A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New York's O'Rourke adult Irish dancers feel like family - PHOTOS

LuAnn O'Rourke and her adult Irish dancer Ladies 8-hand team
Photo: courtesy O'Rourke Irish Dancers

The O'Rourke Irish Dancers have a healthy adult Irish dancer program.  LuAnne O'Rourke, TCRG, ADCRG began the school in 1995 and it is located in White Plains, New York. 

Feis America:  How did your adult Irish dancer program begin?  

LuAnn:  After I opened my school in 1995, I was approached by an adult to give her private lessons.
She wanted to learn to Irish dance desperately, but no one in the area offered adult classes. I started teaching her after my kids' classes, and actually enjoyed teaching her. Adults have great attention spans, pick up quick, and make corrections easily. I found it refreshing after spending a few hours with young children. Word got out and it snowballed from there. 

Feis America:  What is the culture like for adult Irish dancers at your school?  

LuAnn:  We are like a family. Some of the adults in the school are parents of the kids dancing. Some of the adult dancers are siblings, and we even have an engaged couple. We have danced at many of their weddings and have seen their families grow. The adults are friendly with each other outside of class as well.  Lifelong friendships have been formed, and they support each other in dance and other aspects of their lives.  

LuAnn O'Rourke and her adult Irish dancer mixed 4-hand team
Photo: courtesy O'Rourke Irish Dancers

Feis America:  Where do the adult Irish dancers perform/compete?  

LuAnn:  They dance at St. Patrick's Day functions, parades, weddings, festivals, and our annual recital.    They are also very competitive! Our Ladies 8-Hand team has won the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas 7 times and the North American Championship 3 times; their 4-hand has won the Oireachtas [Regional Championships] 5 times, our Mixed 8-Hand has won the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas [Regional Championships] 3 times, and Nationals once; their 4-Hand has won Nationals 4 times. In addition, the Ladies' team are the first North American team to take home a First Place All-Ireland [Irish Dancing Championships] medal in the 4-Hand Ceili Club category. They are setting their sights on the Great Britain Championships some time in the future.   

LuAnn O'Rourke and her adult Irish dancer National Champion ceili team
Photo: courtesy O'Rourke Irish Dancers
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Feis America:  What advice can you give to others who want to form a strong adult
Irish dancer program?  

LuAnn:  Treat adult dancers with respect, and as an integral part of your school and business. Adults have children that can become a part of your school, if they are not already. They are great volunteers for your feis, and can also become life-long friends. Make time for them, even if it's after all of your kid's classes. Give them opportunities to be an important part of your school by getting them involved in performances, competition, and your feis if you run one.

Feis America:  How do you envision the future for adult Irish dancers?  

LuAnn:  I hope that some day in the near future the CLRG will consider adding an adult ceili
competition to the World Championships. Adult dancers are here, and thriving, and want to be a part of the greater Irish dance community. The more opportunities we give them, the more they will get involved.  

O'Rourke adult Irish dancers
Photo: courtesy O'Rourke Irish Dancers


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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