Healthy Irish Dancingby Kathleen M. Madigan
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- 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
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.