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The Irish dancing scene in the United States compared - feeling part of an "authentic" Irish dance class

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Practice at an 'authentic' studio

I have been Irish-dancing competitively for the past 12 years, since I was 8 years old. I have always danced at the same studio and cannot imagine a better activity, turned passion for me. I love the lively atmosphere of dance shows, the intricacies and athleticism of the steps that must also be executed with a stunning amount of grace at the same time, and I love the challenge of competition-not so much the “beating” others and winning parts, but the challenge of meeting a personal goal and the friendships that I have formed with those I dance against. My dance school is my second family and to say that I miss them terribly is a complete understatement, which was why I was very excited when I was invited to dance with my workshop teacher while studying here.

While I was excited at the prospect of getting to experience an “authentic” Irish-dance class, I was also nervous. Despite the fact that I had qualified and competed at the 2010 World Championships, I was worried that I would look subpar compared to the “real” Irish dancers. I also wondered about the teachers, would they be as “nice” as the American teachers or would the rumors I had heard about the “mean” dance instructors be true?
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I needn’t have worried. From the moment I stepped onto the dance floor at class here, I was welcomed as one of my workshop teacher’s own dancers…and treated as such. It felt nice to finally hit the dance floor and treble and jump until I was dripping in sweat. The students were welcoming as well and asked all sorts of questions about the US and Irish dancing in the States. I came to class thinking it was going to be so very different from Irish dancing in the states, but in reality…Irish dancing in North America and Irish-dancing in Ireland are actually quite similar.

I say this for a number of reasons, the first being that as long as one is willing to drill, work-hard and practice outside of class, then the class work proves beneficial. I try as much as I can to dance whenever possible back home and found I fit in rather well with the class in terms of level and style. The second reason for the two locations being similar is the increase in the number of American and Canadian podium placers and World Medal Holders in the past couple of years. While the teachers in Ireland may be a bit more blunt with their critiques of their students, I think the standard of competition is ever increasing on both sides as more and more students (myself included) are really taking time to work and improve in order to be successful overseas.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to dance nearly as much in Ireland as I would like due to time constraints regarding the time it takes for me to get to and from class, but I am thankful that I did get to experience a bit of “reel” Irish-dancing. I have some new drills to show my classmates back home and new practice tips from the Irish students, I cannot wait to get home and apply what I learned in Ireland back home on the dance scene in Colorado!

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