A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irish dance competitions for adult Irish dancers in July

Adult Irish dancers from the Bennett School of Irish Dance in Denver, Colorado.
Photo: courtesy Bennet School of Irish Dance



Many feiseanna (Irish dance competitions) offer competitions for adult Irish dancers. Here's a quick glance at feiseanna that welcome adult Irish dancers in July.

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. 


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

Clan na nGael Summer Feis 2012
Columbus, OH - Jul 14, 2012
Shamrock Club of Columbus



B1/B2, N/PW
3 soft shoe
2 hard shoe
no traditional set 
no figures
no specials


Colorado Irish Festival Feis 2012
Littleton, CO - Jul 14, 2012 to Jul 15, 2012
Colorado United Irish Societies



B, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe
traditional set 
2,3,4,6,8 hand
no specials


Badger State Feis 2012
Milwaukee, WI - Jul 21, 2012
Badger State Feis



B1/B2, N/PW
3 soft shoe
2 hard shoe
no traditional set 
2,3,4 hand
parent/child special


Dance For Life 2012
Seattle, WA - Jul 21, 2012 to Jul 22, 2012
Scoil Rince Slieveloughane



B, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional and slow speeds
traditional set 
2,3,4,6,8 hand
reel special for B, N, and PW; parent/child figure


Nation's Capital Feis and All-American C 2012
Washington, D.C. - Jul 21, 2012 to Jul 22, 2012



B, B2, N, Open
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe
traditional set 
non-traditional set and treble reel
2,3,4,6,8 hand, choreography
Hard shoe Exhibition Extravaganza, Showcase Style Competition
Parent/child special


Cream City Feis 2012
Milwaukee, WI - Jul 22, 2012
Kinsella Acadmy Family Association



B1/B2, N/PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe, traditional speeds
traditional set and single jig pending
8 hand pending
no specials


Maitiu O'Maoileidigh Summer Feis 2012
Irvine, CA - Jul 28, 2012 to Jul 29, 2012
Celtic Gold Academy


B1, N, PW
4 soft shoe
2 hard shoe
traditional set 
2,3,4,6,8 hand
treble reel special, challenge cup: slip or reel and set dance

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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Irish Dance Diet - 3 levels of Performance


I went to a the Utah State Feis this past weekend. Even though I placed pretty well, I danced quite possibly the worst I ever have in competition.  And truthfully, the only reason I placed well was because there were only up to 3 dancers in each competition.  The "stage" was in a remote classroom, where only a handful of people came to watch. Still, that shouldn't be an excuse.  I just didn't have my game on to the point that I was performing.

There are three levels of performance:

1-Memorization
At this stage you are worried that you might forget a step.  An observer may be able to see it in your expression as you mental calculate what comes next.

2-Self-consciousness You are worried about what you look like to others. Are my feet turned out? Does my dress flatter my figure? How do I look when I leap?

3-Performing Now you are ready. Your steps are a natural extension of your feet and you can turn inward and give the full expression of emotion and drama to your audience. This is the time to shine. Have you ever experienced the third level of performance? How did you get there?



Week Twelve

Weight lost=.8 pounds
Total weight loss= 3 pounds

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review, Norah and The Irish Dresser series by Cynthia G. Neale - VIDEO

Norah by Cynthia G. Neale

Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th Century New York by Cynthia G. Neale, tells of a young woman's struggle to understand how she fits into the new world in America, and what her home country of Ireland means to her.

Norah McCabe arrives in New York from Ireland at a tumultuous time. After enduring the potato famine of 1845-1850, Norah is determined to make a new life for herself, and begins a business of selling used dresses. Norah sees that life in America is not all that she wishes it to be. The Irish emigrants are treated with little respect, and soon hunger finds her family in the promised land.

When she is offered a job writing for a local newspaper, Norah is certain that she will be able to make a better life for her family. Her involvement with revolutionists plunges her deep within the underground of New York City with all of its cruelty. Out of this desperation rises hope for a better life, and a love for Ireland, the country she cannot forsake.

