We’ve been an Irish dance family for 12 years. Before that, I competed on an adult Irish dance team. And I also did a few classes and competitions years back when I was 7 or 8 years old. It’s woven deep into the fabric of our story.
On the Irish dance journey, we have met amazing friends, travelled around the world to leave it all on the dance floor for international judges, and learned about grit, perseverance, teamwork and winning and losing with grace.
And then, the pandemic happened. The 50th anniversary of the World Irish Dance Championships in Dublin was cancelled. The North American Championships was cancelled. Everything shut down. But our school, and others, quickly pivoted to Zoom classes and our dancers were still able to learn new steps, perfect the ones they had, and burn off some of the uncertainty through a good workout.
Then this past weekend we did something that would have been unthinkable before. We had a virtual Irish dance feis (competition) with our sister school in Britain! Judges from England and Ireland, comments and results within the hour. Breakout rooms, kids running their own music, and wonderful dancing. All highlighting that plywood is the new hardwood since 2020 and it’s not about the space you have, it’s about what you do with it.
It was music to all our ears. This resilient group offered us a new rhythm to go with the beats unveiled by COVID-19 and gave us that feeling back. The feeling of community and dreams and the idea that anything is possible.
Because it is.
We don’t know what will come next. We will follow the rules and do everything we can to work together until we reach the light at the end of the tunnel. But while we’re waiting, we will dance.
This past weekend I travelled to Cleveland, Ohio on a bus trip to an Irish dance competition with my three kids. I know they won’t be dancing forever, so I jump at the chance to see all three of them participating in an extracurricular activity together. I love how all the dancers cheer each other on from the sidelines, congratulate those who reach a goal and support those who didn’t end up where they wanted on a given day. Continue reading
Just back from a whirlwind weekend at the Eastern Canadian Irish Dance Championships. The boys came first and second in their solos and my daughter danced wonderfully in a group of 43 dancers including many from higher levels. They competed in teams as well and all three kids were on first place teams in multiple categories. Continue reading
American abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Almost four years ago my now 14-year-old son qualified for the champ level of Irish Dance before his time. Although he worked hard and grew a lot, he didn’t place when competing locally or recall for a medal at a major international competition since then. Four long years. Continue reading
Life is what happens when you are making other plans.
All three of my kids are competitive Irish dancers and it takes up much of the oxygen in our lives. As I’ve said before, I don’t pay for dance but for the life lessons it teaches including perseverance, dedication, getting up when you fall, and winning and losing with grace. In a month, my two boys are registered to compete at the North American Irish Dance Championships in New Orleans. Planes and hotels booked. Practices and workshops on the calendar. Continue reading
This weekend we ran a fundraising gala for the 13 kids from our dance school competing next month in the World Irish Dance Championships in Ireland. Family and friends celebrated, watched the kids perform, and danced the night away.
It made me wonder what the kids were thinking about their upcoming journey. Taking the stage with other dancers from around the world in front of nine international judges. The end result of all those nights of practicing, learning steps, stretching, doing drills, and dreaming. Continue reading