A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IrishCentral: Adult-friendly Irish dance feiseanna in November

Adult Irish dancers from Hopping Mad Scoil Rince na h√Čireannin Brighton, UK practice for a feis.

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

Many feiseanna offer competitions for adult Irish dancers.  Here's a quick glance at the adult-friendly feiseanna in November. Plan on supporting a feis in your area that includes adult Irish dancers.

*source: www.feisworx.com 

Key: FF-first feis B-beginner, N-novice, PW-prize winner, O-open championship

WCR Oireachtas Mini-Feis 2011
Edmonton, AB - Nov 4, 2011 to Nov 6, 2011
Western Canadian Irish Dance Teachers Association

B, N, PW
4 soft shoes
2 hard shoes, traditional speed
traditional set
2,3,6 hand figures
specials: treble reel

Colorado Fall Feis 2011
Loveland, CO - Nov 6, 2011
McTeggart Irish Stepdancers of Colorado

B, N, PW
4 soft shoes
2 hard shoes, traditional speed
traditional set
2,3,4,6,8 hand reel, 2 hand jig

Reasons to end an Irish dance haitus

Learning the language of Irish dance - definitions, terms and steps

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Irish dance track - program for continuing Irish dance education


Fort Smith, AR – Nov 12, 2011
McCafferty School of Irish Dance

B, Adv B/N, O
4 soft shoes
2 hard shoes, traditional speed
traditional set
2,3,4,8 hand, parent/child
specials: treble reel

Celtic Rose Feis 2011
Peachtree City, GA - Nov 20, 2011
Drake School of Irish Dance

B, N, O
4 soft shoes
2 hard shoes, traditional speed
traditional set
parent/child 2, 3 hand

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

IrishCentral: Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Irish Dance Track offers program for continuing Irish dance education

At Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, students have an opportunity to pursue Irish dancing in their college education.  The Irish dance program, headed by Kathleen M. Flanagan, Ph. D., is part of the dance minor offered in the school’s theater and dance department.  Any student can take individual classes, or pursue career in Irish dancing.

            Flanagan, who is also a certified Irish dance teacher (T.C.R.G), suggested to the department that they include a few courses in Irish dance. “The intention was to provide an opportunity for Irish dancers who wanted to continue Irish dance while at university,” Flanagan says. “Our goal was to offer a comprehensive look at Irish dance using the requirements of the T.C.R.G. exam.”

Kathleen Flanagan, Ph.D., T.C.R.G

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

            Originally from the Chicago area, Flanagan took dance from legendary teacher Pat Roche and obtained her T.C.R.G in 1976.  When she moved to Minnesota she decided to continue teaching in order to foster an appreciation for Irish dance and culture. “I always say that I have been doing ‘evangelization work’ in southern Minnesota," Flanagan says.

            Students who wish to continue their Irish dance education can find what they are looking for at Saint Mary’s University.  The dance department offers 3 ceili classes, two courses on Irish dance pedagogy, and classes on traditional and contemporary sets and music.  Students are encouraged to take other courses offered in the dance minor, including dance history, composition, anatomy & kinesiology, and nutrition.

            To date, three students are involved in the “irish track”, and there are more than 25 others who have entered the program because they want to stay involved with Irish dance and may consider teaching in the future.  Flanagan notes,  “Even though we have not had a tremendous response in terms of enrollment numbers, we plan to keep the program in place, at least for the next several years.”

The Irish dance program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota gives dancers a chance to continue their Irish dance education. Students who complete the program will be fully prepared to take the Irish dance teacher examination (T.C.R.G. exam). 

For more information, go to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota's website

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

IrishCentral: Foot care tips and tricks keep Irish dancers on their toes.

Foot Care keeps Irish dancers on their toes
photo by VinothChandar

To dancers, feet are like a prized car that must be cared for, protected and maintained to keep their usefulness and get them where they want to go. For adult Irish dancers whose feet have pounded the ground more than the younger set, foot care is critical. Take the time to prevent foot problems and learn how to care for such setbacks as blisters, and ingrown toenails. 

Most foot skin problems can be avoided simply by correct shoe sizing. Too loose and your skin will slip and rub against the shoe, too tight and you may cause bunions and other bone problems. For Irish dancers that means making sure that both hard shoes and ghillies or reel shoes are snug but not pinching.

Many adult Irish dancers have told me that they couldn't dance without their favorite foot care products. Below are some suggestions for happy, healthy dancing feet. 

