Forum: Irish / Irish - Beginners

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You're NEVER too old! (karma: 34)
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jul 30, 2004 10:40 PM
Made sticky by MIClogger (28613) on 2004-08-01 20:52:17

There have been a number of messages in the past from anxious members asking “Am I too old to start Irish dancing?” Somehow, these poor posters think that just because they haven’t been enrolled in Irish dance classes since they were old enough to walk, they won’t be able to even try their hand at dancing. And that’s completely false!

There are plenty of true stories out there heralding the remarkable progress of older beginners. Two examples come to mind. Joe Smith, who studied with Eoin O’Maoileidigh and the famed Trinity school, started at twelve years old, and enjoyed many years as a champion, Worlds competitor, and dancer in Trinity’s touring show. And, love him or hate him, Michael Flatley began dancing at eleven, an age that many people thought was too late to start, and he became the first American to win Worlds.

In some areas, older beginners have an advantage over the itty-bitties. Here are a few things I’ve discovered in my dance journey:

1. You have a better capacity to remember steps. It took one of the champs dancers at my school almost a year to learn our easy reel when she started at six (and that’s no lie). I had absolutely no dance experience, and it took me about two months. However, it took an adult, a former ballet dancer, about that time to learn three dances. As a teen or older beginner, you can recognize patterns more readily, remember movements better, and pick up steps faster.

2. You can better understand your teacher’s words of guidance about posture, movements, etc. At seven, “turn out from the hip” might not mean much to you, but at seventeen it’s so much easier to comprehend. On the flip side, communicating problems to your teacher is simple and not so much of a mystery.

3. Older dancers in the classroom add gravity. A herd of seven and eight year olds, and only one teacher, is almost always a recipe for disaster. With the addition of a few adults, or even teenagers, the younger kids have someone to whom they have to be accountable, and a role model! Besides, younger kids are just plain fun. They’re always impressed when someone older wants to talk to them, and it’s beneficial to YOU to have friends of all ages...after all, kids are people too!

4. It’s easier to work towards a goal. When you were smaller, dreams were often impractical and vague, and you were unsure of how to get to point A to point B. At this point, you can work out exactly what you need to do in order to attain that goal.

And face it, Irish dancing is just plain fun. Whether you’re eight, eighteen, or eighty, it doesn’t matter. Age has nothing to do with enjoyment. If you don’t become world champion—big deal. Every kid who starts in diapers won’t get to stand atop the podium, either. Experiencing the magic of being at a ceili for the first time, feeling the music rush through your veins like fire, or spinning in a dance around with a friend until you both dissolve into dizzy giggles isn’t an age issue. Neither is feeling like you’re a part of something important, something much bigger than yourself, that’s been carried down for centuries by people you never knew. Somehow, though, you believe they’re proud that people outside the borders of their island have the same beat in their feet and proud spirit.

And believe me, it’s ok that you didn’t get into Irish dancing sooner—you’ll more than make up for it reading EVERYTHING online about it. :)

Everyone, enjoy your journey.


228 Replies to You're NEVER too old!

re: You're NEVER too old!
By DarcysReelmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Jul 31, 2004 08:57 AM
karma to you Dani! great post!!!!
re: You're NEVER too old! (karma: 2)
By IrishDancer21
On Sat Jul 31, 2004 10:34 AM
Oh wow Dani, WONDERFUL post! Definitely Karma-worthy! ;) I must add that I started at 16 and have no regrets! I will admit I have some problems with technique because of my age and no previous dance experience, but it's nothing that practice and hard work won't fix. After my first week at Trinity a lot of the parents were like "Oh you're just now starting? Well..." and then they'd tell me all of the things that Dani just mentioned. I have just one to add...

5. When you start at an older age it usually means that you are already very motivated to work hard at it because it was your decision to begin in the first place. There are some young girls in my class who are forced into it by their parents and don't like it. I've also seen kids who want to do it at a young age but change their mind within a year because hey, their kids and that happens (it happened to ME a lot, when I was young I wanted to be a drummer in a band, then a soccer player, then a baseball player, then a basketball player, then a hockey player, the list goes on!)

