Meet The Dancers
Meet the minds behind the footwork! Céilí at the Crossroads is made up of talented and dedicated individuals who love nothing more than to share their love of Irish dance with the community.
Catherine started dancing before she could read. The Lenexa, Kan., native revealed that no one thought she would last beyond the first class. In a career that has spanned nearly 18 years, Catherine can safely say she proved all of the naysayers wrong. She has not only competed at the preliminary championship level, she has also competed at Oireachtas on multiple occasions for solo competitions and group dances.
“(Dancing) is fun, especially in big group dances,” said the fiery redhead who is known for her take-no-prisoners approach to hardshoe and the excellent technical precision it requires.
Kiera was born and raised in Lenexa, Kan. She has been dancing since she was five-years-old when she began her dancer career with The O'Riada Acadamy of Irish Dance under Christine O'Riada and she's been dancing ever since.
Once she left for college, Kiera simply couldn't stop dancing. She is a former member of Rince Revolution. In 2012, Kiera became a co-founder of Céilí at the Crossroads. She felt there was a need to create a group for dancers who, like her, also didn't want to stop dancing.
Performing, as well as competing, has always been a part of Kiera’s dance career, with her signature trait being mile-long legs that allow her to travel gracefully across the stage. She loves the creativity you can have with choreography and finding fun music. She also absolutely loves performing and sharing her love of dance with anyone who will watch.
Kiernan’s love for Irish dancing was ignited when she was seven-years-old when Christine O'Riada put on a demonstration at her school. Though she has been trained in other areas of dance including ballet, jazz, tap and modern, Kiernan did not actually start Irish dancing until she was 13—a late bloomer by most Irish dancing standards. Nevertheless, Irish dancing has played a pivotal role in the Olathe, Kan., native’s life ever since and she is excited to now share that passion on the stage with Céilí at the Crossroads.
“Dancing expresses what my words can't,” said Kiernan, whose influence can be seen in the modern flair in some of the dances. “I am so honored to be dancing with these talented ladies. They constantly challenge and push me to do my best and my only hope is that the audience can see my love of the dance up on the stage.”
Lauren’s dance career began after seeing Michael Flatley’s Riverdance at the age of seven. Competition and performance have been a part of Lauren’s life for over 18 years as she has competed across the country at the preliminary championship level. She has also competed at the Midwest Oireachtas in Chicago, IL, and Columbus, OH, for both solo and team dances.
“I hope the audience sees my excitement and joy to dance for them,” said the spunky performer, who is known for her mega-watt smile and exuberant stage presence.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Allie Mordan has been dancing since she was 4-years-old. She danced with the O’Riada Manning Academy from 1997 to about 2013. She then retired from competitive dancing, only to come out of retirement in 2014 to dance at Oireachtas again with a team. Allie joined Céilí at the Crossroads in 2016.
After spending nearly 20 years of her life Irish dancing, Allie (who is a 3rd grade teacher by day) realized there was a void in her life. After hearing about us through former O'Riada teammates, she realized that what was missing from her life was dancing.
"Irish dancing is part of my soul," she says. "I grew up listening to the music and making art with my movements and rhythm. I feel like a part of me is missing if I’m not dancing."
Irish dance empowers Allie to make decisions and to live her life confidently. A powerful dancer, Allie feels most beautiful when she's dancing...and it shows. As she says, "Everything makes sense in the world if I am dancing."
Fun Fact: "I'm a little too good at Skyrim."
Amelia Gardner comes to us from St. Louis, MO...and we're so glad she found her way to Kansas City. A student at Rockhurst University studying psychology and exercise science, Amelia discovered Céilí at the Crossroads while doing the céilí workshops at Irish Fest each year after attending the Kansas City Feis.
A former competitive dancer with Clark Academy of Irish Dance, Amelia has spent the last 10 years traveling all over the country for feisana, Oireachtas, Nationals, and Worlds.
"I love that the Irish dance community is such a small and supportive community," she says. "My favorite thing is whenever you meet another Irish dancer and there's just a moment of like 'Wow! You understand me!'"
