A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Friday, July 22, 2011

IrishCentral: Bounce Back! 3 Strategies for Returning to Irish Dance After an Injury

A future Irish dancer helps mommy apply ice to a muscle strain.

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

Injuries are part of an adult dancer's life. Your body is growing older, your schedules doesn't always allow for regular practice, and as a result, you find yourselves on the sidelines with a strained muscle or broken ankle. So how do you make sure that you are back on your feet as quickly as possible? Here are a few guidelines to follow:

1. Follow all of your doctors instructions. Use all prescribed medications and support products that will help speed recovery. Don't begin dancing until your doctor gives you the go ahead--even if you feel fine. 

2. Use the down time for strength training and mental conditioning.  Stretch uninjured muscles, take a walk (doctor permitting) and research new techniques. Put on some of your favorite practice music and visualize yourself dancing a perfect step. Keep your body and mind sharp and you won't even miss a beat. 

3. Take it slow. When you go back to dance class, listen to your body. If your injury starts to feel painful or strained, lower your intensity level or sit it out and observe the lesson.

If you follow your doctors instructions, use the down time for conditioning, and take it easy coming back to dance, you will be back on your feet in no time. 

What are your experiences with injuries as a dancer?  Did it take you long to get back in the jig of things or did you have setbacks?

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

IrishCentral: Irish Dance Teacher's Association of North America votes to allow slow speeds for adults

Photo by Shawn Riley
This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

During a July 1, 2011 meeting of the Irish Dance Teacher's Association of North America held before the North American Irish Dance Championships, the TCRGs in attendance voted to allow adults the option of dancing hard shoe slow speeds effective January 1, 2012.  Adult dancers will have a choice between traditional or slow speed hard shoe dances in the Novice and Prizewinner levels. The North American Feis Commission (NAFC) will vote on the ruling in October. 

Slow speed and traditional speed are terms used to describe the tempo and often the difficulty level of competitive Irish dancing. Slow speed refers to the slower tempo of the music and allows the dancer to move quicker. Traditional speed has a faster tempo and limits how many steps can be danced to the quicker beat.

Ten years ago the Irish Dance Teacher's Association of America (IDTANA) banned slow hard shoe dances for adult Irish dancers. In May of 2009 it was decided that slow speed specials for adults were in violation of the An Com ruling that there should be no championship levels for adult dancers and the slow speed specials were also banned.

Adult dancers around the country rejoiced in July with the news that they would be able to compete with the slow speed dances that, until the July 1st ruling, have only been danced in practice.

On the dance.net adult Irish dance forum, ‘Dinkletoes’ comments, “WOO-HOO!!! Now I can actually USE the dances I've been learning with the kids, instead of having to have "advanced" fast dances. *does her slow hornpipe in happiness*”

Adult dancers will continue to dance only traditional sets in competition, but many feel that this a giant step forward for adults who want to push the their dancing to a new level but aren’t ready to drop down into the “&over” levels (an option in which adults can compete against their younger counterparts and strive for championship level).

RinceorNosretep’ comments, “It's also great news for us adults that DO care about championships but are just now getting into the game of competition and aren't quite ready to go up against 12 to 15-year olds in novice/prizewinner.” 

Molly Bennett, TCRG from the Bennett School of Irish Dance is excited for her adult dancers.  Molly says, “We hope that being able to offer a choice of speeds again will motivate more adults to compete as adults, boosting the numbers in solo events and making it easier to form teams.”

What is your reaction to the new ruling?  Will you be dusting off your slow speeds for competition?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Irish Central: Sneaky Steppers Dance Their Way Around the World

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

If you love Irish dance, you've probably heard of the Sneaky Steppers.  If you haven't, you are in for a real treat.   Over twenty innovative Irish dancers who tour the world as professional dancers have pooled their talents and creativity together.  The results:  sneaky stepping and Hammerstep, an eclectic blend of hiphop, tap and Irish dance.

Jason Oremus and Chris Naish, both members of Sneaky Steppers, agreed to answer some questions I had about their projects and what it's like to be an adult, male, Irish dancer.
Check out the Sneaky Steppers on 
facebook and  YouTube.

What is the mission of Sneaky Steppers and Hammerstep?

The basic mission of Sneaky Steppers is to ambush the public through dance. We provide fun-loving, free entertainment for the public to enjoy, drawing from a variety of popular activities, essentially ambushing the public through dance. Hammerstep, however, is a stage concept that attempts to integrate Irish, Hip Hop and Tap dancing, highlighting similarities in the way they were developed, and how they responded to social and cultural issues at the time.

Chris Naish and Jason Oremus teaching an outreach program in  South Africa
Are the sneak attacks spontaneous? 

