Healthy Irish Dancingby Kathleen M. Madigan
- The frightening facts about eating disorders and when to get help
- Try Interval training this summer to step up competitive Irish dancing
- Irish dancers opportunities to study abroad in Ireland
- Irish Dancers Cross Train with Ballet for Flexibility and Poise
- Irish dancers make calories allies for lasting energy and performance
by Caitlin Buck, Feis America LLC writer
By Caitlin Buck, Feis America LLC Contributor
It is not unusual for competitive Irish dancers to excel at other individual and team sports, and cross-training is key to endurance, execution and stamina. When it comes to cross-training, many different kinds of athletes have chosen ballet over the years. World class divers, gymnasts, and figure skaters are famous for incorporating ballet training in their programs, but here are three examples that just might surprise you.
What are your goals as an Irish dancer this year? Comment below to share what you think about MyPlate and how you use nutrition to reach your competition or exercise goals as an Irish dancer.
I think we can all probably remember at least one time in our lives when we were having such a wonderful dream, we didn’t want it to end. This recently happened to a very precious seven-year-old step dancer, Andee, from the Irish Stars Parker School of Irish Dance. Her mom Julee shared a story of what happened when she recently went to wake Andee up on a crisp autumn morning.
Andee woke quite groggy and somewhat disappointed that morning had arrived. After stretching she said: “Mommy, I don’t want to get up. I was having the most wonderful dream. I was finally able to do toe stands.”
Anyone who knows Andee knows that she lives, sleeps and dreams about Irish dance. She has both ghilles and hard shoes and dances in both beautifully. She watches the older, more experienced dancers in their hard shoes doing toe stands and wants to be like them. She understands that her Irish dance teachers, Dawn and Jacque Parker, don’t want her to do them until she is strong enough to do so properly. So for now, she does them in her dreams.
The Divine Providence Village Rainbow Irish Step Dancers are eagerly awaiting their first public performance. It’s hard to tell who is more excited, the nine amazing developmentally challenged women who make up this extraordinary group, or myself, their instructor.
Since I started volunteering to teach Irish dancing to these women last January, I have watched them grow in ability and confidence. And now, thanks to Dawn and Jacque Parker, owners and instructors of the Irish Stars Parker School of Irish Dance, where I am a student, these amazing women will have an opportunity to perform. Dawn and Jacque very graciously invited them to be a part of our Christmas recital on Dec. 11 in Bethlehem, PA.
Words can’t describe their excitement. They know they are dancing in Santa hats and can’t wait to wear them. They don’t know where Bethlehem is, but they can’t wait to get there. And they’re so enthusiastic at all of the practices we are already having for the show. For these ladies, Dec. 11 can’t come fast enough.
The other day, I had the privilege of performing my signature dance, “Book of Days,” which I discussed in my last post, at an Italian festival. Several people commented on how it had touched their hearts and souls. I know of two people in the audience who had tears in their eyes.
My instructors, Dawn and Jacque Parker of the Irish Stars Parker School of Irish Dance, and I recently re-choreographed a few sections to incorporate a deeper sense of my journey and my thankful heart for having Irish dance in my life. With so many people doing hand dancing to help memorize steps, we thought it would be a good idea to incorporate sign language into my routine.
There is a point in Enya’s song when I simplify my steps and focus more on my hands as I sign “Thank you God. Thank you for my journey. Thank you for my dance.” While we all know hands aren’t supposed to be used in the traditional form of the art, I feel as though my entire being is drawn into a place of peaceful wholeness with my new choreography.
I have recently responded to a calling within myself to do more with Irish dance. For those of you who have read my Adult Dancer article in Feis America, you may remember that the song “Book of Days” by Enya has a very special meaning for me. It has been choreographed as my signature dance, telling the story of my journey of self discovery through Irish dancing.
Well my journey continues. This past January, I started volunteering my weekends to teach Irish dance to developmentally-challenged adult women. It is both a blessing and a privilege to be able to share my passion for the art with them. Although I am dealing with a wide variety of physical and/or mental disabilities, I find that each woman I work with gives it her all.
The joy on their faces says it all. For some, the extent of what they can do, will be confined to our class time. For others, there is tremendous potential for performing in nursing homes and parades. Seeing their enthusiasm, I have no doubt they will keep me busy.
The popularity of energy drinks continues to rise and, unfortunately, so do their dangerous side effects. The popular energy drinks on the market today do not contain sugar, which the body needs for energy. Rather, they contain caffeine, a stimulant, in very high amounts.
Ginseng, guarana and taurine (an amino acid) and other herbs are also added to such drinks to enhance the stimulating effects of the caffeine. Increased heart rate and increased blood pressure can result, leading to heart attacks, cardiac arrest and even death when consumed in excess.
Look at it this way: The typical energy drink contains 70-200 mg of caffeine per 16 oz. A 16 oz cup of coffee contains 80-300 mg. Although they appear to be comparable, those who consume energy drinks often do so in excess to try to gain a competitive edge. And not only that, they carry an addictive component due to the caffeine. Which is why energy drinks have been banned in several European countries.
First, I am a novice-level dancer with Pennsylvania’s Irish Stars Parker School of Irish Dance. I started Irish dancing four years ago at the age of 50. It was actually a birthday present I gave myself. I wanted to find a fun way to get out of having to go to the gym every day. Thinking this would be a good way to exercise one or two nights a week, I was intrigued. And, yes, I was proven right.
A 9/11 tribute from the Caitrin Academy of Irish Dance - VIDEO