold Coast Feis

IRISH dancers from across Australia and New Zealand flocked to the Tweed Heads Sports Club on the weekend to take part in the Gold Coast Feis.

More than 350 competitors graced the Tweed stage, while famous faces from both the national and international Irish dancing community attended the event as judges.

Watkins Academy of Irish Dance and Gold Coast Feis committee member Sheryl Watkins said the judges, competitors and their families were highly impressed with the Tweed region.

“The competition went very well and everyone said they loved the area and the venue,” Ms Watkins said.

“The staff and the facilities at the Tweed Heads Sports Club were great and we kept them very busy.”

Ms Watkins said the competition level was very high during the two-day event.

“The standard of dancing was very high, dancers travelled from all over Australia and New Zealand,” Ms Watkins said.

“The Tweed residents who were there were very impressed with the dancing - they really were the cream of the crop.”

The competition began on Saturday at 8am with the dancing continuing to 9pm. The dancers then resumed their competition on Sunday morning with the competition concluding at 7pm on Sunday evening.

Irish dance teacher John Cunniffe travelled to Tweed to adjudicate the Gold Coast Feis and after previously adjudicating at championships throughout North America, Ireland and the UK including the North American Championships and the World Championships.

Principal performer for professional dance company Strictly Irish Martin Percival also made the trip to Tweed to adjudicate along with Australian teacher and performer Christine Portbury who is a respected member of the Australian Irish dancing community.

This is the first time the Gold Coast Feis, which included an intermediate premiership and open championship, was held at the sports club.

Ms Watkins said the Tweed location provided a picturesque tourist location for the competitors and their visiting families, many of whom travelled long distances to attend the competition.

“The area is a wonderful tourist spot, so the dancers can come for the competition and for a holiday,” Ms Watkins said.

Ms Watkins said judge Christine Portbury was especially happy to adjudicate in the Tweed region, after living nearby on the Gold Coast for many years.

“For Christine, who used to live in Runaway Bay it was just like coming home,” Ms Watkins said.

“All the visiting judges were impressed with the Tweed region.”

The Gold Coast Feis is an annual and highly anticipated event for the Irish dancing community.

The venue and location for next year’s event will be announced in the coming months.

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