I can’t remember why I stopped dancing, but now I never want to stop. Since I was three to about 12 years old I took ballet and a year of tap in Northern Virginia. My last two years of dancing were with the Christina Heimlich International School of Dance and I especially loved the solo stuff. I re-started my dancing practice last fall when I joined Rince Go Halainn in North Raleigh, one of North Carolina’s only non-competitive dance schools. And get this, my teacher, Catrina Mineo, noticed that my folk dancing never left my body—it seems my moves were imprinted from 30 something years ago. That’s pretty cool and it gives me a great deal of hope that I can master this Irish dance thing.
I want to dance to feel more connected to my body again. As a writer, I’m all in my head most days and I’m totally ignoring what my body is doing. And within the content of my writing, I usually ignore anything that has to do with someone’s body. As an aspiring musician, Irish dancing is based on beats and it’s all about your timing. Plus Irish dancing is great exercise and I’m keeping my mind sharp learning all of the dance moves.
With Catrina’s encouragement and support, I’ve been in three pub shows at Tir Na Nog and am practicing feverishly for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I’ve got my school dress, wig, tights, bloomers and shoes all lined up and ready. My family thinks nothing of me doing butterflies, hop jumps, light jigs, reels and slip jigs in the kitchen. My six-year-old daughter, Erin, scours You Tube to help me find Irish dance instruction videos and “how-tos” for putting on your wig. Turns out you need lots and lots of bobby pins and a doughnut (I used this guy in ballet class!).
I had originally wanted Erin to Irish dance because I thought with her name she’d fit right in and I wanted to see her in all of those pretty dresses. But after a demo at another school’s open house, Erin adamantly said “No!” She’s taking singing lessons instead. I had first learned about some of the local dance schools around North Raleigh 14 years ago and quickly investigated ones that had adult day classes. I found Catrina and was off.
Anyone can Irish dance as long as you’re willing to listen and learn. Some coordination helps, but you don’t have to be a kid! And you certainly don’t have to be Irish (I’m Scottish on my dad’s side—the wrong side, by the way).
It’s fun and when you’re dancing you forget about everything except the moves and the music. Erin Go Bragh!