Toe Tape help protect Irish dance feet.
Photo from AllAboutDance
  • Bandaids and medical tape can be used on parts of the foot that get a lot of friction.  Wrap the affected area before problems start and the tape or bandaid will take the abuse--not your skin.
  • Anti-Chafing creams and sticks help lubricate areas that are prone to blister.  One such product is a FootGlide Foot formula made by BodyGlide. One dancer claims that deodorant works just as well, but I have never tried it.  Let me know if this has worked for you. 
  • Toe Tape is another product that prevents blisters and chaffing. Check out these cute Smiley Toes Tape.
  • Moleskin is helpful for sore spots and blisters that have already formed.  Simply cut the moleskin to fit and cover the sensitive spot and keep dancing. 
  • Polymer toe caps like Bunheads Pinky Pads cover and protect sore toes (and fingers too). 
  • Cushions for the feet come in a wide variety and help protect the sensitive bottom of the foot.  Dr. Jill's has a Gel cushion that sticks to and helps pad the ball of your foot.  
  • Toe separaters are placed between the toes to prevent and care for painful bunions, corns and ingrown toenails. 
  • Blister Booties reduce blisters in
    Irish dance hard shoes
    photo from Rutherford Shoes
  • When shoes are new they can cause painful rubbing on the ankles, especially those stiff hard shoes.  Blister booties are worn around the ankle and foot, providing protection and relief.

What are your favorite products and foot care tips that keep you dancing and give you the most mileage out of your feet?

Read more:
Bounce Back! 3 Strategies for Returning to Irish Dance After an Injury
Stretch your feet--improve your dancing
Neck Stretches for Irish dancers-health tips and warm ups

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jig the movie just in time for Oireachtas

Jig the Irish dance movie

Last week I received my copy of Jig, the Irish dance documentary about the 40th World Irish Dance Championships.  I put it on in my van as I drove a group of Irish dancers to dance lessons about 40 minutes away.  

I never knew that a documentary could be so captivating, but you should have seen the looks on the kids' faces.  They were glued to the screen and let out small exclamations every few minutes as to the amazing dancers in the movie. 

One of the dancers featured in the movie used to spend 7 hours at a time practicing in his kitchen.  My car full of dancers were awed by this.  We talked about it for awhile and came up with the idea that if a dancer whose goal is to win Worlds practices 7 hours a day, couldn't a dancer with a smaller goal, say getting on the podium in prelims at a local feis would benefit from practicing even a half an hour per day?

And that's what it takes isn't it?  Especially when an event such as Oireachtas approaches, even a little bit of determination and practice goes a long way. 
What are your goals?  Are you setting benchmarks for yourself to acheive those goals?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

IrishCentra: Adult Irish dancer from Murray Irish Dance Academy

Kim Carney, adult Irish dancer

"No one else was making me dance, it was my choice. And my responsibility." -Kim Carney

Today I am pleased to introduce Kim Carney, an adult Irish dancer who began dancing at age 22. Kim danced at the World Irish Dance Championships 2010 in Glasgow, and 2011 Dublin, and qualified for Belfast 2012. Before retiring, Kim placed 22nd at Nationals this year, qualifying for Worlds 2012.  Kim dances with Anne Murray MacRitchie at Murray Irish Dance Academy. 

Kim talks today about what inspired her to begin Irish dance as an adult, what influenced her decision to retire and gives advice to other adult Irish dancers. 

When did you first start Irish dancing?

I started dancing at 22 years old. I had always wanted to try it. However it was an expensive hobby and I was one of five children so I was unable to participate as a child.
When I graduated from college and got my first job at 22, I
thought it would be fun to try.

What inspired you to begin Irish dancing as an adult?

I knew that when I moved I wanted to continue
to dance. I sent an email out to several schools in the area. I
had several teachers who either did not respond or responded by telling me I was too old to transfer. At this time I knew I was not ready to stop and wanted to see what I could accomplish. I was lucky enough to have Anne Murray MacRitchie respond to my email. I stared to dance for Murray
in 2007.
Kim Carney, adult Irish dancer
I have been told that you qualified and attended Worlds as an adult dancer.  What qualities do you have that gave you the extra push to get so far?

Hmmm, this makes me feel self conscious. :)
But if I had to name a few it would be...

Perseverance. Dancing is just harder as you get older. Adult dancers have more responsibilities. The last few years I have been working
as a nurse full time and going to graduate school. Dance served as my stress relief and was the best part of that busy time.

I also wanted to push myself as far as I could. No one else was making me dance, it was my choice. And my responsibility.
If Anne was going to take the time to teach me, I was going to take that seriously.

Passion. I love the music, I love the rhythm. I love the dance. I truly enjoy the performing aspect of the dance. When it is your passion, it does not
seem like work.

I am very proud of myself but I owe alot of my success to my teacher Anne, and our workshop teachers, all who worked with me regardless of my age.
Kim Carney at the World Irish Dancing Championship 2011
What did you learn about yourself when you competed at Worlds?

That hard work really does pay off. My second worlds, 2011, though I did not recall, I did get a rank, 63rd, and was in the top half of my competition. I poured myself into my dancing. Between strengthening, practicing, and classes I was putting around 20 hours a week in. My hard work really paid off.

I also learned that the only people who had to be okay with my competing were Anne and I.
There were a few times were I was looked down upon for competing at local feis and the Oireachtas (message board posts, and heard through the grapevine of people griping).
People felt I was too old. They probably did not realize I had started so late, though that should not really matter. Anyone who wants to put the work in and compete should be allowed to.
Kim Carney(in blue), adult Irish dancer
What influenced your decision to retire after qualifying a third time for Worlds?

