A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hopping Mad Irish dance school for adults in the United Kingdom

Hopping Mad adult Irish dancers from the UK
Photo: courtesy of Aine McGovern

Hopping Mad Scoil Rince na hÉireann in Brighton, United Kingdom is a group of all adult Irish dancers that started in 2010.  The Hopping Mad dancers vary in age and ability level, but they all share a love of Irish dancing. 

When Aine McGovern felt out of place in the class she previously participated in, she founded her own group of adult-only Irish dancers, and encouraged the other adults she knew to join. McGovern knew that she could continue to do something she loves as an adult. She says, "I can still move and have tidy feet and good rhythm, so why should I not do something I love?"    

The group participates in competitions, as well as performances. Wedding and private parties as well as Irish pubs are just a few of the places the ladies have performed.  Recently the Hopping Mad dancers participated in the Brighton Fringe Festival. 

Hopping Mad adult Irish dancers show off their hardware
Photo: courtesy of Aine McGovern
Differences in level and age are a strength for these adult Irish dancers, not a weakness. Two of the Hopping Mad dancers give us their unique perspectives as the youngest and oldest dancers in the group. 

Joanne Dreaden, age 18, says she hopes to continue to compete through her college years and advance her solo dances. "It's never too late," says Dreaden. "It's fantastic fun, great for keeping you in shape, and allows you to build such good friendships with people you might not otherwise have met at all."
In her mid fifties, Rosi Bryer is the oldest dancer in the Hopping Mad group. She is recovering from paralysis as a result of a brain tumor, and attributes her improvement in balance and confidence to being a part of the Irish dance school. "If you love the music, if it moves you, then go for it," Bryer says. "You can do it gently, you don't have to go all out for it. Just have a craic."
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McGovern finds joy in teaching the group of adult dancers at Hopping Mad Scoil Rince na hÉireann.  She offers advice to teachers of adult dancers:

"Listen to them:  They are usually trying their hardest learning a step, as an adult it will take longer to learn something so stick with them. 

Make dances for them:  Some adults are no longer able to lift quite so high off the floor, work with them on this and give them more intricate foot work so they don’t have to jump so much. 

Take them seriously: There is nothing worse than being ignored or made feel stupid for not remembering the whole step.

Stand your ground: Adults have opinions and are often more forceful than teens at putting it across;  remember you are the teacher and you are in charge; yes let them voice it but remind them you are the teacher and have the experience to lead the class." ~Aine McGovern

Hopping Mad adult Irish dancers practice
Photo: courtesy of Aine McGovern


Readers: Are you an adult Irish dancer, competitive or not, with a story to share? Would you like to inspire others to feel your passion for Irish dancing and culture? Do you have a question about Irish dancing? Please comment in the box below for replies and contact information!

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