Anyway, thanks for the great post Dani!
re: You're NEVER too old! (karma: 3)
By Saoirse
On Mon Aug 02, 2004 01:54 AM
That is one of the nicest posts on that subject I've ever seen. Very encouraging, good it was made a sticky.
As you have already stated, adults are by nop means SLOWER learners.
Many adults just enjoy making age an excuse.
Yesterday it happened to me AGAIN. I was at our workshop where people from our school and ther schools in ermany were attending. And a girl from the other school starts talking to me and says : Oh well, if you start as an adult there is no point of really working HARD, because you can't become really good anyway, and you can just see it as a hobby, but there's no point being ambitious or stuff is there?
My reaction was simple: I looked straight into her eys and said: "Why?"
I just kept staring at her and she was totally taken aback, because of course she had been expecting me to agree. At first she didn't know what to say. (The most enjoyable moment!)
So of course she started giving me all the excuses: Adults are slow learners, no time to practise gotta go to work, are less flexible( That was the first time I hasd hear that excuse brought up, ever heard of stretching?). And to everything I had my usual answers:
Adults are by no means slower learners, and it is PROVEN by the newest discoveries in brain science that adults if challenged the same way as kids, begin to produce new connections in their brains to pick up new movements.
Adults have to work, yes, but adults need less sleep. Fact. 8 hours of sleep, 8-10 hours of work, say 5 days a week, leaves how much time for other activities sch as eating and socializing and dance practise? Lots.
Flexibility? Oh come on how desperate for excuses not to dance harder are you?
I'll challenge any 8-year old kid with the same amount of lessons as I've had. No fear. Adults can dance just for fun, but I wish they'd stop making excuses, pretending they'd love to work hard and become good but CAN'T. Then DO IT JUST FOR FUN! THAT's FINE! But don't pretend otherwise. And don't discourage others to believe things are impossible. Your aspirations are your limitations. Everything is impossibly until the person with the guts to do it turns up.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Mon Aug 02, 2004 07:49 AM
I've taken class with one girl who CONSTANTLY came to the lessons and put herself down - EVERY WEEK. I felt like asking her why in the world she was taking Irish dancing if she didn't think she could do it at all. It was really annoying. =S

Good point, Mandy. Karma to you for it!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Nezie
On Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:46 PM
Thanks so much for this post! Pefect timing... I decided I'm going to start Irish dancing again (I've taken a 2.5 year hiatus). Up until I read this, I kept telling myself that I wouldn't be much good in feisanna anymore, so I shouldn't get my hopes up. Well that notion sure shattered! Thanks! ^_^
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Ca_danseresje
On Mon Aug 02, 2004 02:35 PM
VERY true post.

I think adults are discouraged not only by themselves, but also a lot of teachers will not take them in or take them seriously. In Ireland they are laughed at!
Anyway, no reason to not do it. My teacher has been very honest with me and told me "you will never make it to a show, because by the time you will be able to dance like that, you will be too old". I started at 19....
Then again, had I practiced an hour every day, taking two classes a week, I would have been good enough at 24.....I think even she is surprised I ever made it this far.

I also heard stories about a woman in the USA who was 21 when she started and three years later, went to the worlds.

I must say I have come further then I ever dreamed, and I did not really gut myself to get there. This has shown me that - at 24- I still have years of dancing and improving before me. My teacher is 36, and she can still dance many of the Open dancers in England off the stage. People seem to forget that is often true. Teachers do not compete anymore, but are still really good dancers.

