Taaliyah Bates, a 12-year-old blind girl from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, has learned to Irish dance under the guidance of teacher Rebecca Kane, inspired by her love of Ireland and the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York."
Taaliayh learned to Irish dance in just four weeks before she performed at a local event to switch on Christmas lights, the new Irish dancer's proud mum Ellie told the Sunday World.
Ellie said Taaliyah's teacher Rebecca Kane, a former British, world, and All-Ireland Irish dance champ, "really put in the effort with Taaliyah."
"It all started with 'The Fairytale of New York,'" Ellie told the Sunday World. "Taaliyah loved it, she loves Irish music and is obsessed with Ireland – she doesn’t stop talking about it!”
12-year-old Taaliyah told Huddersfield Hub: “Irish dance is very vibrant with lots of claps and stomps and now I’ve moved onto The Blackbird [a traditional set piece] I feel I’m managing fine.
“I just love Irish history and culture, so much so that I’m now teaching myself Irish songs on my keyboard. I learn by listening and then recreating the notes. I’d love to go to Ireland some day.”
Last day of my Irish dance holiday club today and this is my performance to fairy tale of New York 😁 can’t wait for the rest of my lessons on Saturdays onwards and upwards 😁Posted by Taaliyahs Irish Dancing on Thursday, August 25, 2022
Kane, who featured Taaliyah in the 'success stories' on her Irish dance school's website, explains that Taaliyah came to Kane Irish Dance as part of the first-ever Department of Education Free School meal Haf 2022 summer holiday project in association with New Direction Services.
"This project enabled Taaliyah to take her first steps in Irish Dancing and thusly a new direction in life as an Irish Dancer," Kane wrote on YouTube.
"Her next goal is to become a competitive Irish Dancer just like all the other dancers.
"Taaliyah's back story is inspirational and through a life of diversity being blind she doesn't let anything define her.
"I have full belief that Taaliyah will excel in competitive Irish Dance as her passion burns bright."
Her mother said that while Taaliyah does not have Irish roots, it's always been her dream to visit Ireland.
“She can draw the complete outline of Northern Ireland,” Ellie said. “And she has taught herself to play Irish songs on the keyboard.
"She has always been into music and the keyboard, but Irish dancing is her first big achievement – she has never done anything like it before.
"She’s absolutely amazing,” her proud mum gushed. “She doesn’t let anything bother her. She has a fire in her.”
Kane added: "My philosophy is that nothing is impossible.
"Taaliyah certainly does not let her blindness define her.
"She’s a dancing fighter who will overcome everything to succeed.
"There is a real grit about her.
"Irish dancing is certainly not that easy to learn.
"When she came through our doors she needed assistance walking but is now doing rhythms that some youngsters can’t do after four or five years of Irish dance.
"You couldn’t ask for a better pupil, she’s so inspiring.
"You simply can’t teach that kind of passion – it comes from within.
"It’s something that’s quite rare."
You can follow Taaliyah and her inspirational Irish dance journey here on Facebook.
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