Forum: Irish / Irish - Adult Dancers

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Questions about adult Irish dancers
By dancinginflorida
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:42 AM

I'm very encouraged to find this message board as I didn't realize there were so many adult Irish dancers out there! I'm very curious about others on this board. Were you dancers when you were younger? Did anyone start as an adult?

I started Irish dance when I was a senior in high school and loved it. I could only dance for a year since I loved away for college and there was no school around to continue. Fifteen years later, I have a daughter that's now in Irish dance and after getting into the ID world again, I'm remembering how much I absolutely love it. I figured it's never too late to learn what I always wanted to learn, so I'm starting lessons on Saturday with my daughter's teachers. After three kids and getting very out of shape, I'm a bit worried!

I'm also curious about competing. Although I at first never thought of doing such a thing as an adult, seeing you all is inspiring! At the very few feiseanna I've been to with my daughter this past year in Florida, I've noticed there were only one or two adults in competition. How do you advance? Or are there others with more adults?

27 Replies to Questions about adult Irish dancers

re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 02:03 PM
Hi! and welcome back to Irish dance. :)

I started as an adult when i was 38 and my daughter was 7 and starting classes. I loved it. I started in a recreational class, then switched to a competitive class. I danced in adult competitions in the Southern Region until I got into PW and the adult numbers started dropping to two or three dancers in PW. My TC agreed to me dropping down which I did when I was 46. I have been dancing with the (usually) 16&overs ever since. I have had TONS of motivation to improve. I have two dances in PW and two still in novice with multiple second places (like 9, in my HP :( ) My dtr has since retired, but I just keep going (except for breaking my stupid foot)

Take it easy when you start. Your body and feet will have to ease back into it. You are older and won't bounce back from abusing your feet as easily as when you danced before. Get ghillies with poron padding under the balls of your feet. It helps a lot. A lot of shoes have those now. I know Hullachans and Fays celtic choice do.

Feising as an adult can be a lot of fun! Its so great talking to other dancers who have a lot of stuff to do (work, kids, housework, etc) as well as practice dance. They understand the struggle it can be sometimes. Usually at a feis, even though I dance with the kids, I go hang out with the adults and cheer them on.

Don't be concerned about being in a class with other kids (if that is what your set up will be) You might be an oddity at first, but after a bit, the kids will start to think of you as just another dancer in the class.

Welcome back and happy dancing!! Let us know how your first class goes. :D
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By MissSlipjig
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 03:30 PM
Hi!

Great questions and I will enjoy reading the responses!

I had a few private Irish dance lessons here and there starting at age 29 (my teacher was in and out of the country) but didn't start regular weekly classes until age 31. I had never done Irish dance previously but I did have two years of ballet/tap at 9-10 years old.

Began competing about 2 years after starting the regular classes and my teachers allowed me to compete in &overs. I got out of advanced beginner easily, but novice has taken a while. It took 2 and a half years before finally getting a dance into Prizewinner. I now have 3 dances in Prizewinner. I have been pushing myself very hard and also began working with a personal trainer once per week a year and half ago.

In the beginning, it took a while for my feet to get adjusted to Irish dance - I developed a swollen right foot (due to tendonitis) shortly after starting soft shoe and had to stop dancing for around 2 to 3 months. Then when I started hard shoe, I developed the same problem in the same foot and had to stop dancing for another 2 to 3 months. I've also had 3 ankle sprains - none recently though as I've been strengthening my ankles on a regular basis with therabands.

I was in terrible shape when I first started and my muscles could barely get me through one jig step. Also kept losing my balance. It was depressing but I love Irish dance and just told myself that if I kept practicing, my dancing would get better. And it did!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By MissSlipjig
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 03:34 PM
Forgot to say, I am now 36.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By hannicamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 05:00 PM
I started Irish dance at 23, and I compete now! Sadly the most amount of people in a competition I have been too has been 4 (including me). I am now 24.

I started ballet at 18 after I moved to college, before that i just read books and drew pictures.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By Kirvin3member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 08:31 PM
I started dancing when I was 30, never took Irish Dance as a kid. I'm turning 40 in October. I compete, though I usually don't travel too far (or to areas where we can stay with family). I have found the best places for adult competition are newar New York City, Eastern PA (the Celtic Fling Feis usually has 10-20 adults in each level - they do beginner/advanced beginner and novice/prizewinner), and Maryland area. I know Nation's Capitol Feis usually has a pretty large number of adults. I competed in the Mid-Atlantic Region Oireachtas (regional competition) back in November - 60 adults in the Adult Traditional Set competition! Unfortunately not every region has adults in their Oireachtas yet.
Technically you still need to have 5 competitors to advance, but it can also be up to your TCRG if you consistantly have few competitors.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By highlanddncr
On Mon Apr 21, 2014 09:35 PM
I grew up dancing, although not Irish. I did ballet through college and also did Scottish Highland. I continued with highland competition and took my teacher's exam. My friend (and also now ex cousin in law but still dear friend) did irish and going to a feis to watch her in college peaked my interest. I started Irish at 24, took classes and competed for 2-3 years and then stopped due to work. Fast forward ten years and I decided to start up again last year at 34. Honestly I find it a lot less hard stamina wise than Highland (I still dance with a band and teach but don't compete) since the dances are much shorter but a lot harder in terms of intricate movement. And my hardshoe is a mess...