Yes, the onlookers don't have a clue what is going on, which is what makes it so much fun and even more of an adrenaline rush for us. They often look confused and shocked at what they are witnessing. Some people even look scared of us, but believe me that is not part of the Sneaky Steppers mission :p

How is the project funded?

The project has been funded entirely by ourselves so far .. We are accepting any donations! ;)

How did so many talented male dancers come together?

All the guys in our videos are professional dancers and have all been brought together through dance shows or other dancing projects. Some of us have known each other from when we used to be on the ID competitive circuit. It really is a small world when you think about how many professional Irish Dancers there are. We are now meeting all sorts of dancers with these new projects though so it's really intriguing who we will be meeting in the near future.

 Chris and Jason at the Lincoln Center collaborative performance in May 2011 with Grammy Nominees Dave Eggar & Chuck Palmer

Do you have any advice for my sons, ages 11 and 8, who Irish dance?

Stick with it. It has paid off for us time and time again. You can travel the world, make money and meet all kinds of exciting people. Irish dancing can open doors for you where you never thought possible. Also, dance like a man- with strength and confidence. That's really important.

If you happen to see some random Irish dancers pounding it out on a sidewalk near you, take the time to stop and tell Chris and Jason hello.  Better yet, join in! 

I'm looking for adult Irish dancers who are going above and beyond--dancing professionally, heading up special programs, teaching with innovative ideas, participating in community events, etc.  If you or someone you know is doing an exceptional job as an adult Irish dancer, please contact me christy at dorrity dot net. 

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Friday, July 8, 2011

IrishCentral: Celtic Leather Bracelets, a gift for all Irish Dancers

When my son began Irish dancing, I noticed that the parents of the girls in Irish were given flowers or other gifts at performances and feiseanna. I didn't know what to give my son as the gifts seemed "girly".  My son's dance teacher suggested that I look into a leather bracelet to show my son how proud I am of him.

Leather bracelets are a unique gift idea for both boys and girls. If you are looking for a unique way to appreciate how well your daughter did at Nationals, how brave he was in a performance, or reward her for finally leveling up that stubborn dance, consider a leather bracelet.

Celtic leather bracelets are a stunning and original gift that both boys and girls will treasure.

For North America's favorite Irish dancing magazine delivered directly to your mailbox, subscribe now!

Friday, July 1, 2011

IrishCentral: Megan Moloney--Carrying on a Dancing Tradition in Maryland

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

When I talk to other adult Irish dancers, I often find that they feel isolated. While you may be the only adult dancer in your area, there are thousands more who lace up their hard shoes and pound the floor with seasoned feet. Watch for more spotlights each month.
Seasoned Spotlight
Megan Moloney

Megan Moloney, TMRF, Culkin School of Irish Dance
I began Irish dance when I was 27, having grown up in Lexington, Kentucky, where, at the time, there were no Irish dance instructors.  My first teacher with the Culkin School was Caterina Earle, TCRG, who had started dancing as an adult with one of the D.C. area's most well known instructors, Peggy O'Neill.  Caterina really started the push for our adults to compete in local figures competitions and our first few regional Oireachtas competitions.  In 1999, I competed at my first Oireachtas as an adult and our mixed four-hand team placed 1st at the Southern Region Oireachtas in Baltimore, Maryland. 
When the rules regarding adult dancing (in particular the "slow speed" ruling") changed, I was given the chance to "drop down" to the regular grade level competitions as a prizewinner.  I qualified shortly after for Preliminary Championships and competed at the Southern Region Oireachtas in 2006, where I qualified for the North American Irish Dance Championships in Ottawa, Canada in 2007.  That year I not only danced at the NAIDCs as a soloist, but the Culkin Adult ladies team, who I had worked closely with, placed 3rd.
After the 2007 NAIDCs, I began a Master's degree program at Johns Hopkins University and my own dance career was put on hold for two years. Two days after graduating from JHU, as I was preparing to return to solo competition, I broke my foot in dance class (a Jones' fracture).  While I had planned on beginning preparations for my TCRG that summer and fall, the fracture took more than 6 months to recover from and so I registered for the TMRF exam instead.  I took the TMRF in Boston in September 2010 and found out this past December that I had passed the exam.
I currently serve as the primary instructor for the Culkin School's adult figure (team) classes, and as a choreographer have created original works that have been included in performances at the Kennedy Center and throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

If you are an adult Irish dancer (any level or age) and would like to be spotlighted, please send an email to christy at dorrity dot net. 

For North America's favorite Irish dancing magazine delivered directly to your mailbox, subscribe now!

Blogging for IrishCentral.com

Feis America Magazine and IrishCentral.com are merging to bring the best of Irish dance information to the Irish-American community.

I am excited to be a blogger for the adult Irish dancers.  Each month I will be highlighting adult dancers, professionals, health issues and new products.

My first blog post went up yesterday, and although they don't have my picture and bio up yet, it's still fun.  Check it out: