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On top of the world! ACHIEVEMENT: Teen still king of Irish dance.

Byline: By Leda Reynolds

A FLEET-footed teenager is following in the steps of the great Michael Flaherty after retaining his world Irish dance title.

Joe O'Donnell Bitter, a Solihull School pupil, who lives in Catherine-de-Barnes, beat off the challenge of 44 other contenders in the world championship finals held at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Judges from Chicago, Ireland, Australia and the UK awarded 14-year-old Joe an impressive 625 points out of a possible 700 in his bid to emulate the perfect score that he achieved in Glasgow last year.

As well as winning the solo dance championship, Joe clinched a second world title in the 16-hand figure choreography team event, bringing his tally of national and world titles he has either won or retained to 26.

Joe took his first Irish dance lessons at the Patricia Kennelly Dance School in San Francisco in 2002 while he was a pupil at the French-American School of Silicon Valley.

He won his first British title less than a year later at the age of eight.

His success persuaded his parents to move to Britain so that he could study at Solihull School and also attend the Danny Doherty Dance Academy in nearby Coventry.

He is currently being coached by eight-times world champion and former Lord of the Dance lead John Carey, who took over the running of the Doherty Academy Birmingham class last year.

Joe's mother, Nicole Bitter, said it was his sister Caroline, now a student at St Andrew's University, who inspired his interest in Irish dancing after she won a world title choreography competition.

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SMILES... Joe O'Donnell Bitter with his trophy.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Article Type:Dance review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 12, 2008
Words:273
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