The DC area has a nice pocket of adults if you are willing to travel. There are exceptions in the lower levels. We finally just put my hornpipe and treble jig in novice since there was never more than 1-2 people in the competitions. But at the novice and pw level, we generally have pretty good numbers. Another dancer from my school and I went down to the Orlando feis last Feb and it was just us and two other dancers in different groups (although it was very nicely run and fun).

Most of the adults in my area are very friendly and support each other. Come do a DC feis this summer :)
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By irishdancer80
On Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:16 AM
I am 34 and started dancing 4 years ago. Never danced and dance prior to that. My 13 yr old daughter and 7 yr old son dance now so I have stopped competing as much due to getting them ready. Love dancing and hope more adults continue.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By HBwahinemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:52 AM
I started dancing when I turned 40 when I had a DS and DD invoived in it. They both stopped when high school started (one was champ level too), but I'm still going. I had thought it looked like fun early on, but was intimidated to start. When I finally saw adult beginners at a feis, I thought "I could do that!" and it's been 8 years now. I was and still am athletic, but was never a dancer when I was young. I've been a prizewinner adult for a while and still love competing. The social part is half the fun - seeing fellow competitor friends from other schools at the feises. I considered "dropping down" until I found that no school around here would let adults do it, but now, I'm not sure I'd have that kind of time.
Last fall, our school sent an adult ceili team to the Oireachtas and that was great fun. Having gone through Oireachtas several times with kids and now I got to do my own "O".
Try to get some other moms to start dance class with you, selling it as a fun workout (it is!). Don't think about competing until you have a few dances down and then see if you want to.
It's alway great to have another adult dancing!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By GannTheGloriousmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Apr 24, 2014 04:22 PM
I'm 25, didn't dance at all until I started ballet just after graduating college, started ID about a year and a half ago, and I'm Advanced beginner. I compete, but yeah, in my area there aren't usually many dancers. I still really enjoy it, even though it means I might take years to get all my dances in novice!

At my school, I think we have around 10ish adults and maybe 6 or 7 who compete. Modest numbers compared to the kids, but there are always a bunch of us at the local feisanna!

Some adults from my school will also be doing ceili and trad set at SRO!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By chevrechevalmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Apr 24, 2014 07:25 PM
First of all, HOORAY FOR YOU! Please enjoy your classes. There are several talented, adult level dancers in the Florida schools. When you do get ready to enter a feis, just post a note here. Most of them check this board. Now, they are Novice and PW dancers, for the most part. But, if other people know there will be numbers at a feis, they will be more likely to attend. Also, please consider dancing with your children in the Parent and Child competitions. There are few things that compare with dancing at a feisanna with your children. My husband and I both enjoy dancing with our daughters.

Congratulations on beginning your journey into the world of Irish Dancing!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By dancinginflorida
On Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:06 AM
Thanks for your replies everybody! I enjoyed hearing about your involvement in ID.

My first class is tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how it goes. I've already given myself a blister trying to practice. I haven't worn those shoes in a very long time! It's a private class since I'm the only adult. Maybe I can recruit if all goes well.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By irishdancer80
On Mon Apr 28, 2014 06:17 AM
where are you located in florida?
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By dancinginflorida
On Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:13 PM
I'm in Southwest Florida.

Class was great! I think some of the other moms are thinking about it too, now! :)
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By irishdancer80
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 06:22 AM
I am in Southeast Florida. Keep me posted if you plan to do some feises. I have a few others in my class that are beginner and advanced beginner. Good Luck
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By dancinginflorida
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:21 AM
Awesome! I just looked at your pictures - I was at Hutchinson Island too! Maybe after a while I will get the nerve to do a feis. :) I see you have dancers too... how does that work? When are the adult competitions? I would certainly never be able to miss my daughter dancing. Maybe I will see you around! Will you be in Tampa in September?
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By irishdancer80
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:28 AM
Each feis is different. I have two kids my 7 yr old son who is an advanced beginner. and a 13 yr old girl who is prizewinner. I have not competed in about a year because my daughter is at the point that I just want to focus on her.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 02:42 PM
I competed for 7 years while my dtr also competed. We started competing at the same time, from when she was 10 to 17. I never missed a dance of my own, and I only missed seeing one of hers, though I did watch one when I was lined up to dance (music hadn't started yet) and she was dancing on the next stage over!

