Lockie Nidds doing a fabulous leapover - February 2012
Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico - place called Dreams
Photo:  Janine Vellis
This week, I had the great honor of interviewing 15 year-old Open Champion Irish dancer Lockie Nidds from New Jersey.  Lockie is a three-time consecutive Mid-Atlantic regional Irish dancing champion, 10th place 2011 World Irish dancing championship medal holder, and placed 5th at the 2011 North American National Irish Dancing Championships.  Lockie currently dances with the Broesler School of Irish Dance under the direction of Kevin Broesler, TCRG, ADCRG.

DW:  In a few words can you tell us why you started Irish dance? Any Irish roots?
Lockie:  My grandfather is very Irish.  When I was four, my grandparents showed me Riverdance on video, as they had just seen it live the week before. My eyes were glued to the screen, and after it was over, I said, "I want to do that." I tried to learn on my own by watching the video, but within a year my mom brought me to the Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance to learn for real.  I was five years old when I began Irish dancing.  I was with the Ryan-Kilcoyne School of Irish Dance for six years until we moved to a different area of New Jersey.  I've been with the Broesler School of Irish Dance for four years.

2002 Lockie Nidds age 5 at Marie Moore Feis
Photo: Gary Nidds
DW:  Do you have any Irish dance siblings?
Lockie:  My sister, Violette, danced for about three years before she "retired" at the age of 9; she never liked it much! My brothers, Cooper and Oliver, were never interested though we made Oliver try it a little bit as well.

DW:  What is your current Irish dancing goal?
Lockie:  Currently, I would love to get top five at the World Championships of Irish Dance in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Last year I placed tenth, and I've been working harder than I ever have before.

DW:  Any goals for the future that include Irish dance when you're an adult (teaching, performing with a professional group, doing your own thing)?
 Lockie:  Since I was inspired to dance by Riverdance, it's always been a dream of mine to perform in a professional group, but my parents and I don't like the idea of putting off college or a possible job after college for a show. I'm going to try to keep up dancing as much as possible as I grow up, even if I have to take some time off!
Lockie with some of the "Broesler Girls": Brianna Broesler, Shannon O'Gorman, Siobhan Dougherty,
Cassidy Luebbers, Sarah Hall, Megan Smith, and Kelsey Schule
Photo: Laurie Luebbers
DW:  Do you have a favorite feis to compete at other than Majors?
Lockie:  Definitely the Broesler Feis, because all of the dancers who I don't usually get to see come together to support the school and dance without being very competitive with each other. I have Irish dance friends who I rarely see because they're away at college, but the Broesler Feis is a time and place where everyone can catch up and have fun.

DW:  What is your current set dance or favorite set?
Lockie:  My current set dance is the "Blackthorn Stick", but my favorite set is definitely the "Downfall of Paris" at speed 76. It's always been my strongest dance, and I love the way Kevin's material fits with the music.

DW:  Can you tell us about your costume?  Shoes?  Waistcoat? 
Gavin Doherty of Eire Designs made my current one, and I'm getting a new costume for Worlds that Kevin Broesler is having made for me.  I told Kevin that I wanted my costume to be pink and purple like my last one. That was all the input I was allowed to put in; he took care of the rest. I love my costume because I feel like it makes my posture look better and it adds an element of presentation to my dancing that isn’t as prominent when I’m not wearing it. I feel more comfortable on stage in my costume, and I certainly feel like I dance better in my costume. My hardshoes are tan, leather bottom Fay's.

DW:  What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in Irish dance?
Lockie:  Last year I placed 10th at the World Championships of Irish Dance in Dublin, Ireland. The feeling was unreal - it was only my second Worlds, so I didn't expect much. Whenever I'm struggling with something in my dancing, I think of how I danced that day, and I get motivated to fix it.

Drew Lovejoy from McGing and Lockie stranded at Logan International Airport
Photo: Heidi Nidds
DW:  What is your best Irish dance memory?
Lockie:   I think the best "memory" is the night our plane had an emergency landing on the way to Shannon, Ireland and the 2011 All Ireland Irish Dance Championships. There was a fire on board the plane, and we had to land in Boston and spend the night. I was with my friend Drew Lovejoy as well as some girl friends my age from different Irish dance schools. We had pizza at 3 a.m. in the airport and fell asleep on the baggage claim belt as we were waiting for Continental to decide whether we would spend the night or try to take off again. We ended up staying the night, and we had a big practice in the terminal the next day while all the travelers cheered us on. I missed a whole day in Shannon, Ireland, but I will never forget that flight! Sometimes the memories that are, at the time, not necessarily good ones turn out to be the best memories.

Lockie spending the night at the airport in Boston with  Paige Turilli and MaryKate DiChiarra
Photo: Heidi Nidds
DW:  Any injuries that have made you stop or slow down in Irish dance?
Lockie:  I've broken my foot three times: the first time was before All Irelands two years ago, the second time was that summer, and the third time was before Nationals last year. I only had to take a major break after the first time, and it was terrible not being able to go to All Irelands because it would have been my first time. Getting back to dance was difficult because I became terrified of a certain move in my soft shoe. It took about 2 months to get fully back to dancing.

DW:  Other than Irish dance music what is your current favorite song or artist to listen to?
Lockie:  I listen to so many different types of music; I absolutely love Kanye West and Tyler, the Creator, but I listen to a lot of classic rock like Rush, The Who, and Pink Floyd. I also love Andrea Bocelli; I would kill for his voice!

