A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Irish dancing, cooking, and literature, follow me on my new site.

I'm moving. Not physically moving, because we did that in March, and, believe me, I'm not going to want to do that again until the number of kiddos in this house decreases. 

I've decided to streamline my online presence and blog on one site that includes a little cooking, a little reading, a little Irish dancing, and a little rambling. I think it will be fun, and I hope you will like it. 

So, head on over to my main blog at www.christydorrity.com right now and follow me there so that I won't have to lose you! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review and Interview: Heidi Will, author of The Ghillie Girls

Heidi Will is the author and illustrator of The Ghillie Girls: Irish Dance Pals, published in 2008 by Cinealta Press. Will based her book on the experiences she and her friends had in Irish dance. Visit Heidi Will online at www.ghilliegirls.com.

The Ghille Girls introduces four very different girls who have one thing in common: a love for Irish dance. Heidi Will uses these girls to illustrate the terms, and language that is unique to Irish dance. Vocabulary blurbs define the words that are sometimes foreign to the beginning Irish dancer.

Bold and colorful, the illustrations show striking colors reminiscent of the flamboyant solo dresses often worn in competition. The cut-out style of the pictures make me think of paper dolls.

I love the information page in the back that includes vocabulary, basic Irish dance history and directions of where to find an Irish dance school.

We are thrilled to be able to have Heidi Will with us on the blog today. 

Feis America:  What prompted you to write about Irish dance?

Heidi Will:  I initially wrote The Ghillie Girls as a Christmas present for three of my Irish dance friends. Kim (“Addy”) had moved away from Phoenix to New Hampshire, Beki (“Libby”) and I had stopped dancing competitively, and Jacqui (“Keelin”) was the only one left at our old dance school. It seemed that we were drifting apart, and I wanted to do something to bring us together and celebrate the friendship we had developed through Irish dance. It started as The Wig Sisters, which is what we called ourselves. That first version was quite a bit different than the final published version of The Ghillie Girls (I changed the name to make it more specific to Irish dance). I printed copies for everyone and they loved it, and suggested I publish it. I decided to tweak the book to be an introduction to Irish dance in the hopes of exposing more people to this wholesome and enriching art form. I happened to stumble across the Irish dance world in my college years, and still view it as a well-kept secret that needs to be shared!

Feis America:  Your illustrations are unique, how did you design them?

Heidi Will:  Thanks! I considered many different illustration styles and finally chose a simple, modern look. I love color (as one can tell instantly upon entering my home) and so I had fun making the book very bright and colorful. The illustrations translate well into coloring pages, which I use a lot with my own Irish dance students at the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center.

Feis America:  What were the challenges you had in bringing your book to life?

Heidi Will:  I wanted to make the book accessible to non-dancers so I got feedback from several people who knew nothing about Irish dance to be sure that I explained things that dancers take for granted—especially the pronunciation of Irish words. Since every Irish dance school does things a little differently and calls things by different names, I consulted people from different schools and regions to make the book as accurate as possible. It was hard to decide if I should seek a traditional publisher for my book, or attempt to self-publish. I finally chose the self-publishing route, because it allowed me to have complete control over the final product. As a graphic designer, I enjoyed every aspect of the process—writing, illustration, and layout design.


Feis America:  Do you have future plans for the Ghillie Girls?

Heidi Will:  I have more books in mind, if I can make the time to write them. I would love to write about the adventures we had while competing in Irish dance. We had so much fun traveling together; going to Oireachtas, taking road trips, visiting friends across the country while “feising.” I would also like to explore the struggles we had, competing against each other. Sometimes it really strained our friendship, but in the end, I value our friendship and the memories we made so much more than any medal I won. That is what I want to communicate to young Irish dancers: to appreciate what is really important, and not to get hung up on winning.

Feis America:  Can you share anything with us from what you are currently working on?

Heidi Will:  The book that has taken the most shape in my mind tells the story of how the Ghillie Girls meet and become the Ghillie Girls. It is longer, with more words and fewer illustrations. I’m also working on a coloring and activity book.

Feis America:  Thank you for sharing the inside scoop with us. We look forward to reading more about the Ghillie Girls.

To find out more information, purchase The Ghillie Girls, and print off free coloring pages, visit www.ghilliegirls.com.


Readers: Are you an adult Irish dancer, competitive or not, with a story to share? Would you like to inspire others to feel your passion for Irish dancing and culture? Do you have a question about Irish dancing? Please comment in the box below for replies and contact information!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Renowned Irish dance camp welcomes young adult Irish dancers

Camp Rince Ceol Irish dance camp
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren

For thirteen years, Camp Rince Ceol has been known as the camp “where Irish dancers spend their summers.” Now, young adults, ages 19-24, have a chance to experience the highly acclaimed Irish dance camp.

Camp Rince Ceol is a summer camp for Irish dancers who want to increase their knowledge of all things Irish dance. Sheila Ryan-Davoren, TCRG began the camp with her husband, Tony Davoren, after they both toured with Riverdance in the Lee Company. Together, they formed a camp that combines an intense study of the sport of Irish dancing with a fun summer camp experience. Sheila says, “I wanted to incorporate summer-time feeling with classroom instruction.”
Campers take a break from classes
at Camp Rince Ceol
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren
After receiving many requests to allow older dancers to attend camp, Sheila and Tony decided to invite dancers ages 19-24 to attend Camp Rince Ceol. During the third session of camp in New York, young adults will come together to increase their learning of Irish dance and culture.

Young adult dancers receive all of the benefits of their younger counterparts: a full curriculum of core classes, bonus classes, amazing meals, clean rooms (no tents here), night-time activities, and an opportunity to showcase what they have learned. In addition to the regular privileges, young adults get a few extra perks.  They are allowed the use of cell phones, have access to a Wi-Fi network during camp, and are treated to an off-campus dinner with instructors.

Sheila wants Irish dancers to have a great experience socializing, having fun and sharing the love of Irish dance. Sheila says, “Camp is fun, but we are there for a reason—the kids work hard. “
Camp Rince Ceol campers "hand dancing"
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren
What you should know about Camp Rince Ceol:

All of the Irish dance instructors at Camp Rince Ceol are former touring group members from such shows as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. A list of instructors can be found on the Camp Rince Ceol website.

Camp Rince Ceol is open to campers ages 8-24.

In addition to core Irish dancing classes, other classes include language, sports (hurling, rugby), show steps, behind the scenes, ballet, yoga, foot care, rhythm and timing, footwork, stage presence, and Irish dance and music history.

Camp Rince Ceol has been approved by An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha as an "Open Workshop" for 2012 and therefore is exempt from any association/affiliation rules.

There are two locations:  Dunn School, Los Olivos, California and Union College in Schenectady, New York.

Young adults are invited to attend Camp Rince Ceol in New York during the week of July 29th-August 3rd.

Camp Rince Ceol