Forum: Irish / Irish - Beginners

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By Scott06
On Mon Oct 16, 2006 05:03 PM
Hi Dani, I hope all is well.

I read your article regarding dancers being too old to start. Well i am 21 years old and i wish to take up dancing. From your opinion am i wasting my time, i mean how long would it take me to reach a high level? I go to the gym alot and am very fit. I always work out on my stamina as well as various weights on my legs. Your advice would be great, i lokk forward to hearing from you soon,
starting a bit older
By rttew
On Mon Oct 16, 2006 07:31 PM
Edited by rttew (136970) on 2006-10-16 20:15:32 mispells

I am not Dani, (although I know her!), but I thought I might be able to help you with your decision to start dancing at age 21. I started when I was your age (now 31) and competed for the better part of 8 years. I had never danced before in my life prior to taking Irish dance. I was a quick study, picking up my first four easy dances within about two months of starting. I kept learning whatever I could and would go home and practice 2hrs a day, all week then stay for 2 classes beginner and intermediate at my dance school on Sundays. After competing in adults for about a year, I, with my teacher's advice moved into and over's. From then on, I placed and or won nearly everyone of the prelim and then eventually most of the open championships I ever entered. Only on two occations did I not take home a trophy although I would still place respectably. I went on to win 4 prelim firsts (only needed two in a year) 2 seconds, a third, and a fourth. From there, I won my first, and second open championship, second in my third, and first in my fourth open championship event. There were other championship solo awards, 4 firsts, 3 seconds, a 2 thirds along the way too. Majors include: 2nd at my first oireachtas, 4th at my second O(missed one of my rounds! but still placed well) and finally the senior men's title in '03. I also in 2003 placed in the top 7 in the Nationals, and repeated that placing the following year in '04 after which, I retired from active competition to pursue the TCRG which I am still training for. I have also considered the world tap record, altough I am a long way off at 30tps, the record being 38!(my 30 tap per second clip is somewhere on ddn if you want to see my progress!). I never went overseas although I qualified for the worlds 5 times through 3 O placings, and 2 nats placings. I retired after the 04' nationals at age 29, and thought very heavily about returning to competition after a 6 months stint of TCRG training. I found it very difficult to walk away from competition, and questioned myself a couple of times. I found however, that my next goal was to help others make their way to the top so I kept on training for the exam. I tell you these things about me not to toot my own horn, but to show you and anyone else who might be reading, that with a little talent, and a ton of passion and dedication, you can fulfill your dreams like I did. I never knew where Irish dance would lead me when I first started but, I have and continue to enjoy the ride. Be realsitic, know your limitations, get with the right teacher right off the bat, and practice until it hurts, and you will be better than you can imagine.

All the best,
re: You're NEVER too old!
By TwinPeakesmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:29 PM
haha you're never too old. we had a guy who looked about 80 joining in one of the open age figures at the Ausralians this year. It was quite funny....especially coz he couldn't really dance, but he played along with the audience well.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By TwinPeakesmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:38 PM
just another thing i wanted to add...

i started dancing at 3. i started at a pretty competitive school, but after about a year of being there, the schol closed down, so i ended up going to a different school. i went from a commission school to a coughal school (sorry for the misspelling). After getting fed up of that school, i moved back to a commission school at about age 10. For me, that was a pretty big step. Not only was i 'just moving schools', i had to make my body (legs) work the way commission steps are meant to be danced. i had to retrain everything i learnt, and pretty much throw away all 'habits' i learned at the previous school, out the door! That was a pretty hard task to have to do. And like my teacher said, i've come a looooong way from that time i moved schools, and had to redo everything i ever learned.
Soo on the subject of the post, if i had tried to do that at a much younger age...i'd probably still be struggling with old habits that i got into! :?
By IrishEyes4
On Thu Oct 19, 2006 02:52 PM
Thanks so much for the post. I just started as a teen and I've fallen head over heels in love with Irish. I reallly would like to pursue it as a career but I don't know if I'm too old for that or not... I'm practicing hard so that maybe within the next couple of years I'll be able to compete. I love dance more than anything I've ever done so if anyone wants to try it don't think about it any longer! It's one of my best decisions! I also have a great teacher... If you're thinking about trying Irish it'll be the best thing you've ever done. Again thanks for your post!
By Scott06
On Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:56 AM
Hi Richard,

Many thanks for your reply. I must say your irish dancing carrer is fantastic, and now after reading your story i have the desire to push forward. I have now been reading up alot about how its all set out and i've also been looking at various schools and teachers. I live in Hammersmith and there is a school there although im a bit shy about going along because im not sure wether or not they do adult classes. Me personally i feel that if i went to an adult class 3 times per week and had 1 or 2 privite lessons i will reach a high level of dance. My actual ambition is to become a performer in a show, one like lord of the dance. I would love for my mother to come along on my opening performance and see me dance, thats my ambition and thats what i intend to achieve.
I look forward to hearing back from you and your comments would be great. Many thanks

By Scott06
On Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:00 PM
Hi twin peakes,

thank you for your reply, i do hope to start dance next week and hopefully everything will go well, i wrote a long clip of my intentions to richard so hopefully you'll see that, but once again thank you for your help.

