Irish Dancing Fuses Diverse Cultures

In a small school in the Bronx, far from Ireland, there's an unlikely group of Irish dancers.

"They are African American, they're Indian, they're Latino," said teacher Caroline Duggan.

Duggan founded the dance troupe shortly after moving from Ireland seven years ago to teach music at elementary school P.S. 59, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

"One day a child raised her hand and said, 'Why do you speak funny?' said Duggan. "I realized they're sitting listening to my accent the whole time - they're trying to figure out what am I."

What started as a way to help her students understand her, and a country most had never heard of, has snowballed into the school's most popular after-school program. Five hundred of the school's 540 students have tried out for the highly-coveted 35 spots on the Keltic Dreams.

Diamond Walker, one of the group's veterans, has been with Duggan from the beginning.

"She's my favorite teacher," Diamond said. "She's like our mom, like our second mom, because she always has time for us.

These kids from low income households who had never been on a plane before have now flown to Ireland twice, where they performed for the country's president. Duggan gets teary remembering how one student didn't have a passport until days before the trip.

"She got it literally the week before we went, that was emotional and still is," Duggan said. "Basically it's because you can't leave one behind."

They've dazzled New York's mayor, danced at city hall, and last night, headlined an Irish gala in Washington. Each new step teaches them a life-changing lesson.

"That tells me that I can be anything I want," said Hector Alamonte, a student.

Showing this dance troupe you don't need Irish roots to make Keltic Dreams come true.
  • Kelly Wallace

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