Neale weaves a historical fiction that is both beautiful, and haunting. The words float off the page and play out like images on a movie screen. Norah's deep longing, and richly felt heritage flow through the prose.

"She picked up the worn old instrument and held it near to her face and imagined the lilts of wild moon-lit music nights in Ireland as a child. The musical strains had made patterns on her soul that she had sought to cover up and smooth over with her new life in America, but now they were surfacing. She pressed the fiddle to her cheek and felt the wood's armor, warrior armor that had endured famines, storms and an ocean that had demanded sacrifice for survival" (p.134).

Readers should be cautioned that Norah is an adult novel, and the adult content, though appropriate to the subject matter, is not intended for young adults or children.
The Irish Dresser
by Cynthia G. Neale
Neale wrote two prequels to Norah that are aimed at the young adult market. The Irish Dresser and Hope in New York City are as full of emotion and hope as the more recent Norah.

In The Irish Dresser, we meet Norah in her hometown, surrounded by friends and family who struggle to survive as The Great Hunger ravages through their potato fields, and their livelihood. Her fiery will and indomitable spirit carry her across the ocean as she stows away in the Irish dresser that allows her passage to a new world.

-------------------
Read more:




Hope in New York City
by Cynthia G. Neale
Hope in New York City continues the story as Norah finds that, although America may be a land of opportunity, there is much that the Irish emigrants can teach about poverty, racism and injustice.

Cynthia Neale's books about Norah McCabe will appeal to those readers who enjoy experiencing history through fiction. Her books weave a captivating story and give historical information.

You can visit Cynthia on her website, and purchase her books on Amazon:

Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th Century New York
The Irish Dresser: A Story of Hope During the Great Hunger
Hope in New York City: The Continuing Story of The Irish Dresser


Norah by Cynthia Neale (book trailer)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Irish Dance Diet - Every Day is a Holiday


Every time I turn, around I am eating to celebrate.  Father's Day, birthdays, reunions, 4th of July, "it's a weekend" days, "I made it through the day" days. If I am to be successful at losing and maintaining that  weight loss, I must change my perspective. After all, there are other ways to celebrate!

Here are a few tips for curbing the urge to celebrate with food:

1-When eating out, ask yourself, is this a special occasion?  If it is, splurge a little and make up for it earlier in the day or the next day.  If not, eat similar to how you would at home.

2-Find non-food ways to celebrate.  Reward yourself with a bubble bath, a new book, some great smelling lotion, or a night out at the movies.

3-Bring a healthy contribution to an event. If you are attending a reunion or party where you don't have control over the meal, bring a healthy salad for your part of the meal.  At least you know one thing that you will be able to eat. And bring some healthy portable snacks with you.  If the food selection is too high in calories, you don't actually have to eat it.  You can survive a few hours without food and the snacks you bring will tide you over.

4-Have a water in hand. Drink plenty of water all day to fill you up and keep you satisfied.  If you have a glass of water in your hand at a party, you will be less likely to snack on high calorie hors d'oeuvres.

Last week my grandmother passed away and the week was filled with funeral activities and family.  I was unable to attend dance class and only practiced a few days.  This week I have only one dance class but I have a feis on Saturday.

I realized that part of the reason why I've been stalling in weight loss is because circumstances in my life have been changing my goals.  I need to make new goals to work toward.  My new weight loss goal: ten pounds by the first week in August. For me that is a pretty ambitious goal.  In order to do so I will need to eliminate snacks and make certain that I get at least one work out in everyday, sometimes working out more than just my Irish dance classes and practice.

And my reward?  Still want to get that solo dress.


Week Eleven

Weight lost=.3 pounds
Total weight loss= 2.6 pounds

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 h√Čireann 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."
-------------------
Read more:




McGovern finds joy in teaching the group of adult dancers at Hopping Mad Scoil Rince na h√Čireann.  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!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Renowned Irish dance camp welcomes young adult Irish dancers


Camp Rince Ceol Irish dance camp
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren


For thirteen years, Camp Rince Ceol has been known as the camp “where Irish dancers spend their summers.” Now, young adults, ages 19-24, have a chance to experience the highly acclaimed Irish dance camp.