Hi Scott
By rttew
On Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:22 AM
Not sure where Hammersmith is, I presume somewhere in the UK. The only stumbling block I see for you there is the lack of teachers open to the idea of teaching older students. Having never danced overseas, its hard for me to say for sure, but I have heard that most of the established schools over there frown upon older dancers starting. What I had in my corner was a good grounded teacher who was open to helping all dancers be the best they can be and that made the difference.

Multiple lessons combined with privates will help you, but as my late teach used to tell us, "You will become the dancer you want to be outside of class on your own time practicing." Meaning, go learn your steps and corrections in class and take those things and develop them during your own time dancing. Don't depend on the teacher to "get you there."

All the best,
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Nitemere
On Thu Oct 26, 2006 02:31 PM
I started lessons at the age of 16, but had to give it up due to my ankle injury. Permitting my ankle will hold up, I will be starting up again next fall, and I will then be 21. I look forward to dancing again regardless of how much old I am than the others in the class; I do the dancing for ME and for the love of dancing. :)

Take care,
re: You're NEVER too old!
By misstwinkletoes1
On Mon Dec 04, 2006 05:30 AM
what a great post!!!!! i danced when i was younger then stopped. I took it back up as an adult, i love it more than ever i took part in a feis yesterday and came 2nd and 3rd in my premireship, who says theres no point in adults irish dancing!!!! 1
By Scott06
On Mon Dec 04, 2006 03:22 PM
Hey, thats a relief to know that you came back and carried on dancing, i would love to know more, about how you done it etc..,
would you e mail me, and let me know

many thanks scott.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By PoodleSocks07
On Wed Dec 06, 2006 06:51 PM
i thik this a really great post :)
re: You're NEVER too old!
By twinkle_toes__
On Sun Dec 10, 2006 11:16 PM
I started at 15 just a year ago, and now I'm in novice and prizewinner. it takes some time to get used to the feel of cuts and freeze leaps and everything, but all it takes is practice. I really want to make prelims and go to oireachas next year, even thought I haven't been doing irish for ages.
But no matter what, I enjoy dancing so much and placements can't change that
re: You're NEVER too old!
By leamanach
On Thu Dec 28, 2006 03:54 PM
I started at 25 and have loved it. I did take other forms of dance when I was much younger, but I think enjoyment and practice go a long way toward being as good as you can be regardless of age.
By Scott06
On Thu Dec 28, 2006 04:19 PM
hi, i just read that you started irish dance at the age of 25, much respect to you, im currently finding it hard to find a class that would take me, any ideas???
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Nitemere
On Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:52 PM
Wonderful post. I started Irish Dance at 16 and danced for a couple years and eventually quit. This fall I plan to start dance again and I will be 21. I will say it is nice knowing there are others like me out there.
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Allianamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Jan 01, 2007 06:03 PM
I first started Irish at 13yrs old. Late by some people's definitions but on the whole not too bad. I danced right up till I was 19 then took about 3yrs off due to various reasons (work conflicts, health, lack of money etc etc)

I'm now glad to say 2006 was my first year back after my time off (i am 22). My teacher's were great, basically just said "welcome back". They haven't had a problem with me dancing as an adult as I went straight back into the class I was in before I left.

At times I thought I'd never get back into properly, I always felt so slow and stiff compared to the girls in my class. (Ages range from 6-13, I am the oldest by 9years) But one day I will remember for a long long time, I finally picked up the steps again, I had started to regain my flexibility and stamina, and everything just clicked into place.

It is sometimes disconcerting to be the oldest in the class. In my case my teacher is my age and the assistant teacher is 2yrs younger than me! But we adults bring a lot to the class. See Dani's post

"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!"

Also adults DO pick up steps faster. one of the girls in my class has been learning a particular dance for a year and still hasn't learnt it all. I started it two months ago and have learnt all but the 3rd step by now.

Sure maybe us adults won't always make it into worlds, but if thats what you want and you work hard then yes we have as much chance as the itty-bitties!

I was worried about injury too when restarting, but honestly as an adult we're more likely to a) remember to warm up/cool down and stretch out and b)know the warning signs of injuries (aka; damn that hurts, maybe I better take it easy for awhile) So thats not something that should stop us from trying.