When she was 10 (at our 3rd feis) and she was dancing downstairs and I was upstairs, another mom was her designated feis mom just in case I didn't make it back down in time. But I did. It has worked out just fine. She has since retired, and I haven't. :)

It was a great way to have something in common with her and to get to go places with her. And since I was a dancer too, my comments after she danced (especially if she messed up) weren't "you did fine" when she knew she didn't, because I knew she didn't too, and could support her as only another dancer could!

Enjoy the ride!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By literallysame
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 08:48 PM
I'm 23 - I danced when I was younger, though middle school, didn't care too much about it and thought it wasn't cool so I quit. Two years ago, I moved cities and decided I needed a form of exercise that I would love - and this time, I fell in love with Irish dance.

I decided in January of this year to compete again and that the best place for me, as I wanted a challenge and was advised by my TC and his assistant, to do the &overs.

I found myself extremely motivated to succeed and am now feising regularly. It feels a little awkward being old and explaining to non-irish dance folks that i'm not totally the only adult in the &overs. But I love competing, I'm doing well, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By GeorgeTomasevich
On Tue May 06, 2014 03:45 PM
I started taking lessons at age 68. I am now 71 and have
competed in 16 feiseanna, most recently Feile Denver. I am all over the levels, from beginner in single jig to prizewinner in slip jig. In the past, I competed in bicycle racing, and I did noncompetitive speed skating and cross-country and downhill telemark skiing.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By dancinginflorida
On Mon May 12, 2014 11:17 AM
GeorgeTomasevich that is most certainly inspiring! Never too old!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By FluffyNJ
On Wed May 14, 2014 01:50 PM
I am proud everyone is staying with Irish step dancing. I am new beginner adult male dancer age 54. I danced various styles over the years. Last year I took aerial silks and static trapeze. I danced at two Feis (Big Apple and Lynn Academy Spring Feis) I volunteered at Big Apple after to set up and at my school for their Feis.

Further, I like to hula hoop and use the flow wand. What I learned is find a private area to stretch, yoga, and warm up away from the families camping out in the gyms and hallways. They do not understand why I like to use the hula hoop or yoga before dancing. also, I made my own kilt for dancing. I find the kilt a nice costume for myself because it is cooler to dance in and fits my personality and heritage.

At the two events I participated in I tried the essay and Irish soda bread contests. I like to try out different things. When I danced my first beginner Light Reel one of the parents told me to dance my heart out. So I did. I totally enjoyed dancing on stage before an audience. It is like giving your first speech at a Toast Master's event or giving a presentation at work. What I love to is meet the adult competitors, cheer for them, and being the a nice competitor.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By micmac1313
On Fri Jun 06, 2014 09:16 PM
So happy to hear you're getting back into Irish dancing! I started dancing when I was 7, only because my older sister's club soccer coach told her team they needed to take Irish dance lessons--there was an Irish dancer on the team, and she had such quick feet--so that the rest of the team could improve their quickness as well. Anyways, my mom enrolled both my sister and I in a dance class. My sister didn't like it so much, but I LOVED it! I stuck with it, and danced competitively for about 7 years. I quit because I was playing soccer 6 days a week, and couldn't make it to my dance classes. I am now 19, and am taking classes again once I finish my finals (I'm in college). I'm very competitive, so I'd like to try competing again; but even if I don't, it doesn't matter. I just absolutely love dancing:) Don't be worried about your lessons; I did jazz dancing for a couple of years after I quit Irish, and there was a man in my class who was about 40. Everyone was so busy dancing themselves that we didn't really pay attention to what he was doing. Plus, it was kind of fun having someone new in class! Good luck and I hope you love it!!
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By criosamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Jun 07, 2014 03:48 PM
I started out going to the social ceili dances before finding a school that had adult classes in May 2000 - I turned 22 that summer. started competing as an adult, dropped down to 15 & Over in 2002 (I think), moved to another state and switched schools in 2004, stopped competing in early 2007. switched schools again in fall 2010 after my TC passed away, but the timing didn't fit my schedule. took a break from competitive classes until this April.

I've stayed involved though even when not dancing - I volunteer assisting with ceili dances at Irish Fest, help out at the local feiseanna, and have been on-and-off active with an adult performance group up here since 2005 or 2006 - more active year-round in the early years.

part of the reason I returned to lessons was because I found out our school's adults are putting together an 8-hand for Oireachtas, and that's been something I wanted to be involved in since I started dancing (at this point I'm one of the alternates).

when I started, I loved traveling to feiseanna, so the lack of competitors was a big reason for dropping down to the &Over age groups. I think if I were to return to competition now, I'd stick to local feiseanna (we have 5-6 in my city throughout the year), and so I'd be less bothered by the small numbers.
re: Questions about adult Irish dancers
By GirlGeekPremium member
On Sun Jun 08, 2014 06:18 PM
Hi, Criosa-

(Sorry to post this publicly; I haven't posted enough to initiate private messages yet...)

Are you in Minneapolis/St. Paul? If so, I'd love to catch up on what's been happening up there--I used to dance there several years ago, and I really miss the amazing Irish scene there.

Cheers,

-Stephanie
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