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Dancing on the Beat and Off the Beaten Path

By Melanie Zhang | July 21, 2022

At school and in the Montgomery community, Catherine Gonzalez is known for Irish dance first and foremost. “I do it so much,” she says. “When you put yourself out there and you do [something] constantly, that’s what you become.”

Catherine Gonzalez

Gonzalez began Irish dance at the Lynn Academy of Irish Dance in Hillsborough in 2011, after watching a recital. “It looked cool,” she recalls. However, she says, she quickly discovered she wasn’t particularly good at it. “I’m not that good at dancing,” she says. “I’m still not that good at dancing.” What she lacked in talent she says she made up for with her passion and initiative.

She choreographed dances outside of class to music she was learning for violin in the Montgomery High School Orchestra. Unfortunately, her efforts sometimes failed to translate into competitive success, and she says she struggled to progress through the regimented levels. Much of Gonzalez’s experience with Irish dance was “off the beaten path and quietly defiant,” she jokes. Still, she says she loves choreography, and enjoys the more rhythmic, hard-shoe dances.

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During the pandemic, Gonzalez competed less than she used to, and attended classes over Zoom instead of in-person, making her dancing more independent than ever. Gonzalez possesses a multitude of interests, such as the MHS Mock Trial team in which she has served as a captain and attorney, a witness, and the team administrator. She says her experiences in Irish dance gave her persistence, which she was able to apply to these roles. In addition, she loves to “play the piano and obsess over books, book-to-screen adaptations, book characters, and go on walks.” Spending time with her younger sister, Clare, also ranks high on her list of favorite things.

This fall, Gonzalez will be majoring in English Secondary Education at The College of New Jersey. She intends to become an English teacher. While she will no longer be going to dance class, she says she “definitely still [wants] to dance.”

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