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UNH Sophomore Competes in World Irish Step Dance Championships

Release Date:
3/19/2012 11:54 AM
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David Janovsky, 500px David Janovsky '14

March 19, 2012

WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- Since David Janovsky started Irish dancing in the fifth grade, he has performed around the world.  He appeared recently with the Chieftains at The New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts and he has performed several times at Carnegie Hall.

Yet one of his most important performances will be on April 6 and 8, when he will compete in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the World Irish Step Dance Championships for solo and team dancing.  He has competed frequently before in the U.S. and Canada and in Dublin, Ireland.  This time, he hopes to win a medal and do better than his first world competition last year, when he finished in the top 25.  

“I have won several competitions but not any major ones yet,” said Janovsky, a sophomore who is studying math education and is the drum major of the marching band. “I am striving for the top and to be the best I can be.”

Janovsky, 19,  hopes one day to own a world class Irish dancing studio.  For now, though, he is concentrating on perfecting the dancing he began when he was just 10 years old.

“My sister was doing it when I was little and it occurred to me that it was a boy’s sport too,” he said.  “After I started it, I just stuck with it.” Ironically, his sister, who is older, retired from dancing when she was in high school.  Janovsky hopes to dance through graduate school and then obtain credentials to teach it.

“I absolutely love it. It is my life,” he says. “Even though kids would tease me, I knew it was something I was good at and something I didn’t want to give up.”

Janovsky says he has learned self-discipline through the dancing and respect for both himself and his teachers.

“I try to practice for one to two hours a day at least four times a week,” he said. “I practice alone and I go to dance classes when I am home.” A resident of Manville, N.J., Janovsky takes lessons at the Peter Smith School of Irish dance.

Part Polish and part Irish, Janovsky says the competition will include several dancers on stage at the same time performing their routines, which will be ranked by the judges. “The judges rank us on our techniques, skill level and style of dancing. They also judge us on how well we execute our steps,” he said.

The competition is quick. The routine with “heavy shoes,” those made of fiberglass with taps on the bottom (think Riverdance) lasts only a minute and a half.  It focuses on rhythm and stamina. 

The routine with the soft (quiet) shoes lasts 45 seconds and focuses on fluidity and style. Dancers who do well are recalled for a long round that lasts one to three minutes, which is the dancer’s showcase piece.

Will he be nervous?  Janovsky says he is always nervous when he wants on stage. But when the music starts, his years of training result in absolute focus.

“I treat it like a job,” he said. “I know what I have to do. But it is also enjoyable to the point where ‘work’ is the best part of the day.”

As for Carnegie Hall, Janovsky says dancing there was “so absolutely incredible that words can’t describe it.”

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and University College, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.