Camp Rince Ceol is a summer camp for Irish dancers who want to increase their knowledge of all things Irish dance. Sheila Ryan-Davoren, TCRG began the camp with her husband, Tony Davoren, after they both toured with Riverdance in the Lee Company. Together, they formed a camp that combines an intense study of the sport of Irish dancing with a fun summer camp experience. Sheila says, “I wanted to incorporate summer-time feeling with classroom instruction.”
Campers take a break from classes
at Camp Rince Ceol
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren
After receiving many requests to allow older dancers to attend camp, Sheila and Tony decided to invite dancers ages 19-24 to attend Camp Rince Ceol. During the third session of camp in New York, young adults will come together to increase their learning of Irish dance and culture.

Young adult dancers receive all of the benefits of their younger counterparts: a full curriculum of core classes, bonus classes, amazing meals, clean rooms (no tents here), night-time activities, and an opportunity to showcase what they have learned. In addition to the regular privileges, young adults get a few extra perks.  They are allowed the use of cell phones, have access to a Wi-Fi network during camp, and are treated to an off-campus dinner with instructors.

Sheila wants Irish dancers to have a great experience socializing, having fun and sharing the love of Irish dance. Sheila says, “Camp is fun, but we are there for a reason—the kids work hard. “
Camp Rince Ceol campers "hand dancing"
Photo: Courtesy Sheila Ryan-Davoren
What you should know about Camp Rince Ceol:

All of the Irish dance instructors at Camp Rince Ceol are former touring group members from such shows as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. A list of instructors can be found on the Camp Rince Ceol website.

Camp Rince Ceol is open to campers ages 8-24.

In addition to core Irish dancing classes, other classes include language, sports (hurling, rugby), show steps, behind the scenes, ballet, yoga, foot care, rhythm and timing, footwork, stage presence, and Irish dance and music history.

Camp Rince Ceol has been approved by An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha as an "Open Workshop" for 2012 and therefore is exempt from any association/affiliation rules.

There are two locations:  Dunn School, Los Olivos, California and Union College in Schenectady, New York.

Young adults are invited to attend Camp Rince Ceol in New York during the week of July 29th-August 3rd.

Camp Rince Ceol




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!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Irish Dance Diet - Don't want to? Do it anyway.




So I have a confession to make.  I didn't blog last week on purpose.  And it's because I haven't been doing very well on the weight loss end of this Irish dance diet (see stats below).

Oh, I've been going to classes and I've been practicing. But my eating has been slipping and I've been letting other circumstances get in the way of my goals.

I even considered giving up and not continuing my Irish dance diet journey. But I realize that I am better than that. And not only do I need to lose weight in order to be a better dancer, but if I don't loose the weight, I may end up with an injury that prevents me from dancing in the future.

I am feeling a bit unmotivated and I am hoping that by saying so it won't drag you down in your efforts to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself.  In fact, I am hoping that by seeing that I am human, and I struggle in my long term goals, that you will see that you are not the only one who is doing something hard, and sometimes falling short.

Even though I don't really like doing some of what needs to be done to get to my goal, I am going to do it anyway.  It may hurt, and it may be hard, but I CAN DO HARD THINGS!

And you can too.


Week Ten

Weight lost=let's just say we are starting over. :)
Total weight loss= 2.3 pounds

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Adult Irish dancer spotlight on fun and friendship at Georgia's Drake School



Adult Irish dancers with instructor Mary Branick Ujda, TCRG (far right)
Photo: Faith Peppers

"For adult dancers, dance is not about seeing how high we can get in competition before we graduate. This is about dancing for life."  -Mary Branick Ujda, TCRG at Drake School of Irish Dance

Today we have both a dancer, and an instructor from the Drake School of Irish Dance in Norcross, Georgia. Faith Peppers has been dancing as an adult Irish dancer for over 20 years, the longest time out of her group. Mary Branick Ujda is the certified teacher that teaches this lively bunch of adults. We are lucky enough to hear from both of them.