I will keep dancing forever, till my heart stops and my feet break, but I will NEVER give it up.
Wow that is so encouraging!
By Irish_dncr
On Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:09 AM
I think that is an amazing post.
I started dancing when I was 10 and people said even that was too late! I only started fesing when I was nearly 13 and Im 14 now and will be moving into pre-open in Janruary! (I think pre-open is like prelims in America).So boo hiss to everyone who puts you down! I just love Irish Dance!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Tigerlily
On Sun Aug 15, 2004 04:00 PM
Bravo! >>karma for joo
By saoirse79
On Tue Aug 17, 2004 04:51 PM
i started at 20 - yes 20, a few school were not keen to take me on, one did now 4 years later i am in opne have been to getbrits all irelands etc, im getting there if i can anyone can!
Talk about encouragement!
By hotpinkcandee
On Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:49 PM
Wow! that came at the right time! I have always loved dancing, but aside from ballet, I have never really gotten into it. Now I know its never too late! Thanks soooOoO much and Im sure il be starting soon...if not AT a school, definitely for enjoyment. Thanks heaps Dani. Luv F!oNa :)
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Elle14
On Mon Aug 23, 2004 05:53 AM
Great post, i'm 26 and have only been dancing 10 months i had my first feis this summer and got 2 2nds a 3rd and a 4th (although there were only max 3/4 in each class!). Karma for Danni and Saoirse very motivating!!
Elle XX
re: You're NEVER too old!
By dance46
On Fri Aug 27, 2004 11:22 PM
This may enlighten some moms who are putting dance shoes on their new borns instea of a diaper and hospital monitor LOL. i agree. . It is great to start anyting at a young age if the child can comprehend. However, an older person and teens can definetly pick very quickly. We are never too old to learn anything especially DANCE.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By dance46
On Sat Aug 28, 2004 10:43 PM
Very well spoken. you should be proud of yourself. you love to dance and isnt that awesome
re: You're NEVER too old!
By dancin_spirit
On Mon Aug 30, 2004 10:39 AM
You are soooo right your never too old to dance!even if you dont compete
re: You're NEVER too old!
By techballet
On Thu Sep 02, 2004 07:20 AM
I have always wanted to learn about Irish Dancing but I feel at my age it may be too difficult
re: You're NEVER too old!
By reelcanadiangirlPremium member
On Thu Sep 02, 2004 08:05 PM
Wow, I love this post. It is so true! Well said.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Natz2
On Thu Sep 09, 2004 02:51 AM
wow karma to all of you. I felt a bit nervous about phoning round since i'm nineteen. Now i really want to take it up i'm going to phone the schools later.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Dance_Angel2
On Sat Sep 11, 2004 03:40 PM
I'm 15, and I'm taking my first ID class on Wednesday. I have taken jazz tap and lyrical for ten years and I had taken ballet when I was little but I decided I didn't like my teacher so I quit ballet. While I wish I had kept with the ballet, I am glad my mom didn't make me stick with it when I didn't enjoy myself. I'm now also beginning ballet once again. As for never being too old to dance? It couldn't be more true. My dad always says that if you keep learning new things, you capacity for learning will stick around longer, because you will be exercising that part of your brain.

re: You're NEVER too old!
By bobbi712
On Sun Sep 12, 2004 04:25 PM
Great Post. I started when I was 9 and I still felt like I started too late, but now I have realized that it doesn't matter what age you start at.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By ShadowLunaCatPremium member
On Sun Sep 12, 2004 10:46 PM
How 'bout 40 - ?
re: You're NEVER too old!
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Sep 13, 2004 06:19 AM
Absolutely! There are plenty of adult dancers at my school who get a lot of enjoyment out of Irish dancing--and it's all about enjoying what you do, isn't it?

By GhilleGhurl
On Mon Sep 13, 2004 01:51 PM
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Eireannmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Sep 13, 2004 06:48 PM
Edited by crew85 (106246) on 2004-09-13 18:45:53
I'm 19...I started less than a year ago. I've been to one feis, where I decided to compete against the kids (ie 15&O, 13&o). I placed all my dances top 3, and won a trophy! During that year, I was in my first year of University, training on the rowing crew, and working. You're never too old, too busy, too ANYTHING to do something you love!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By MilkMaid
On Sat Sep 18, 2004 03:08 PM
Great post. My dd started at 11, which was old for a beginner. She got 2 novice firsts her first year of feising and got the rest her second year. But better than the quick moves through the levels is that she has found something that she is passionate about. I just think its great to find something you love that is so positive.
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