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  • Feis Dad:
  • 03 October 2015

An Open Letter To Irish Dancers

A recent situation between my dancer and I made me realize a few things, and I am probably not the only one that feels this way, so I wanted to share.

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The other day, I was watching TGC (that is The Girl Child if you are new to my posts) at the studio. There were only a few dancers, so I was standing in the doorway, where she could see and hear me, instead of being behind the window, the parents usual viewing spot, where I would have been just a visual annoyance.

As she danced, I noticed her doing one of those things that get her in trouble come judging time, and I pointed it out. 'I am working on something new' she replied, and I came back with something like 'you should work on everything, all the time. If you don't correct a bad habit while you are learning something new, it will be a part of the something new', or words to that effect. 'You aren't my teacher' she replied.

It went on a bit from there, and any of you who know me, know that my personality, and how I present myself, probably did not help the situation. You would be right. I apologized to her the next day. I probably would have apologized that night, but if there is one thing she has inherited from me, it is bullheadedness, and it is hard to apologize when you are not speaking or listening to each other, but I digress.

What ate at me, even now, days later, was the comment 'you aren't my teacher.' It kind of stung, and although she probably didn't mean it this way (or maybe she did, I don't really want to know), what I heard was 'you don't know what you are talking about.'

I thought about it, and I realized there is a lot I don't know, but there is quite a bit that I do, especially when it comes to my dancer, so I decided to write this. As I am pretty sure there are lots of dancers who feel the same (consciously or subconsciously) as TGC does, and just as many parents, who feel the way I do, I thought I would share it. So without further ado...

An open letter to Irish dancers, from a dance dad...

I know I am not your teacher, and I still may not be able to tell the difference between a hornpipe and a slip jig, but I wanted to tell you some things I do know. I have watched you dance for years, quite possibly for more time than your teacher. I have been with you at home while you practice, in the car to and from practices and competitions, with you at feiseanna and Oireachtas, and with you, all to often, in an urgent care or emergency room because of dance. I have been with you after failure and after success. All this together time helps me know more about you.

  • I know when you are frustrated
  • I know the things you do not do so well
  • I know when you are in pain, even when no one else can tell
  • I can hear when your steps are in time with the music
  • I can hear your successful clicks
  • I see your successful points, and crosses, and kicks
  • I know the things you do well
  • I know when you are happy with your dancing
  • I know how important being good at dance is to you
  • I know how beautifully you can dance

I know none of that qualifies me to teach Irish Dance. But, because of the things I know, wanting you to succeed, and being your dad, not being 'qualified' is not going to stop me from giving you advice to help you become a better Irish dancer, and if you listen closely enough, a better you.

I know I may not have the best timing, or the right words, or the best delivery, but I have the best intentions, and I want to do whatever I can to help you meet your goals. Just so you know, the thing I know most, is how much you love to dance.


'For me this experience was as straightforward and as simple as one could have hoped for. '

Josh - UK
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