Meet the Team
Stephen Scariff, ADCRG
Stephen’s repertoire in dance is both impressive and extensive.
Following training at the O’Flaherty Academy of Irish Dance in Galway, Stephen’s progression in dance began. Competing both nationally in his native Ireland and internationally Stephens undoubted natural ability in the art of dance secured him many championship titles.
Taking his flair for Irish dance a step further, he pursued his ambition to make his passion his profession.
In 1998, Stephen was approached to dance in the internationally famous, highly acclaimed dance show, produced and directed by Michael Flatley. It was from this point on that his love affair with performing began.
Stephen has toured far and wide across the globe. He has been granted the privilege to entertain royalty of various nations, at a host of prestigious venues worldwide.
Originally cast as a chorus line dancer it wasn’t long before his capabilities were soon recognized and he was asked to perform the principal role of ‘the good lord’,which furthered his opportunity to develop his artistic disposition.
Stephen also performed in a theatrical production namely, ‘Dancing on Dangerous Grounds’. The focus of which was based on the art form of Irish Dance. This production was bound for success from the beginning as it secured twelve weeks in London’s Westends largest theatre (Theatre Drury Lane) before moving across the Atlantic to sell out fourteen shows in New York’s prestigious Radio City Music Hall.
In November of 2002, Stephen left the stage production Lord of the Dance to co-create and co-choreograph the hugely popular Irish Dance show namely Irish Dance invasion. Invasion sold out it’s first eleven shows in Budapest Hungary in just twenty minutes breaking all previous box office records.
In 2003 while performing in his own Co production Irish Dance Invasion, Stephen decided to establish a dancing school in Vienna Austria.
Word spread quicker than time past and it wasn’t long before Stephen was invited to open branches of the Stephen Scariff School in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
In 2007 Stephen moved to Tampa, Florida and established the Stephen Scariff School of Irish Dance.
The school was very successful in the following years, with dancers winning in both solo and ceili championships at Oireachtas level and top five placers at the North American Championships.
The school is now home to more than three hundred dancers in the states of Florida and Utah and enjoys great success with Regional Champions in both the Western and the Southern Regions.
Naomi Smith, TCRG
Naomi began her dancing career under the direction of Maureen McTeggart Hall, ADCRG at the age of 5. She also trained under the direction of the late seven-time All Ireland Champion, Adrian Murphy, before he went on to create his shows Celtic Dance Force, Feet of Fire, and DanceFire in New Zealand and Australia. Joining the Scariff School in 2012, as a top level competitive soloist and team dancer, she qualified and competed several times at the Western U.S. Regional Championships, North American Championships, and World Championships. In 2016, she captained the first choreography team to represent Utah at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Enjoying the culture and tradition of Irish Dance for 26 years, she performed on hundreds of stages across the United States and internationally.
She began assistant teaching at the age of 12 with Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers, a performance-centered group. The group was founded by her mother, Connie Murphy Roberts – a trustee of the Hibernian Society of Utah, in 1996.
At the age of 15, along with her siblings, Naomi founded the prize-winning Crinna Hill Irish Dancers and Band. They performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, with the Trinity Irish Dancers of Chicago, with the Eileen Ivers Band featuring Tarik Winston, with Ballet Utah, and for corporate and private events with a tour in Ireland.
As a musician she shared the stage and worked with several local and well known leading artists from across the nation. Naomi composed music and lyrics for her band, and as vocalist and keyboardist went on to create a full length album “Worlds of Ice”, before signing a recording contract with River Ranch Records in 2005.
In addition to Irish Dancing, she was classically trained in Ballet with the reputable Jacqueline School of Ballet performing in multiple casts at BYU and UVU including her favorites “The Nutcracker”, “La Coquette” and “Hansel and Gretel”. She also studied with Encore Dance Academy learning Jazz, Lyrical and Tap.
Naomi is High Fitness certified, owns a design and studio arts business, and is currently pursuing a degree in Marketing from Brigham Young University. She and her husband, are proud parents of two champion Irish Dancers who have competed with the Scariff School for the past 9 years. Dallen-13, is currently ranked 2nd in the Western US Region, 10th in North America, and has qualified for the World Championships for the past four years. Rorey-9, placed 1st in the Western US Region, and is currently ranked 11th in North America.
With over two and a half decades of history with the Irish community in Utah, Naomi brings a refined experience and competence in both the performing arts and the world of competitive Irish Dance to the Scariff School. Naomi certified in Ireland in 2018, and is a registered teacher with An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha.
Mia Leonelli, TCRG
Mia is very excited to join the Scariff team. As a Utah native she's happy to back in her home state sharing her passion. She danced professionally with Riverdance completing two USA/Canada tours and a residency in Dublin before moving back to Utah to further her education. Mia is currently pursuing a master's degree in Accounting at the University of Utah.
Mia began dancing in 1999 with the Bracken School in Arizona. In 2003 her family relocated to California and she joined the Claddagh School of Irish Dancing under the direction of Maire O'Connell. Mia danced with the Claddagh school for 14 years, in that time she won two regional solo titles (2009, 2013) placed in the top three at the North American Nationals and in 2015 placed top 10 at the World Irish Dancing Championships. In addition to her success as a solo dancer she competed on teams that won countless regional, national and international titles.
Mia also excelled academically. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2015 with a B.A. in History. Mia then went on to tour with Riverdance from 2015-2017.
Following her last tour with Riverdance Mia relocated to Utah with ambitions of attending graduate school. She joined the Scariff School of Irish Dance as a pupil and assistant teacher. In 2018 her 4-hand team became the first Utah based dance team to win a regional title. In 2019 she recaptured the Western US regional solo title, marking the end of her competitive career. Mia successfully passed the T.C.R.G exam in December 2019 and has been an active member of the teaching staff since.