A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adult-friendly Irish dance feiseanna for March

Adult Irish dancers at the Dublin Irish Festival calm their nerves backstage
Photo: flickr/hockeyvoice2000

Many feiseanna offer competitions for adult Irish dancers.  Here's a quick glance at feiseanna that are friendly to adult Irish dancers in March.

Plan on supporting a feis in your area that includes adult Irish dancers and keep an eye out for those feiseanna who are offering slow speed dances for adults. 

*source: www.feisworx.com 

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

Lavin-Cassidy Feis 2012
Lake Geneva, WI - Mar 3, 2012
Lavin-Cassidy School

B1/B2, N/PW
3 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional speeds
traditional set
8 hand
specials: soda bread

Pacific Northwest Championships 2012
Seattle, WA - Mar 3, 2012 to Mar 4, 2012
Comerford School of Irish Dance

B, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional speeds
traditional set
2,3,4,6,8 hand
trophy specials: Beginner Reel, Novice/PW Reel, Treble Reel, St. Patrick’s Day Trad Set 

Possak Feis at the Tower 2012
Calgary, AB - Mar 3, 2012 to Mar 4, 2012
Possak School

B, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional speeds
traditional set
2,3,4,6,8 hand, progressive
specials: treble reel

Texas State Championships & Feis 2012
Dallas, TX - Mar 3, 2012
McTeggart Irish Dancers of North Texas

B, B2, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional and slow speeds
2,3,4,6,8 hand, progressive
specials: treble reel

*if you have a photo of your adult class practicing or performing that you would like to see featured, please email me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adult Irish dancers dream big at the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance in New York - PHOTOS

Adult Irish dancers at the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance in New York City
Photo: Niall O'Leary

Kristina Varade is proud to belong to the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance, in New York City where adults are welcome and encouraged.  Kristina joins us today to talk about her school and adult Irish dancing.

Feis America: Welcome Kristina!  Thank you for sharing with us what your school is doing for adult Irish dancers. What is your dance school's attitude toward adults?

Varade: Our teacher, Niall O'Leary of the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance, is fully committed toward his adult Irish dancers. He encourages all adult students, whether beginning or advanced, male or female, to participate in shows and informal performances or to compete at local and regional feisanna, no matter what level or ability. The school also has a strong commitment to team ceili dancing, and we are particularly proud of our tradition of placing well in major regional championships in this particular aspect of Irish dance.
Adult Irish dancers from the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance in New York City
Feis America: How many Irish dancers in your school are adults?
Varade:  Classes held on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings are comprised of adult Irish dancers.

Feis America: Are your adult Irish dancers involved in performance and competition?
Varade:  Adult Irish dancers fully participate in both performance and competition. Some adults choose to focus solely on the annual student showcase, while others regularly attend feisanna. A small group of adults demonstrate their high level of Irish dancing mastery through participation in the Niall O'Leary Irish Dance Troupe. Niall O'Leary also organizes lots of events where adult Irish dancers get to perform, such as Irish Culture Night every Thursday at Paddy Reilly's on 2nd Ave and 29th Street, and a Leap Year celebration with lots of leaping on February 29th at P.D. O'Hurley's West End on 72nd Street, both in Manhattan. Further details about 'Leap Year Irish Evening', go to the Niall 'O Leary website. 

Feis America:  As adult Irish dancers, how do you balance work and school with Irish dance?
Varade:  The balance between dance and work can be difficult at times. However, Irish dance forces you to concentrate only on the steps and music which are given to you by a dedicated teacher, easily blocking out the stresses and concerns of a daily job. The beauty of our school is found in the variety of adults who have chosen to continue with their study of Irish dance, even though they are pressed for time and hold important jobs. Most of the adult classes are held in the later evening, making it possible for adults to dance after daily personal and professional duties are completed. While dancing could appear to be a drag when class ends at ten o'clock at night, no one ever appears regretful for having pulled themselves to class. This is also because we adults have a close relationship with one another. The music, laughter, and concentration is an instantaneous energizer!     

Feis America:  What do you think the future looks like for adult Irish dancers?
Varade:  The future of adult Irish dancers is absolutely bright. It would be exciting to see more opportunities for competitive adult Irish dancers in the tri-state region; however, dance schools are paying attention to this need, and adult competition continues to grow. As such, adult Irish dancing remains a strong force in feisanna. It would be fantastic to see adult-only competition at even bigger events, like Nationals or even Worlds. Adult Irish dancers dream big!

Kristina Varade, adult Irish dancer with the
Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance

Photo Rosie Cooper
Feis America:  Thank you Kristina.  Good luck to you and the dancers there at the Niall O'Leary School of Irish Dance!

Readers:  If you know of an Irish dance school that is supportive of adults and would like to be spotlighted, please send me an email

Monday, February 20, 2012

Take the Floor 2012 brings the future Irish dance stars together

Shane MacAvinchey and Paula Goulding are directing a new ten week workshop and performance this August in Ireland.  For more information, go to the Take the Floor 2012 website.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Senior ladies prepare for All Irelands, Interviews with top three Senior Ladies 2011 - PHOTOS

Senior ladies champions 2011
Emily Penner 1st, Maggie Darlington 2nd, Emily Babyn 3rd
photo Deirdre Gallibois

Senior ladies will be competing for the All Irelands Irish Dancing Championships this weekend. I tracked down the top three champs of 2011 to get their thoughts and advice for this year’s competitors.

Emily Penner, Maggie Darlington, and Emily Babyn know what it’s like to continue dancing past their teens. None of the top three Senior Ladies are attending All Irelands this year, but they are willing to share their insights with the dancers who will be competing for the coveted spots for 2012.

