The young dancers were unsteady on their feet as they took the stage.
Their legs were a bit shaky, their timing imperfect. They did not hit every cue or stand directly on every spot. Their rendition of an Irish step dance routine from “Lord of the Dance” was not technically exquisite.
But when it was over, a crowd of hundreds in the John Hancock Hall gave the girls a standing ovation.
The group of 6- and 7-year-old girls are from the Clifden Academy in Milton, and they were there to honor their classmate, Jane Richard, who was injured last week in the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line. Young Irish step dance groups from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island came together Saturday night for a benefit show for the Richard family.
Jane, 7, was standing near the finish line cheering on runners when the first bomb went off. Her 8-year-old brother, Martin, was killed by the blast and her mother, Denise, was seriously injured. Jane suffered severe leg injuries.
Eileen Dinn, the owner of Clifden Academy, said Jane has attended her dance school since she was 4 years old.
“She loves dance,” Dinn said. “You always see her running around with her Clifden jacket, her little uniform on.”
Dinn said she does not know the extent of Jane’s injuries or if she will be able to dance again.
“We’re hoping she’ll he able to, but we just don’t know,” Dinn said.
She said the event was helpful for Jane’s classmates in getting through a difficult time.
“They’re really excited to be here for Jane,” Dinn said.
The organizers of the event, Dance Out for Jane, said they had not been in touch with the Richard family, of Dorchester, but Dinn said they planned to videotape the show so Jane can watch.
It all began as a Facebook event, created by a couple of college students with visions of a street performance.
“We’ll get a permit and go down to Government Center and raise like $500 or something,” Catherine Ternes, a Northeastern student and co-organizer, said of her initial aspirations.
In less than two weeks, the scope of the event had grown. The Back Bay Events Center donated a hall that can seat 1,080 people. The organizers sold it out. Through ticket sales and an online auction supported by donations of everything from plane tickets to a week at a dance camp, they raised more than $30,000.
All proceeds will go to the Richard family, said another organizer and Northeastern student, Joe Harrison.
“We wanted to help in some way and dance is something that’s going to bring everyone together, cheer us up a bit, and make us feel useful,” said Harrison.
Ternes said the fund-raiser grew out of the tight-knit Irish step dance community in New England. Both she and Harrison were dancers as children, and Jane’s story deeply affected them.
“She had just started so it really hit home for us,” Ternes said.
The event drew people from across the Commonwealth. Kathleen Curran-Barcomb and Butch Barcomb traveled to Boston from Springfield to see the dancers and to support the Richard family.
“I think the family needs that support both morally and financially,” Curran-Barcomb said.
Mark Iantosca of Lynnfield said the gathering showed the strength of the step-dance community. Most people in the audience don’t know the Richards but came out anyway, he said.
“It’s both amazing and heartwarming,” he said.
Butch Barcomb said the event was yet another testament of a community uniting in the wake of tragedy.
“There are a lot of helping hands coming together,” he said.