This year, as competitors start step dancing across the stage at the World Irish Dancing Championships, PPL will have a representative on stage.
The championships will be held March 21-27 in Glasgow, Scotland. PPL Electric Utilities’ Alexandra Owensby will don her traditional Celtic costume and compete.
A life goal
Owensby isn’t sure she’ll come back with a trophy or title, but the prestige of just getting to compete in the “Olympics of Irish dancing” fulfills a life goal.
“It’s always been something I’ve strived for,” said the support engineer.
And believe it or not, the perseverance she’s learned from Irish dancing has actually helped her in her role at PPL.
“It’s helped me develop a strong work ethic, time management and most importantly, discipline,” said Owensby, who has been with PPL five years.
Irish dancing is incredibly athletic and acrobatic, Owensby explained. And she has to cross-train just to be able to keep up with the dances. That means fitting in workouts and training whenever she can.
Typically, Owensby fits in a workout before work and cross trains after work, in addition to dancing in the studio. To prepare for the competition, Owensby will spend most nights practicing at the O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance in Easton, Pa. Even when she’s not prepping for a competition, she’s still dancing two to three days each week.
When she takes a vacation day from work, she usually spends it dancing. Over the next few weeks, she’ll perform at Irish Cultural Community Day in Allentown, in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Allentown and Bethlehem and other shows throughout the Lehigh Valley.
Getting an early start
Owensby grew up in Oregon and took up Irish dancing at the age of 12. She said while many stop dancing as they get older, she’s gotten more involved – seeing it as a great way to stay fit.
Each year, Owensby has competed in Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha’s regional championships. She had always hoped to place high enough at regionals to qualify for the World Irish Dancing Championships. But when she packed her bags for the mid-Atlantic regional championship, held last year over Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, she figured this time she’d just be dancing for fun.
Owensby danced with approximately 70 other contenders in the over-20 category. The mid-Atlantic competition featured dancers from New Jersey, New York, the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“I’ve always been one or two places away (from qualifying) when I’ve competed. I thought I was the Susan Lucci of Irish dancing,” Owensby joked.
But not this year. She earned her place and will be in Scotland.
Last year, more than 5,000 competitors danced in the World Irish Dancing Championships.