“Senior Ladies is a whole new ball game because you are competing against dancers of so many different ages,” says Darlington (Claddagh Dance Company, US West). “Every year it is an entirely new group of people so it's impossible to judge, or have a feeling of the outcome before the day.” Babyn (Ni Fhearraigh O'Ceallaigh, Eastern Canada) agrees, “The caliber of dancing is just as high as the Worlds (sometimes higher!), and the atmosphere is amazing. One of the great things about the All Ireland's is the opportunity to receive "solo recalls" for the first two rounds.”

“I think the biggest difference when dancing as a "Senior Lady" compared to being a child or teen is the time commitment that competitive dancing takes,” says Babyn. Penner (Butler Fearon O’Conner School of Irish Dance, Eastern Canada) reflects, “It did make me feel more aware of the time I've spent training for and competing in competitions over the last 17 years: reflecting back on the trials and successes.”  

Penner was surprised when she took first place with a perfect score of 500 last year. “I was absolutely not expecting that,” she says, “When the first and second 100s were announced I was then expecting lower scores and was thrilled knowing that I'd end up in 2nd or 3rd overall. I think I looked confused more than anything when the final three marks came up as the remaining 100s.”

Emily Penner and Emily Babyn
2011 Senior Ladies All Ireland Champions
photo Deirdre Gallibois
 Read more:

What advice do the ladies have for this year’s All Ireland Senior Ladies competitors?

“First, congratulations! Simply preparing yourself for a competition of
this standard is a great achievement. Second, enjoy every moment of
being a Senior Lady! This was my favorite age category to compete in,
the backstage "buzz" is amazing. Everybody is so nice and every single
dancer is there because their passion for dance is too strong to give
it up just yet. Good Luck!!”
~ Emily Babyn, 3rd place All Ireland 2011

"Just to put your heart into it. If you're still competing at our age you obviously love it, so you may as well put it all out there!"
            ~Maggie Darlington, 2nd place All Ireland 2011

“Make sure to let everyone know that Senior Ladies can still bring it!”
~Emily Pennere 1st place All Irelands 2011

Thanks to Feis America blogger Darlene White for posting a full schedule of competitions at All Ireland. Below is a listing of the Senior Ladies and Senior Men.

Friday, 17th of February
Ladies 19-20
Ladies 20-21
Senior Ceili and Figure Over 16
Ceili Club Championships
Ceili Club 4 Hands

Saturday, 18th of February
Ladies 18–19
Ladies Over 21
Men 18–19
Men 19–21
Men Over 21
Marie Duffy Foundation New Musical Composition – 

Performance of Choreography

Bookmark this page and check back here on Irish Central's Irish dance page for timely updates and news from Dublin all week long!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adult Irish dancer Sara Kubik with Maple Academy

Sara Kubik, adult Irish dancer from Maple Academy in Virginia 

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

Thank you, Sara, for telling us a little about your Irish dance journey.

How did you get started in Irish dancing?

When I was 11, I saw Lord of the Dance for the first time in a dance elective at school. From then on, I was obsessed.  I watched either Riverdance or Lord of the Dance every day. I practiced overs in the pool. I just couldn't sign up for dance classes because I was a competitive gymnast. I spent most of my time in the gym, and though I kept loving Irish dance, it just wasn't meant to be at the time. My senior year of high school, I quit gymnastics due to injuries and lack of interest. I was then a coxswain for my school's crew team before I graduated and went off to college.
In my first few months of college, I felt lost not having an organized physical activity to do, and I eventually found myself looking up Irish dance schools in my area  After assessing all my options, I emailed a TCRG of a small dance school near me who said that though she doesn't normally take adult beginners, there was an adult class starting in a few weeks  I went weekly and learned all the beginner dances, started hard shoe, and eventually got to the point where I knew all the steps the adult running the class knew  I was put into regular classes and started competing at feiseanna. When my original dance school closed, I moved over to Maple Academy, which aside from being much bigger, also has dancers in classes who are my age.
Sara Kubik and adult Irish dancers
Which is your favorite--hard shoe or soft shoe?

This is always a tough question for me because it changes on a daily basis! I really enjoy doing soft shoe because it comes naturally to me from all my years of jumping around at gymnastics, but there is nothing more satisfying than nailing down a difficult hard shoe rhythm.

What is the most important thing you learned about yourself when you attended World's?

Attending worlds gave me perspective on my personal view of my dancing career. In all the work I put in preparing for such a prestigious competition, I almost lost that spark that made me love and want to do all things Irish dance  Preparing became a part-time job that I began to resent. It took me stepping on to the worlds stage on my day of competition to realize just how far I've come in a short amount of time in an art form that I was doing purely for fun. Since then, I have been constantly reminding myself to not put that much pressure on myself, and though it doesn't always work, I do have a renewed passion for Irish dance.

Sarah Kubik, adult Irish dancer, at World's

Many, if not all of the adult dancers in my school are dancers who kept dancing through college or decided to come back to the sport after a little break. We are leaders in the school and have a variety of positions from role models, to helping out with beginner classes, to simply leading warm ups at the start of class. As for beginning adults, I'm really not sure since I only attend class once a week in one location.

What do you hope other's will take away from reading your Irish dance blog RinceGoBragh?

My hope is that other people interested in Irish dance read my blog and realize that it is never too late to start dancing! I also try to post tidbits not pertaining to my own dancing (ways to save money, things going on in the dance world, etc.). I also just started doing a monthly Irish dance how-to video tutorial which will feature a variety of different topics from warm ups to crafting tutorials.

You can find Sara's blog at RiceGoBragh.blogspot.com

Sara Kubik, adult Irish dancer
Thanks Sarah!  Happy dancing!

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