Local student participated in world’s largest Riverdance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lauren Broussard of LaPlace, Ashley Hidalgo Goodwin of Baton Rouge, Stephanie Katz of Mandeville, Crystal Schayot of New Orleans and Katy Truluck of Denham Springs traveled to Dublin, Ireland, on a weekend break from Southeastern’s London study abroad program. Several months before the trip, Katz saw a call for “Riverdance: The Gathering,” an event that was to host 1,000 dancers who would break the world record of 652 set in Nashville 2011.
She recruited other students who were going on the study abroad trip to join her on the three-day adventure.
On July 21, Broussard, Katz, Schayot and Truluck participated in the actual dance line, and Goodwin was on hand to watch her new-found friends break a world record. The World Record Academy reported that 1,693 people from 44 countries participated in this record-breaking Riverdance event.
“The Gathering was a thrilling experience that exceeded my expectations for Dublin,” said organizational communication graduate student Broussard. “Dancing on such an iconic spot as the River Liffey was unreal and truly a moment I will never forget. It will also be a great story to tell my children and grandchildren one day.”
Truluck echoed Broussard, saying that she never would have thought she would be a part of such a momentous occasion. The students participated in line with all the other Riverdancers whose feet pounded the Samuel Beckett and Sean O’Casey bridges in Dublin. Goodwin said the bridges were actually swaying as she was watching.
Truluck and Schayot have been life-long dancers and believe this was particularly special for them. Dressed in all black, they were fulfilling a dream of dancing with professionals on a special stage.
“As a dancer and choreographer, I’m always anxious to explore new movement and try different styles of dance,” said Schayot. “I had never tried the Riverdance, but I was able to pick up on it in time for the world record attempt in Dublin. It was incredible to see so many talented dancers from so many different countries come together for a special event like this.”
While there was no shortage of professionals and those who came from large dance schools to participate, beginners were just as welcome. Katz used to take Irish dance classes several years ago and was so inspired by the event, she said she will begin taking classes again in Metairie.
“You don’t realize just how incredible the Riverdancers are until you try it for yourself,” she said. “Their feet move so fast, and it took so much practice to learn all the choreography, but I will forever get to say that I got the chance to Irish dance in Dublin with Riverdance in the same line with original lead dancer Jean Butler to break a world record. Definitely an unforgettable experience.”
The trip to Dublin was a quick one-hour flight from London, which allowed the students to leave early Saturday morning and get back in time to join the study abroad group Monday. Each year, Professors Jim Winter and Amber Narro ensure students travel to at least one other country with an annual day trip.
“The England study abroad program, like other European programs, allows students to ‘country hop’ during their downtime,” said Narro. “This time, the students one-upped those before them where short trips were concerned. Between Ireland, Scotland, Spain and England, the 2013 students were well-traveled.”
The annual England study abroad program offers theater and communication students the opportunity to study their crafts in London. For three weeks, students participate in such activities as watching West End productions, visiting Shakespeare’s The Globe, touring the BBC and Olympic Village and conversing with professionals in their fields of study. 
“England is the perfect stage for both programs,” said Professor Jim Winter. “As Shakespeare’s birthplace and home of the BBC, our students see things they would never experience on campus or even in this country, for that matter.”