I rounded off my Irish dance career at Nationals this year by placing 22nd and qualifying for Worlds2012. It was unbelievable. I had hoped, but never expected to qualify for worlds at nationals. I retired about a month ago after nationals, just shy of 7 years of dancing. I have a new job as an RN at a Boston Pediatric Hospital and dancing will unfortunately not fit into my schedule anymore. I have decided that this is a good stopping point for me. I love to dance, but I at this point in my life other commitments (job, family) are taking over.

Will you continue dancing as a teacher or a performer?

I plan on remaining involved with Murray. I hope to help Anne out with school events, and with the younger dancers as my time allows.

Kim Carney and Anne MacRitchie, TCRG
This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

What advice do you have for other adult Irish dancers?

Do what you love and love what you do.
If you want to take your dancing to the next level, do it, don't let fear or other's negative opinions stop you.
If you are willing to put in the time and energy you can achieve so much. Find a teacher who is supportive and see what you are capable of.

What do you envision for the future of adults in Irish dancing?

I hope that the adult Irish Dancing field continues to grow. I was very happy to see a team of young adults in the film Jig. I was also very happy to see the number of senior ladies dancing at Nationals. The competition has required a split that last two years. 
Dancers are dancing longer, and starting later than ever before. 

And because of this the competition is getting tougher. If adults continue to push for the right to compete, at whatever level they choose,there is no stopping them. :)

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Monday, October 3, 2011

IrishCentral: Back health for Irish dancers with Dr. Jack

Dr. Jack Giangiulio, D.C., Dance Injury Doctor

This article first appeared on IrishCentral.com.

As a dancer, you don't consciously think about the health of your back.  If you are like me, you take your back for granted until you have an injury. By taking a few preventative measures, you can stop injuries from occurring, and stay fit on the dance floor.

Dr. Jack Giangiulio is a dance injury doctor located in Newport Beach, California. Dr. Jack is a sought-after lecturer and consultant to numerous professional dance companies, college dance departments, schools of dance, and summer intensive dance programs. In answer to my questions about back health for Irish dancers, Dr. Jack lends some professional advice to Irish dancers who wish to keep their bodies healthy and strong.

What can a healthy, uninjured dancer do to keep their back healthy and prevent injuries?

1) First and foremost is to find a chiropractor to get regular spinal adjustments (dancer’s & athletes should be adjusted about every 2 weeks). This is the most important

2) Keep your muscles flexible--stretch.  This can be a hard concept for dancers who feel that they are flexible and stretch enough. Compare all of the hours you use your muscles to the amount of time you spend stretching them. Regular massages may also be of benefit to aid in loosing those muscles.

3) Cross-training: doing something active other than Irish dance, for example yoga or some other activity (yoga is probably the best). This will help to keep the muscle strengths balanced around the joints--a balanced joint equals a healthy joint, which means less injuries.

4) Proper hydration and eating habits as well as taking multivitamins/minerals to fuel the body and to give it what it needs to heal.

If a dancer has an injury, what steps should she/he take to get back into dance?

1) Get treated by a doctor and or therapist.

2) Do not stop dancing unless it is an absolute must.  Instead, limit the number of days and/or hours of dance. Also limit the activities in dance that produce the pain or aggravate the injury.

3) Before dancing and your usual dance warm-up, briskly walk for 6 min and then lightly stretch the injured area. After dancing, ice the injured area for 10–20 minutes. Remember not to dance immediately after icing; it will re-injure the area.  You will need to warm-up the area again with the brisk walk and stretching.

When is a back injury considered so severe that a person should stop dancing?

1) If the injured area is unstable.

2) If severe pain and/or inflammation, or severe swelling occurs with dancing.

3) If an experienced dance injury doctor tells you not to dance.



What stretches can a dancer do to maintain back health?

Stretch the Latissimus Dorsi, Piriformis, Hamstrings, Quadriceps and Calves.  If these muscles are tight they will increase pressure in the low back. This increased pressure may lead to joint or disc injuries.

For the low back itself: Prone lumbar extension stretch, knee-to chest-stretch and lumbar rotation stretch.

Does diet have anything to do with general back health?

The things we eat affect the chemistry of our bodies. A poor diet increases catabolic hormones (destructive) and decreases anabolic hormones (building).  This will create a pro-inflammatory state and increase cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which in turn irritate muscles and joints causing muscle tightness. 

Here are some foods that decrease pain and inflammation: cold water fish, onion, garlic, cayenne and ginger. There are many more.

Here are some types of food that enhance pain and inflammation: dairy products, red meats and sugars. There are many more.

What should an Irish dancer (who performs many jumps and leaps and pounds the floor with rhythm) be aware of when it comes to keeping his/her back healthy?

When it comes to Irish dancing it is important to remember that repetitive jolting especially in rhythmic patterns may have damaging effects on the back, especially the disc.  It is important to do whatever it takes to keep the low back healthy; strict attention to foundational dance techniques, chiropractic adjustments, proper diet, stretching and massage will all help with this.

To find out more information to keep you dancing healthy, go to Dr. Jack's website.

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