Feis America LLC: Where do you live and what school does your group belong to?

Faith: Our group dances with the Drake School of Irish Dance in Norcross, GA. We have dancers from all around the north side of Metropolitan Atlanta.

Feis America LLC: How does your school support adult Irish dancers?

Mary: For adult dancers, dance is not about seeing how high we can get in competition before we graduate, it's about dancing for life. 

As the teacher, my goal is to engage everyone at the right level. In a class that ranges from graduate students to grandparents, the steps are not going to be one-size-fits-all. For dancers who want to work on the latest choreography, Karl Drake TCRG (founder of Drake School of Irish Dance) joins us for a workshop every year. For dancers who want to go easy on an injury, we modify. For dancers who want to dance the basics well, we choreograph new steps in a more traditional style.

Our class recognizes that, as much as we love Irish dance, it has to fit in with the demands of work, children, health issues, and other realities of our adult lives. Although there will always be times when dancers have to take some time off from class, they always come back, and they always have classmates ready to help them catch up!
Adult Irish dancers from Drake School of Irish dance
Faith Pepper is seen here on the right
Photo: Faith Peppers

Faith: We have a terrific teacher, Mary Branick Ujda, who was a member of our adult class before she earned her TCRG. We are all very supportive of one another. In the time we've been dancing together, we've had 10 babies born to members of our class.

We started with just four or five adults who came to dance and have a bit of fun. We then recruited some of the school students' moms to join our group. At feisanna we were usually the only adults competing, but, over time the class has grown and evolved, and so has the number of competitors.

-------------------
Read more:



Feis America LLC: Does your group perform and compete? What are some of your experiences?

Faith: Once a team member showed up to dance in a feis and forgot her tights or bloomers. We grabbed some from a vendor and made a circle around her while she slipped them on.

Another time, we got on stage to dance a 4-hand and noticed one of our group had forgotten to change out of her hardshoes. It made for an interesting dance; her trying to keep her shoes quiet, the rest of us trying to keep a straight face. 

I think the best comments ever from an adjudicator were: "Lovely 4-hand. Nice footwork. Great timing. But, you sounded like a couple in a drive-in movie. Get in shape ladies!" So, we've set about doing that by doing more of what we love, dancing.

My first Oireachtas was in Orlando in 1996. I was six weeks pregnant and green as green the morning I had to dance. I was the only competitor in my Novice category that day. Before I began my dance, Karl Drake stepped in from behind me and said to the crowd, "Be kind, now. She's dancing for two."
Drake School of Irish Dance adult Irish dancers, Peach State Feis 2011
Photo: Kathleen O'Reilly-Wild
MARY:  One year, at the Peach State Feis, when our adults were the only 8-hand in their competition, all the other stages in the room paused for their dance. Adults are not usually the center of attention at a feis, but the whole room gave them a huge round of applause afterwards and one of the Drake - Mexico City dancers clapped one of the dancers on the back with a big "Excelente!"

Feis America LLC: What plans do you have for your adult Irish dancing group in the future?

Mary: We look forward to attracting more adult dancers in the Atlanta area who enjoy the challenge of Irish dance, and the mighty craic that goes along with it! We hope to branch out to other performance opportunities while continuing to support the local feiseanna. And we definitely plan to throw more parties with all of our families where we can roll up the rugs and dance a ceili or two!

Irish Central: What advice do you have for schools who are just beginning to teach a few adults?

Faith: Don't make it stressful. Adults are there for fun and stress relief. If it's too structured, it's not fun. Mix it up with steps and figures. Have social time outside of dance to build friendship and camaraderie so the competition doesn't divide the group.

Mary: Challenge them as dancers, respect them as adults, get to know them as friends.

-----------------------------

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!

