By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
‘Close to my roots'
Forsyth teen to compete in Irish championships
Oireachtas 2009 042
Kristina McCabe and her dance teacher, Carl Drake, at a competition last year. - photo by Submitted
St. Patrick’s Day will mean much more to one Forsyth County teenager this year than just wearing green and going to parties.

Kristina McCabe is preparing to journey “across the pond” at the end of March to compete in the world championships of Irish dance in Scotland.

Her mother, Joan, said this is the third time the 16-year-old has made it to the supreme level of dance competition.

“She also made it in 2007 and 2008,” she said, adding that both times her daughter placed in the top 13 for her age category, which included more than 130 dancers from around the world.

But she’s not surprised. Her daughter has been dancing jigs, so to speak, since age 3, when she started taking Irish dance and ballet. She soon dropped the ballet, but kept the Irish.

The family’s south Forsyth home is filled with photographs of Kristina McCabe in various Irish dance costumes, competing and receiving medals and trophies.

The basement includes its own mirrored, vinyl-floored practice room, where she can work on her routines, which are full of jumps, kicks and intricate footwork.

“That was one of the requirements when we bought this house. It had to have a dance room,” said Joan McCabe, recalling the family’s move to Forsyth in 2006.

“Her dad built her one in our house in Florida, and any new house we bought had to have something similar.”

Kristina McCabe said she spends about six hours a week in that room, in addition to three-hour lessons nearly every weeknight with teacher Carl Drake in his Norcross school.

On top of that, her mother said, the teenager also runs 5 miles every day on the family’s tread mill.

Despite her busy dance and workout routine, she still makes time to be a successful student at Pinecrest Academy, where she is also a cheerleader and golfer.

But Kristina McCabe’s main love is Irish dance.

“Just from the very first day I did it, I loved it,” she said.

“I know a lot of kids who have piano lessons or something, and they just dread it. But [Irish dance] was never like that for me. I always loved it.”

But the competition costumes — heavily beaded, stiff skirts — were another matter.

“She put it on [the first time] and it was so heavy that when she took one step, she just fell over,” Joan McCabe recalled with a laugh.

The costumes, which the family has custom made and shipped from a dress shop in Ireland, and ornate competition wigs don’t seem to bother her anymore.

She’ll be donning the outfit many times next week, she said, noting that St. Patrick’s Day is “really busy” with “everyone wanting performances.”

One of those will be for a Pinecrest prekindergarten class that includes her 4-year-old brother, Sean Padraig McCabe.

She and other dancers from her school were also scheduled to take part in Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday.

On March 27, the entire family will journey to Scotland for the world championship. Traditionally held in Ireland, the event has shifted recently to other countries, including the U.S. last year.

Kristina McCabe is scheduled to compete March 31.

While there, Joan McCabe said they will probably visit with family in Ireland.

“We just make a big family vacation out of it,” she said.

“We’ve been to Ireland before [for the championships] and it’s weird that we’re there for Irish dancing, when none of our cousins who actually live in Ireland dance.”

And Kristina McCabe plans to keep it up for as long as she can. She hopes in a couple years to earn a scholarship through an American Irish dancing organization and attend college in Florida.

If so, she could work part time at Drake’s school there, teaching others the craft.

She said she probably doesn’t want to make dance her full-time career, but wouldn’t mind keeping it “as a side job.”

“I love it. I just love it,” she said. “It’s always been close to me and close to my roots.”