Dance | Dublin | Ireland | Ohio

Seventeen Year Old Irish Dancer's 'Only In America' Story

And now, a nice St. Paddy's Day story.

If you haven't already, meet Drew Lovejoy. He's 17. He lives in rural Ohio. He's half black, half Jewish. And he's the best traditional Irish dancer of his age in the world. In February, for the third consecutive year, he placed first in hs age group at the All Irish Dancing Championship, in Dublin. A profile of Lovejoy in today's New York Times (whence I borrowed the above pic) calls his an "only in America story" -- a notion which makes me feel rather patriotic.

But Lovejoy's American story is tinged with typically American tragedy. From the Times:

In the dance world, his unusual background was a plus ... But it has served him less well here in his hometown, where a rural stretch of road bisects sweeping pastures dotted with aging barns. He moved here when he was 9, after his mother married Donald Goldberg, a Greenville resident she met at a nearby synagogue. (She had parted with Drew’s biological father, Terrance Lovejoy, when Drew was still a baby, though she remains on good terms with him, and says he sometimes rides to Drew’s competitions with her husband.)

It was not easy. Drew was a dancer, unusual for boys here, and black in a mostly white town. Bullying eventually prompted his mother to pull him out of school and start him in an online education program. He is still there today.

While most townspeople accept him, with some going out of their way to make him feel comfortable, Drew said he still does not feel entirely at ease. He does not walk the dog after dark.

“I feel like I have to watch my back,” he said, his hands resting flat on the green kitchen tablecloth.

I can't find any recordings of Lovejoy's recent performances, but here you can view a vid shot shortly after his first Dublin championship. (I'd post it to the blog, but the "embed" function's been disabled.)

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  1. I did irish dance for 6 years. It's totally a world of its own.

    Posted by: Reality | Mar 18, 2012 7:48:44 AM

  2. P.S. you people who are hell-bent on finding out if he's gay need to step back and realize you're creepy for trying to out a 17 year old child. Grow up, seriously.

    Posted by: Reality | Mar 18, 2012 7:50:59 AM

  3. @BTK :

    I totally agree with your distiction between "USA" and "America".

    But apart from my agreement (!) it is also correct.
    Now if only people would understand the "The British Isles" does NOT include Ireland , or any part of it, and is exclusively England Scotland Wales and their islands, eg Hebrides, Shetland, Lundy, Lindisfarne etc.......then we would all be happier.

    Ireland was never British, if may have been in the UK from 1801 to 1922 but it was never a British matter what the Times Atlas says.
    I take your point Brandon, I hope you can appreciate mine.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 18, 2012 8:31:12 AM

  4. 'Only in America?'

    Only what? That someone outside the perceived realm of 'Irishness' is welcomed into the Irish dancing world and faces abuse from other elements for doing so.

    Only in America indeed. In Ireland he would be held in higher respect - Irish dancers are well respected in Ireland.

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 18, 2012 10:22:07 AM

  5. About drew being gay .... I can tell you he is not. He is an amazing dancer and an amazing person .. Lots of love HIS GIRLFRIEND .. So sorry no radar is beeping

    Posted by: JadeX | Mar 21, 2012 9:17:37 PM

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