Katie Krych studies piano at the conservatory here, but one of her great passions is Irish dance. Just weeks before this school year started, one of her dreams came true. Krych, a junior, had always wanted to dance in Riverdance, the enormously popular Irish step dancing show. In late August, she got a call asking her to be a temporary replacement in the company. Under this arrangement, “they fly me to where they need me, and then fly me back home when the original dancer returns,” Krych explains. Krych’s interest in dance started at the age of 7, when she started with tap and jazz lessons. At 13, she heard about the Heritage Academy of Irish Dance, which was just opening in Green Bay. “I joined and I was hooked ever since,” she says. “Dance was just my thing.” Soon thereafter, she discovered Riverdance on television, and ever since, she was “intent on dancing with them.” Krych’s work with her studio helped strengthen her ability to capture an audience and won her lead roles in dance productions. At 16, her instructors offered to support her if she chose to get more serious with Irish dance, and she accepted. “Irish dance is a really a hidden world,” Krych explains. “Competition is your life.” In North America there are about 300 competitions a year with almost 2000 competitors. The competitive dancer competes 20 times a year. Dancers start at the beginner level, and work their way up to the championship division. Krych has been competing at the championship level in the Midwest, which qualifies her for Oireachtas, the national competition. “Dancing at nationals gets your name out there and allows show directors and bigwigs to see you perform,” she says. She has danced with The Chieftains and The Trinity Irish Dance Company, a favorite group of hers. This past summer, Krych was accepted into a choreography program in New York City with many different kinds of dancers and choreographers. The program “really wasn’t about learning how to dance better,” she says. “It was more about exploring the world of choreography.” In New York, she collaborated with Sean Curran, who has done choreography for Broadway shows, operas, and Irish dance companies. Later in the summer, Krych was a counselor at Camp Rince Ceol, an Irish dancing camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Instead of being paid, she took free private dance lessons with the camp instructors, who are all professional or world champion dancers. After camp, she attended two workshops with Jean Butler, the original lead dancer in Riverdance. “Ever since I saw her in Riverdance I have always aspired to dance like her,” she says. Krych is looking forward to continue working with Riverdance. “Dancers in shows like Riverdance are all champion dancers,” she says. And although she loves dance, Krych plans to graduate from LU with a music education degree. Eventually, she wants to teach general music in a middle or elementary school. “But after I graduate,” she says, “I may take a year or two off to dance professionally.