Adult Irish dancer spotlight on fun and friendship at Georgia's Drake School


Adult Irish dancers with instructor Mary Branick Ujda, TCRG (far right)
Photo: Faith Peppers

"For adult dancers, dance is not about seeing how high we can get in competition before we graduate. This is about dancing for life."  -Mary Branick Ujda, TCRG at Drake School of Irish Dance

Today we have both a dancer, and an instructor from the Drake School of Irish Dance in Norcross, Georgia. Faith Peppers has been dancing as an adult Irish dancer for over 20 years, the longest time out of her group. Mary Branick Ujda is the certified teacher that teaches this lively bunch of adults. We are lucky enough to hear from both of them.

Feis America LLC: Where do you live and what school does your group belong to?

Faith: Our group dances with the Drake School of Irish Dance in Norcross, GA. We have dancers from all around the north side of Metropolitan Atlanta.

Feis America LLC: How does your school support adult Irish dancers?

Mary: For adult dancers, dance is not about seeing how high we can get in competition before we graduate, it's about dancing for life. 

As the teacher, my goal is to engage everyone at the right level. In a class that ranges from graduate students to grandparents, the steps are not going to be one-size-fits-all. For dancers who want to work on the latest choreography, Karl Drake TCRG (founder of Drake School of Irish Dance) joins us for a workshop every year. For dancers who want to go easy on an injury, we modify. For dancers who want to dance the basics well, we choreograph new steps in a more traditional style.

Our class recognizes that, as much as we love Irish dance, it has to fit in with the demands of work, children, health issues, and other realities of our adult lives. Although there will always be times when dancers have to take some time off from class, they always come back, and they always have classmates ready to help them catch up!
Adult Irish dancers from Drake School of Irish dance
Faith Pepper is seen here on the right
Photo: Faith Peppers

Faith: We have a terrific teacher, Mary Branick Ujda, who was a member of our adult class before she earned her TCRG. We are all very supportive of one another. In the time we've been dancing together, we've had 10 babies born to members of our class.

We started with just four or five adults who came to dance and have a bit of fun. We then recruited some of the school students' moms to join our group. At feisanna we were usually the only adults competing, but, over time the class has grown and evolved, and so has the number of competitors.

-------------------
Read more:



Feis America LLC: Does your group perform and compete? What are some of your experiences?

Faith: Once a team member showed up to dance in a feis and forgot her tights or bloomers. We grabbed some from a vendor and made a circle around her while she slipped them on.

Another time, we got on stage to dance a 4-hand and noticed one of our group had forgotten to change out of her hardshoes. It made for an interesting dance; her trying to keep her shoes quiet, the rest of us trying to keep a straight face. 

I think the best comments ever from an adjudicator were: "Lovely 4-hand. Nice footwork. Great timing. But, you sounded like a couple in a drive-in movie. Get in shape ladies!" So, we've set about doing that by doing more of what we love, dancing.

My first Oireachtas was in Orlando in 1996. I was six weeks pregnant and green as green the morning I had to dance. I was the only competitor in my Novice category that day. Before I began my dance, Karl Drake stepped in from behind me and said to the crowd, "Be kind, now. She's dancing for two."
Drake School of Irish Dance adult Irish dancers, Peach State Feis 2011
Photo: Kathleen O'Reilly-Wild
MARY:  One year, at the Peach State Feis, when our adults were the only 8-hand in their competition, all the other stages in the room paused for their dance. Adults are not usually the center of attention at a feis, but the whole room gave them a huge round of applause afterwards and one of the Drake - Mexico City dancers clapped one of the dancers on the back with a big "Excelente!"

Feis America LLC: What plans do you have for your adult Irish dancing group in the future?

Mary: We look forward to attracting more adult dancers in the Atlanta area who enjoy the challenge of Irish dance, and the mighty craic that goes along with it! We hope to branch out to other performance opportunities while continuing to support the local feiseanna. And we definitely plan to throw more parties with all of our families where we can roll up the rugs and dance a ceili or two!

Irish Central: What advice do you have for schools who are just beginning to teach a few adults?

Faith: Don't make it stressful. Adults are there for fun and stress relief. If it's too structured, it's not fun. Mix it up with steps and figures. Have social time outside of dance to build friendship and camaraderie so the competition doesn't divide the group.

Mary: Challenge them as dancers, respect them as adults, get to know them as friends.