A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why You Should Teach Me to Dance

Molly Bennett and adult dancers from the Bennett School of Irish Dance
This article was first published in the March/April 2011 issue of Feis America Magazine.

Teachers of Irish dance across the country are asking themselves: Should I teach adults? An increasing amount of teachers are adding adult classes to their curriculum as adults trickle into the growing tide of Irish dancers. Molly Bennett, of the Bennett School of Irish Dance in Denver, Colorado, teaches a large group of adults. "Adults love what they are doing and reinvigorate the Irish image," she says, "We should be doing more teaching aimed at anyone who wants to dance."

Molly Bennett and the Bennett School's adult team

Molly encourages other TCRG’s to take the time to teach adults and realize the benefits adult dancers will bring to their schools. Adult dancers are consistent and enduring, they contribute much-needed funds to their studios, and provide valuable volunteer work that benefits the entire Irish dance community.

When adults pick up a love for Irish dancing, they stick with it. Long after the junior champs have left their school to pursue other interests, adult dancers are found stomping the studio floor. Molly understands the stability that adults bring to a dance school, "Adults will decide if they like an activity, and if they do like it they will continue to come consistently; even through snowstorms!"

Bennett School adults

When adults get involved in dancing, they bring along friends, family and their children; resulting in monetary support not only for their schools, but the Irish dance community as a whole. While there are plenty of younger dancers, the adults (dancing and non) are the ones funding the lessons, costumes, and feis fees. In a declining economy, the adult members of a school can give security. Molly says, “If there is anxiety over the declining numbers of students in our schools and at our feiseanna, we should be opening our doors to any and all who are interested.”

Dance schools require hours of behind-the-scenes work, and adult dancers are found chipping in whenever help is needed. Because of their dedication, senior dancers often act as go-to helpers for their teachers. They can be found making posters, heading up fundraisers, scheduling shows, making costumes, providing food, donating funds, and cheering dance-mates of all ages. Adult dancers encourage an atmosphere of family and belonging at their schools.

As more adults ride the wave that is Irish dance, their contributions of time, money and stability are getting noticed. An increasing number of schools are offering adult classes in their curriculum. Your school can join in the benefits that adult dancers offer. Encourage your TCRG to offer adult classes. And if you are a teacher, open your doors to what adult dancers have to offer, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I'm not an Irish dancer (my daughters are), but I'm taking Flamenco which I always wanted to learn. There's no age for learning. Maybe one day, I'll join my daughters and get me a pair of ghillies ;-)

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  2. Flamenco? That is so great. I learned a tiny bit of flamenco in college (just one day) but it was fun. Irish dance as an adult is way too much fun!

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  3. Kids come and go, but most of my adults have been with me seven years. In fact, at the moment, Triallta Irish Dance Company is only teens and adults.

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    1. That's amazing. Most schools are the opposite-tons of kids and few adults. I'd love to spotlight Triallta. Email me if you are interested! Christy at dorrity dot net.

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  4. Thanks for posting this, Christy! It's so great to see that there ARE other adult dancers out there. I'm the only adult dancer in my school (besides one champion who's probably been dancing since she was 4)--and it's great to read your posts about dancing in a feis as an adult beginner; I can totally relate.

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    1. It can be overwhelming to start Irish dance as an adult. It's nice to know there's others out there paving the way also! Thanks for the comment.

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