TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Daniel Callanan has the gangly look of a middle school student, just coming into his own as a young man with the glint of Ireland in his eyes and the polite handshake of an eldest child. He's an athlete with a busy schedule, a good student and the oldest in a tight-knit family of six.
But the 7th grader at the Transfiguration School in Tarrytown stands out, though, in one particular area. Callanan happens to be the Boys-Under 12 2016 World Irish Dancing Champion.
He is a bit modest about it as he matures into a young man. Still, you cannot miss the three huge silver trophies in his family's living room, including the big globe -- transported all the way from Glasgow, Scotland, after Callanan swept the competition in the under-12 age group with his fast-moving feet and his well-trained legs.
Focused primarily on footwork, Irish dancing is performed either individually or by teams of dancers, and is accompanied by traditional Irish music played on a variety of instruments like the accordion, piano, fiddle, flute or banjo. Timing and rhythm are extremely important, along with the intricate and fast-paced footwork that has as seen in "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance."
Although he is no stranger to competition -- Callanan came in third place in 2015 at the World Championships -- he had a feeling that 2016 might be his year.
Perhaps it was all that practice, pretty much day and night in the months leading up to the world competition.
"It's all about the focus," he said. "You have to be in the zone."
Callanan has been dancing since he was four years old, and he continues to practice at the Lynn Academy of Irish Dance in Tarrytown, a growing Irish dance center run by his aunt Maureen Collins, with help from dozens of instructors.
His mother, Mary Lynn Collins-Callanan, is also an instructor and his grandmother, Dr. Mary Lynn Collins, is enrollment director.
Callanan also plays football, lacrosse and basketball. He tries hard to balance his traditional sports schedule with his dance schedule.
"I like to stay busy," he said. "I love sports, and Irish dancing is a sport, too. I've met so many great kids in Irish dancing."
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