Amelia believes that Irish dance creates a special connection between people, and her infectious happiness is the first thing you notice about her every time she graces the stage.
Fun Fact: "I can recite the prologue of Beowulf in Old English."
Annie Stark was born in Seattle, WA, and grew up in Kansas City. As a third generation Irish dancer, step dancing has been a tradition in her family since her great grandfather immigrated from Sligo, Ireland.
Annie currently dances competitively for and teaches at the Driscoll School of Irish Dance, and you can also find her at O’Dowds Irish pub on the weekends playing the fiddle and dancing! This girl truly lives and breathes Irish music and dance.
"What I love most about Irish dance is that feeling I get when the music starts, and I know there's nothing else I love more," she explains. "The music goes straight into my body and entices me to dance. I love the energy, grace, and happiness of this dance form, as well as the hard work that goes into training each and every day."
By day, Annie work in special ed and runs her own small Etsy business, Rince Couture, which is a shop for Irish dance accessories and Celtic jewelry.
Fun Fact: "One thing that people usually don’t know about me, is that I’ve swam in alligator infested waters just because my uncle told me to do it," she said.
Another St. Louis native, Beth Wiese found herself in Kansas City for a job after graduating from Mizzou. While Irish dance was a part of her life during her childhood, it wasn't until her early twenties that her love for dance truly blossomed.
A former dancer with Graham Academy of Irish Dance in St. Louis and Pure Irish at Mizzou, Beth currently dances competitively with Dowds Irish Dance Academy, where she is blazing a fiery trail in the competitive world.
"I love the physical aspect of dance, but more than anything I love how it brings people together," Beth says. "I still dance competitively and this gives me good excuses to plan fun vacations to places like Orlando, New Orleans or Ireland."
Beth discovered Céilí and the Crossroads because (in her words), "I was lucky enough to meet Amelia who got me involved." And we couldn't be happier to have her!
Fun Fact: "I am an industrial engineer and I work at Burns & McDonnell. I do consulting in the power industry. If your power goes out, it's not my fault. If your bill gets higher, it may or may not be my fault."
Leslie McDonough's dance resume (and passport stamp collection) is impressive, to say the least. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Leslie's dance career has spanned two decades and a handful of countries across the globe.
She has danced with the Burke School of Irish Dance in Youngstown, and formed her own dance school before merging with the McCafferty School of Irish Dance. She has also dance with the Irish Dance Center in Austin, TX, the Maguire Academy in Dallas, TX, the Sarah Clark Dance Academy in Paris and the Hession School in Galway, Ireland. From 2010-2011, Leslie toured with the National Dance Company of Ireland’s show Rhythm of the Dance.
"I love that Irish dance both connects us to our Irish roots and promotes Irish arts and culture in a modern context," she explains. "For me, dancing is a lifelong passion and creative outlet that is expressive, empowering, and promotes wellness for my mind and body."
A professional brand strategist and freelancer, Leslie came to Kansas City by way of New York. She saw Céilí at the Crossroads perform with the Elders at Knuckleheads and was impressed.
"I knew I immediately wanted to be a part of the group!" she says. "I am so grateful to have found a group of awesome and talented ladies to dance with in KC!"
Fun Fact: "I am a history nerd, crossword enthusiast, and can play a mean game of ping pong."
Leawood, Kan., native Delainey Griffin got her start in Irish dancing with the O'Riada Academy of Irish Dance, and now, 19 years later, we are so excited to have her as part of the group!
Delainey thought she had retired from Irish dance until she bumped into Kiera at one of our céilís, and, as she says, "Seeing everyone dancing made me realize how much I missed it!"
When Delainey isn't dancing with us, she's pursuing her degree in Elementary Education as well as working as a nanny.
"I love when I finally can do difficult steps," Delainey says about what she loves most about Irish dance. "It is such a good feeling to work hard for something and to see the results."
Fun Fact: "I make a mean lasagna."