DW:  Do you play any musical instruments?
Lockie:  I've been playing drums for 3 years, and I sing with an all-male a capella group called "The Maroon Men".

DW:  Do you do sports or any other forms of dance?
Lockie:  I love to run, but I have trouble balancing running with my dance schedule, so I wasn't able to do Cross Country or Track this year. I hope to be able to run with my high school next year.

DW:  Any pets?
Lockie:  About four months ago my family got a Norwich Terrier named Maxine. I don't get to see her a lot because I'm always at school or dance, but she's adorable!

2010 Mid-Atlantic Regional Parade of Champions
Blair Croce from McLoughlin School and Lockie Nidds from Broesler
Photo: Gary Nidds
DW:  What is the best advice you can give to boys who want to become champion level Irish dancers?
Lockie:  Relax with your dancing and practicing. From my experience, I've noticed a lot of boys tense up when they dance, myself included, so just let it flow. And use your strength to your advantage!  Confidence and stage presence are the two main components of a champion dancer. To be a champion Irish dancer, you have to own it on stage and put on a show for the judges. It’s all presentation – the judges should enjoy it and want to see more.

Backstage at the 2011 Broesler Recital before performing Riverdance's Thunderstorm
Nick Paulson, Greg Tyler, Kevin Emsworth, Ryan Thornton, and Tim Ryan with Lockie
 Photo:Jean Schule
DW:  Can you tell us about any friendships you've made in Irish dance? Any international friends?
Lockie:  One of my favorite things about Irish dance is the amount of opportunities everyone has to make friends. I meet new people at every major competition I go to, no matter where it is! And what's great specifically about the boys is that everyone gets along. We all like each other and there’s no fighting, so it’s a very positive community. - I can go to England, Ireland, or Scotland and have people to hang out with just like at home. The connections are great, too; just a couple weeks ago my dad got my good friend Greg Tyler an internship at the company he works at. Everyone can rely on each other to be friendly, helpful, and fun! The girls are a definitely a plus, too!

I have also developed great relationships with the other male Irish dancers at my Irish dance school. Even though we’re all different ages, we treat each other equally, and we’re all really close. Some of my favorite memories from dance are with the Broesler guys – in class, competition, and outside of dance, we have tons of fun and we know each other really well. We also give each other advice on everything. For example, Ryan Broesler practices with me and helps me break things down when I need specific help. I feel that I have the most fun and I’m the closest with the older guys in my dance school.

Lockie with Maggie Cook - Half of the winning U16 mixed 4-hand team
Photo: Heidi Nidds
DW:  Do you have any stand-out memories about competing in teams?
Lockie:  I never did a lot of team dancing when I was little, but Kevin has a rule that everyone in the school must do a 4-hand at Oireachtas. Originally, I didn't like the idea of teams because it meant I had to dance an extra day at Oireachtas and go to more practices, but it turned out to be a great experience. My 4-hand last year barely got to practice together, but we had so much fun and we bonded really well. The competition was hilarious because we went into it without having practiced as a team more than once, and we ended up winning the under 16 mixed 4-Hand! I turned out to be very happy about Kevin making everyone do ceili dancing. He always says it unites us as a school, and he knows what he's talking about!

DW:  Anything else you'd like to share?
Lockie:  I love dancing because I love learning and mastering new things, and I love watching other people feel the same passion that I do. Watching the best dancers inspires me to dance like them, and I love learning from more experienced dancers. The best thing about Irish dance is that everyone shares this love for learning and dancing, and that's what makes it so unique. It's truly an amazing thing!

Such pensive young men......This is one of Lockie's favorite photos
Hanging out at a show with friends and fellow-Irish dancers Tim Ryan and Ryan Broesler
Photo: Heidi Nidds
DW:  Please finish this sentence: When I grow up, I want to be........
Lockie:  Occupationally, I want to be an actuary (professional, financial risk analyst), but no matter what, I want to be at a place and job where I can balance all the things I love and maybe even keep up some dancing!

And our last two questions come from Feis America LLC writer Patricia McNamara from a previous, un-published interview with Lockie.

PM:  What’s the biggest piece of advice your TCRG has given you that has helped you stick with the sport throughout the years?
Lockie:  After a year with Kevin, he told me to learn the Drunken Gauger. I picked it up by watching some kids do it in class with help from Ryan Broesler and some of the other dancers. I learned it well and I practiced it more than I’ve ever practiced anything before; the set is really difficult. After about 3 months of practicing, I still couldn’t get the timing right. Rhythm and timing was always my strength, so I was getting frustrated. After I had done it several times in a row at class trying to get the timing right, Kevin sat me down and told me that the timing is like a garbage can lid. He said I wanted to be right in the middle of the lid, which is perfect timing, but I was on the edge. He told me to do the set again and think of my timing right in the center of the lid. The timing was perfect, and now I can always fix my timing when it’s off. I never get nervous or frustrated about timing anymore because I can always imagine the garbage can lid and get it perfectly, all thanks to Kevin.

PM:  Do you think boys have it harder or easier than girls when it comes to Irish dance? Why?
Lockie:  We both have pros and cons. My physical therapist told me that boys have more mass to carry when we move around, which means we use energy quicker than girls do, thus making it harder to dance. However, girls have heavier costumes and many more competitors in each competition. Either way, we all have to work hard and we all have fun!

Thank-you, Lockie for taking the time to answer all of these questions!  I wish you great success in reaching all of your goals in Irish dance and in life.  We'll all be cheering you on as you head off to the World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast in just a few short days. 

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