Search for a Star winner off to US to defend title
By The Bristol Post | Thursday, June 28, 2012, 05:00
YOU could say that Hengrove teenager Mitchell Hodges is following in his brother's footsteps.
Search for a Star winner Mitchell Hodges who is off to Chicago at the weekend to defend his American title Picture: Michael Lloyd BRML20120626B-005_C
Mitchell flies out to Chicago on Sunday in the hope of retaining his crown as a world champion Irish dancer.
His brother Bobby, 22, is a former lead dancer in the musical Lord of the Dance and is now a member of Prodijig, a dance troupe which creates a unique blend of Irish dancing and modern street moves.
Mitchell, 16, a pupil at St Bernadette RC Secondary School, was runner up in the World Championships in Belfast earlier this year and won the Search for a Star talent contest at the Fry Club, Keynsham, two weeks ago after wowing the judges and the audience.
But Mitchell's success does not come without a lot of hard work.
His mum, June Mitchell, 48, a part-time secretary, takes him to dance lessons after school in Birmingham at least three times a week – a round trip of 200 miles and usually they do not get back home until after 11pm.
In the run up to competitions, he might take lessons and also trains in a shed which his dad, Paul, has converted into a dance studio at the bottom of their garden in Kinsale Road.
Mitchell does not only practise his steps but also does weight training to build up his muscles which help him jump and twizzle in gravity-defying moves that are compelling to watch.
He has just finished taking ten GCSE exams, revising and doing his homework in the back of the car during the trips back and forth to Birmingham.
He said: "The training is hard work but I do enjoy dancing in front of audiences and in competitions.
"I was more nervous about the Search for a Star final than usual because I wasn't used to the floor surface and I was worried about falling over."
Mitchell, a lithe eight and a half stone in weight, even has time to play rugby at school and for a local team called Stockwood Sharks.
He trains on Tuesday nights and plays in matches on Sundays.
He started Irish dancing when he was five years old, inspired by his brothers – not just Bobby, but Jamie, 23, and Ryan, 19, who also danced and won Junior Search for a Star 15 years ago. His younger sister, Ellie, 14, is also a world champion in her own right in Irish figure dancing.
The Irish dancing bug first began in the Hodges family after the elder brothers saw a performance while attending St Bernadette primary school.
They soon joined a dance school and their interest just grew.
Mrs Mitchell said: "I think it has given them all a lot of confidence because of the discipline that comes with Irish dancing.
"I think they've done well because they are so focused on what they are doing.
"It is a big commitment to travel to Birmingham so much but because they have all put so much effort into what they do, then we have been prepared to make the effort for them, too."