When I was caught up in the thick of it, I let my TCRG convince me of a lot of things that just weren’t true. My legs were too white, therefore they needed an artificial tan before any competition. My dress wasn’t sparkly enough. My dancing wasn’t graceful enough. I opened my mouth too much while dancing. Because I was so completely caught up in Irish dance culture, I couldn’t see how wrong she was and instead took note of every word.
Now, I know she was wrong.
Oh yes, everything she told me was technically right, but she was also wrong. She was wrong because those things that she saw as flaws in my performance, were actually strengths that showed my unique talent and personality. I never wanted to be a cookie cutter princess doll in a sparkly dress with ringlets. Yet at the time, I was convinced that was the only way to be a great Irish dancer.
The whole reason I started Irish dancing was because I thought it was cool. I saw Riverdance and loved every bit of it. I thought it would be fun, and I never planned on trying to be the best at it. I just wanted to be great at it.
I’m glad I danced with a certified school and competed at feiseanna for 10 years, but I’m even more glad that I am not any longer. You have to be careful not to let the costumes and obsession with technique kill your passion. I thought it had for a while, but I feel it coming back stronger than ever.
I love Irish dance and I’ll never again let someone tell me the way I dance isn’t great. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and that is what makes me a great dancer. I don’t believe that perfect technique is as important as TCRG’s make it out to be. Years ago in Ireland, I imagine Irish dance was something people enjoyed doing at parties and family gatherings. Do you really think spectators stood around judging the dancers thinking, “Wow, she really needs to tan her legs, they’re blinding me…” or, “She isn’t kicking her butt every time…”
Why can’t Irish dance be that way today? Just for fun, just dancing our best, in sweats and a t-shirt. From the beginning, I always thought that’s when Irish dance was the funnest.
Next time you dance, try it out! Forget technique, forget the costume, forget the endless TCRG critique going through you brain every time you step on the floor. Just dance! Just for you. I think it will open your mind to a whole new world. It did for me.
I love Irish dance now more that ever.
Post by Shelly Allen
Go to shellyallenart.com.