In reference to Ca_danseresje

"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".

That really irritates me. I would love it if some dance teachers offered adult classes, but some times you can convince them by saying you are prepared to dance with the littlies.

I was actually thinking (ok daydreaming really) if I ever got good enough to pass my teachers exams and come up with choreography I'd want to start a school with dedicated adults classes...

Sorry about the huge post, but I'll finish it off now.

If YOU want it, and you're prepared to work for it, then do it!
re: You're NEVER too old!
On Thu Jan 04, 2007 05:39 AM
This is a great post... and you are right, your never to old to start something. Who knows... You might end up a world champ!!! I would be happy with that!!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Highland_fling1
On Fri Jan 05, 2007 02:27 PM
Thank you so much for the positive comments about beginning Irish as an adult. I am a Highland Dancer, have been dancing since I was 5, and still dance and compete now at the age of 30. I have always loved watching Irish dancing and always wanted to try it as a child, however my mom felt I had enough on my plate as I did figure skating as well! Now finally at the age of 30, I have found a studio that will take adults, and I begin my first Irish class in 2 weeks! I am very excited and can't wait to start learning! Hopefully with a dance background, I will pick it up quickly!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By rainbow84uk
On Thu Feb 01, 2007 06:25 PM
Well I feel that I can add to this post now! About 7 years after I stopped dancing, I've just joined a mixed age and ability class in East London. I'm a couple of stones heavier than back then, unfit and any technique I had has long since melted away! And I wasn't even at a very high level the first time around...

But going back has been FANTASTIC! I was really scared when I went for my first class, but the teacher is amazing and the people are all so nice. It's a lot like my old classes - held in a community hall, with relatives sitting around chatting or sewing dresses and dancers of all levels and ages. Picture the scene: a podgy, red-faced 22-year-old in the middle of the room with the seven-year-olds, with loads of people watching, very slowly and painstakingly trying to learn the beginner reel steps. It sounds like my nightmare, and I can't imagine why I don't feel stupid and self-conscious, but I just don't! All I think about is the steps I'm learning and the music, and it's so much fun! I chat to the kids, from the tinest little ones to the teenagers who are amazingly good, and to the parents and relatives. Everyone has been so welcoming and any doubts I had have disappeared because of their encouragement.

Sorry for the mad rambling but I'm so happy and just wish I'd gone back sooner because I've been missing out on so much! To anyone wanting to go back to dancing, or to start as an adult - go for it! What have you got to lose? :0) Good luck and have fun!

Lauren xxx
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Hop_123member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Feb 09, 2007 02:50 PM
I started taking Irish dance (No TCRG) when I was 39, in a class full of adults. I loved it, but immediately got stress fractures in both feet and had to watch, but not dance for a month! After three years of class, there was talk of starting a competitive class for the kids. I talked to their teacher (TCRG) and basically begged to be included. Competitive dance sounded really interesting because it gives me a goal to work towards and a reason to go practice in the basement! So when I was 42, I started taking class with the 12-18 year olds. I was the only adult other than the TCRG. The kids were great. It's been a ton of fun since then. I have done four competitions, two as a beginner, and 2 as an advanced beginner. I've done well and should move up to novice in my hornpipe and light jig soon. My reel needs some work! The only advice I would give to dancers in the older-than-30 set, is to take it easy at first, stretch, practice gently. We get injured so much easier and it takes longer to heal than the kids. (I've torn both calf muscles too!)
re: You're NEVER too old!
By DanceRDie13member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Feb 09, 2007 07:00 PM
Yes very true. But why have to write a big long speech about it? Who wants to sit here and read on and on.
re: You're NEVER too old! (karma: 1)
By pub_dancin
On Sat Feb 10, 2007 09:06 AM
Well, I for one, would like to read a big long speech about older dancers - seeing as how I am one and all...
By Pixie79
On Sat Feb 10, 2007 05:43 PM
Just thought I would pass along a little update :) I'm now 27 and have been taking irish for 1 and a half years, and I dance in the & overs category in feisanna, well anyhow, I competed as an advanced beginner for the first time, and won straight first places on all of my solo dances (soft shoe and hard shoe). So now I qualify for Novice rank :) I had about 5-6 competitors in each dance. Anyhow, not trying to brag, just showing you guys that it can be done!! If you want it, go for it!!!!
re: You're NEVER too old!
By Ceallach
On Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:09 PM
Thanks a lot for this post!
As a new dancer at the age of 19 it makes me feel a little better about getting started, and what's in there is absolutely right! I can get a dance down in one class period, and the eight year olds in my class love showing me all of the dances they know that I haven't learned yet.
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