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Ladner mom takes on a world of 20-year-olds at twice their age

One of only of two locals to compete in Irish dancing at North American championship
Ladner Irish Dancers
Halina Grund and Lia Munro danced against the world in Montreal, recently.

A Ladner mom who took on the best the world has to offer in Irish dancing recently finished 70th out of a field of competition of 104 – younger dancers.

“I felt like that was an accomplishment,” said Lia Munro, 38, who dances with the O’Brien School of Irish Dance in Ladner.

She, along with fellow school member Halina Grund, in the U-17 category, were the first two from the Ladner school to make it to the North American Irish Dance Championships.

Munro has been dancing since she was 10, but quit the stage when she was 20. Becoming a mom and other demands led to her packing up her dancing shoes and costumes and just relying on memories of what it was like to be on stage.

But when her daughter Jaida started dancing five years ago, Lia rejoined the adult group, content just to be in the background, knowing her better days were behind her – until one of the competitive dancers broke her foot, just days before St. Patrick’s Day events.

With the group needing a substitute, Lia stepped up, and during the course of two dances, she rejoined the heady world of competitive dance.

After five years of training and trying to get back to 20-something condition, Munro competed in the over-22 age category, July 1 to 5, at the North American Irish Dance Championships in Montreal.

The competition involved dancers from around the world, mostly from the U.S. and mostly 20 years younger than her.

“It was just the excitement of being able to get back there,” she said.

It wasn’t certain she’d be on the stage however. She had to stop practising the week before to deal with a knee injury. But on competition day, she was good to go.

Having reached the international stage, Lia wants to do the same again next year, when the North American championships take place in Nashville, Tenn. But first she has to qualify in November.

Halina is similarly motivated, said her mom Brandy. Competing in Montreal was an amazing experience and Halina, who finished in the top half of the competition, wants to get back to the nationals for which she’s already qualified, said Brandy.

In fact, the championships have just “inflamed their motivation to continue training,” she said of Halina and Lia.

For Halinda, training goes on most days of the week, if not in dance, then strength training, stretching or biking or hiking.

“It seems like more of a performance sport but they’re actually very strong athletes,” said Brandy. “It’s actually a pretty cool sport. It’s her love. It’s her passion.”