A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Irish dance-Only for the Kids?

So I am trying to research the history of adults in Irish dance.  What I am finding is a startling lack of information.  Any literature I try to get my hands on is no longer in print or just plain hard to get a hold of.   I’ve gone online and asked around to see what other ID’ers know about adults in Irish history, and the results are conflicting.  Some people say that Irish dance has always been for the kids and only recently have the adults come out of the woodwork.  Others have mentioned that up until the advent of competition and the advantage of beginning at a young age, Irish dancing had been a cultural pursuit mainly for adults.  Most do agree that the latest batch of adult enthusiasts appears to stem from the Riverdance craze that began in 1994.

You may wonder why I even care about how adults danced in the past.  The answer is simple:  we can learn how to bring about positive change in the future by examining the past.

I have only been Irish dancing for a few years, and I would like to know where the journey could take me.  I know what I want to accomplish in the next few months, or even a year or two down the road.  But I am a dreamer.  I want to know what is possible.  Can a dancer compete at the World Championships as an adult?  Does that mean she will have to compete against her teenage daughter to do so?  Could adults eventually have their own categories?  Performance such as Lord of the Dance, will they consider adults?  Is it possible for adults to brainstorm and find new outlets for their love of dancing?

If the world is a stage, I don’t want to be in the audience.  Having a few more birthdays won’t hold me back from pursuing what I am passionate about.  My question is not simply what can I as an adult Irish dancer do, but what I can become?


  1. There are a lot of Dancers that started as adults and went to the Worlds... take a familiar pair- Jim and Lauren Mueller... the met at dance class and their courtship was during their carpool. They both started Waaaaaaaaay after the "ideal" time, when they were adults.

    And, yes, you will be competing against 15 year olds or younger. But if you are secure enough in the dream, it doesn't matter.

    The wigs don't hurt either. I have a student who competed in her mid-thirties in the &overs, and most people thought she was 18.

    Dream, dream dream!!!!

  2. Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

  3. Thank you very much, Dirnov.

  4. That is very encouraging Irishdanceteacher. We are only limited to what we can imagine for ourselves, and in the progressive times we live in, our imaginings can become reality.

  5. That's pretty encouraging about Jim and Lauren - I sort of thought maybe I was just crazy to try dancing in my thirties - especially when I didnt' have any previous experience. The beauty of it is, if you're willing to practice and have some passion in your blood for something, it doesn't have to matter what others think. You're living a dream for YOU and I'm so happy that there are others like me who are doing adult Irish dancing because they love it. For me it's also a tie to my heritage. ( I'm saving up my $ to return to Ireland because I promised myself when I was 13 that I would. Dancing and learning the Irish language (slowly!) have just fueled that dream. ) Thanks again Christy for the great topics!

  6. just right about the wigs. I'm late 30's and last time when I was competing I was chatting with my daughter with someone else who laughed about something their daughter was doing and said to me don't rush into having children- she nearly died when I told her I was standing next to mine!!


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