McManus Irish Dance taps into the Irish American network to raise awareness and support for charity Solace House during the coronavirus pandemic
Earlier this year, IrishCentral asked for nominations for our new Irish Dance School of the Month series. While we’re delighted to be receiving so many nominations, this month we reached out to McManus Irish Dance to feature them after they took the initiative to raise awareness for a charity who may need a special helping hand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyone in the Irish dance world knows that Irish dancers and their teachers have not only taken to going online for classes, but have kept each other motivated and encouraged through different online “challenges” and performances that circulate on social media.
Irish dance teacher Tricia McManus, however, decided to use the "challenges" for a bit of good in raising awareness for the charity Solace House, an offshoot of the Irish charity Pieta House, which provides free counseling for anyone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or suicidal distress, as well as those who engage in self-harm, or have been bereaved by suicide.
Solace House operates out of the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, where McManus also hosts some of her dance classes.
Great first practice this eve with most of the students who are dancing at the New York Mets Irish Heritage Night next...Publiée par McManus Irish Dance LLC sur Mercredi 25 juillet 2018
As the coronavirus pandemic began to take grip in New York City, Solace House issued an appeal for donations to keep their vital services up and running for those in need: “As anxiety, depression, fear and isolation peaks, the demand for our services has reached an all-time high and our team is working around the clock to provide support to those who need it.
“At the same time, our ability to continue to offer these life-saving services is in jeopardy. Our annual budget is made up almost entirely from donations, and the sad reality is that our biggest annual fundraiser, the Solace Sunrise Walk, is likely to be postponed or perhaps even canceled for this year.”
*** PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE READ, SOLACE HOUSE NEEDS YOUR HELP *** At this very difficult and uncertain time, Solace House...Publiée par Solace House sur Jeudi 19 mars 2020
McManus told IrishCentral: “My heart broke for them, I see all the people who come in and out of their doors. All the programs are fabulous, why can’t we help them?”
So she did. Harnessing the power of social media, McManus Irish Dance kicked off the #StepsForSolace online challenge which sees Irish dancers video themselves doing a step and tagging Solace House to raise awareness for the charity.
Hey Solace House - you guys are so good to everyone in need & we’d like to do our part to help YOU! —Calling ALL dancers...Publiée par McManus Irish Dance LLC sur Jeudi 19 mars 2020
McManus, who said that the challenge “doubles down as keeping kids active and staying positive," told IrishCentral how she is hoping to the challenge will spread throughout the famously charitable Irish and Irish American community in Queens.
#StepsForSolace isn’t just a challenge for Irish dancers, its a call to all Irish and Irish Americans for a bit of support in a charity’s time of need.
About McManus Irish Dance
Tricia McManus, born to Irish parents and raised in New Jersey, grew up Irish dancing for Peter Smith, an icon in the CLRG Irish dance community.
My legend of a dance teacher- the one and only Peter J. Smith. Always missed and loved- thank you for all you did and how you changed so many lives 💙 love you. #RIP #5yearsgone #missyouPubliée par McManus Irish Dance LLC sur Vendredi 28 décembre 2018
In 2013, she launched her ‘Jiggy Tots’ program, which is described as “a pre-Irish dance & movement class, uniquely tailored for ages 2-4.”
From there, it all snowballed, McManus says. What is now a bustling school with nearly 100 students across several locations started off “a little small and slow."
“We didn’t mind," McManus says looking back, "we weren’t trying to push it too much in the beginning. It was completely for fun, cultural, and non-competitive."
While McManus, who teaches alongside Christina Blum and Erin Flynn, initially intended her school to be non-competitive, she realized the motivating effect that competition can sometimes have. McManus Irish Dance went on to register with Rince Tuatha Nua (RTN), an open platform competitive Irish dance organization that launched in 2013.
While Irish dancers can wear costumes at RTN competitions, they do not wear wigs or fake tans, something McManus says she was attracted to, along with the organization’s “low key” approach.
Lucky teacher! 💙☘️ #mcmanusirishdance #irishdancenyc #dancefun #irishdance #feis #luckyteacher #bestkids #dancefamilyPubliée par McManus Irish Dance LLC sur Dimanche 16 juin 2019
McManus says only about a third of her students choose to compete, while majority do Irish dancing for fun, cultural, or performance-based aspects. At the heart of McManus Irish Dance is an appreciation for all aspects of Irish culture, not just dance. McManus proudly tells IrishCentral that most of her students are also involved in Irish sport and or music, and that her school’s performances, be it at dinner dances or in pubs, are typically accompanied by live Irish music.
Further, McManus was one of the founders of the successful Queens Irish Heritage Night, now entering - what she hopes, given the current circumstances - will be its third year. While her dancers perform at the event hosted at Hunter's Point in Queens, the evening also features live Irish music and sport and is free to attend.
McManus Irish Dance, while operating largely online at the moment as NYC is largely being told to stay at home, offers classes in four locations in New York City: Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, and the Upper Westside of Manhattan. You can learn more about McManus Irish Dance on the school’s website, Facebook, and Instagram.
To learn more about Solace House and to support its mission, visit its website here.
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