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Deirdre Penk, a West Vancouver resident, began dancing at age four. She won the North American Championships and the Overseas Trophy three times and was recognized as one of the top 10 dancers in the World at seven World Irish Dance Championships. She placed second at the Great Britain and British National Championships and finished her competitive career after the 1989 World Championships where she placed 5th.
Deirdre is internationally recognized for her talent and passion for Irish Dance. She is renowned for excellence and for maintaining high standards in student training, producing dancers of extraordinary talent and achievements. She is also a CLRG registered Irish Dance Adjudicator and has judged all over the World including the Australian National Championships, New Zealand National Championships, Great Britain Open Championships, All Scotland Open Championships, All Ireland Open Championships, North American Open Championships and World Championships.
Deirdre loves to teach! She wants each child to have an invaluable dancing experience regardless of background, or ability. You do not have to be Irish to do Irish Dance!
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Patrick started Irish dancing at the age of 11 under the watchful eye of expert Christine Angliss from Coventry, England.
The passion was there from the beginning, but the talent, that was a different story. Due to Patrick’s astigmatism, his lack of balance, overly large ears and his fragile ability to concentrate, it was believed by many that Patrick would have been better off in the circus.
“He was not easily discouraged,” said Mrs. Angliss with dismay, “and trust me we tried”.
At the age of seventeen, it was as though Patrick went to Woolworth’s one day and picked up a brain. Over the next five years, Patrick won the All England five times, the All Ireland three times and came second in the World Championships twice. Now this didn’t just happen out of nowhere, Patrick decided to dedicate himself to something that he was passionate about.
Patrick emigrated to Canada in 1982, but returned to England in 1987 to dance again, again coming second in the world championships. In his 29th year (now well passed it, by many accounts) he returned again for one last kick at the cat, so to speak.
In 1988 Patrick O’Donnell, won the senior mens World championships in Galway Ireland. When speaking with Patrick now, he thanks profusely two people in his life for this accomplishment. “My teacher from England, Christine Angliss, and this wee girl I was hanging out with at the time, for all her encouragement and never say die attitude, Deirdre Penk” And the rest, as they say, is history!
Kaleigh is a past dancer with the Penk O’Donnell School and started Irish dancing at age 9. In the 18 years she danced, Kaleigh won many solo championships and was recognized as top 3 at the Western US Regional Oireachtas and 11th at the North American Championships. She qualified to represent the Western US at the World Championships 11 years in a row.
Highlights of Kaleigh’s career are her two World Championship solo recall medals, her World Championship Ceili medal and performing at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Kaleigh passed her TCRG exam in 2016 and now teaches for the Penk-O’Donnell School in Bellingham, Washington. Kaleigh thoroughly enjoys teaching and passing on her love of Irish dance. She hopes to build many champion dancers!