A World-Class Irish Dancer Lives in Greendale

Maddie Sliwinski competed in, and won, the World Irish Dancing Championships when she was still in middle school.

For years, the Trinity Irish Dancers have been a sure-footed fixture of the city’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade (this year’s parade has been canceled). They wear elaborate costumes and even more elaborate wigs. Plus they’re capable of leaping through the streets of Milwaukee in perfect unison.

We asked 14-year-old Greendale High School freshman and Trinity student Maddie Sliwinski – who manages to maintain a 3.6 GPA while taking dance classes three or four times a week, and often attending competitions on the weekends – to tell us more about her unique hobby.

So what’s Irish about Irish dancing?

Irish dancers dance with their arms at their sides.

Do you think of it as more of a sport, or more of an artform?

I think of it as a sport because you need to train like an athlete. You need strength, conditioning and stamina.

How’d you get into it?

I remember going to Irish Fest when I was about 4. I saw a bunch of other girls dancing there and really wanted to join them. … I’ve met a lot of my best friends through the classes.

Tell us about the costumes you wear.

Each costume is made specifically for one dancer – there are dressmakers all around the world who design and make them.

Is your family Irish?

I have some Irish heritage, yeah. I went to Ireland in 2017 for a competition. The World [Irish Dancing] Championships were being held in Dublin, and we actually ended up winning the whole thing. It was really great to be there and see all these dancers that inspired me, and all the champions from past years.

What advice would you give other kids interested in signing up for their first class?

I would say to just have fun with it, and don’t worry about what other people think. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s March issue. 

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.