A nine-year-old Inishowen dancer known as ‘Paddy Popper’ is to appear on TV next month after filming his very own music video.
Talented Patrick Gill, from Cockhill, is in the final 10 of ‘Pop Up Popstar,’ an RTE show which received entries from over 300 dancers from across the country.
The St Oran’s National School pupil is the only finalist to represent the North West and the only ‘popper,’ a style of dance for which he is becoming renowned.
Patrick is part of Elite Dance Academy, based in Buncrana and his dance teacher Clare McCarron told the Journal how his style of dance is not something everyone can easily do.
She said: “In popping, your body is fluid. It’s like there are no muscles in it. It’s not something everyone can do - some of the world’s best dancers can’t. But it just comes naturally to him.”
Patrick, the son of Jeanette and Patrick Gill, recently travelled to Dublin to film his music video for the show, working alongside renowned choreographer AJ O’Neill.
He told how it was “really exciting” to be a star for the day.
However, he is already a big star in his own right around Inishowen and has been asked to perform at a number of events in his own right, including at the recent sheepdog championships in Burt.
He said he doesn’t get nervous and finds performing “fun and exciting.”
In fact, when Patrick was filling in his application for ‘Pop Up Popstar,’ he was asked why he liked dancing so much. He replied: “The music is in my bones. I don’t know how I do it.”
He has now been dancing for around four years, after being encouraged as a young child by his siblings.
“ I started doing the popping when I realised I was double-jointed,” he said.
“I started watching dancers online too and wondered if I could do the same so I just started. I’m just able to do it and for the audition video I joined popping with breakdancing.”
Jeanette said her son was treated like a “real star” when making his final music video.
She added: “They made him feel very relaxed and the day was all about Patrick. We are so proud of him.”
The concept sees Patrick getting out of bed in the morning before joining a house party. His three cousins from Dublin, Jodie, Ciara and Ryan Doherty joined him in the making of the video. Each of the ten contestants’ videos will be shown on different nights on RTE 2 in September.
He described making the video as “really good craic.”
Unsurprisingly, Patrick holds many dancing accolades, including the Northern Ireland Championships, the All Irelands and the 26 counties championship, in which he was the youngest ever to win the Under 12 title. He is also part of an impressive double team with Katelyn Doherty.
Patrick is one of many winners at the “brilliant” Elite Dance Academy, which trains over 80 children from across Inishowen in a number of dance genres, including hip hop, street dance, popping, Irish Dancing, cheerleading and show dance, among others. A team from the academy will travel to the world hip hop championships in Glasgow in two weeks.
Patrick is quick to sing the academy’s praises and told how he has made many friends there.
Claire said many of her dancers look up to Patrick and try learn ‘popping’ from him.
Along with his parents, she said she was “very proud” of him.
Patrick himself is very modest about his successes but tells how he wants to pursue dancing as a career in the future and hopes to go to dance school.