Name: Siobhan J.
Dancer at SRL: Natalie J.
How long has your family been with SRL?
I think it’s 4 years, starting 5th year. Natalie’s sister danced for one year as well.
Why Irish dance?
A few reasons; we had started with “regular” dancing, but it lacked something. I’m Irish, I’m involved in the Irish community, and I thought this might be another way to engage my daughters in an activity that would be great for them and also tied to their ancestry.
How did you pick your dancer’s name?
Before my husband and I were even married, we knew if we had a girl she would be “Natalie” . He loved Natalie Portman, I had a favorite student named Natalie.
How do you think dance has positively affected your dancer?
Natalie is competitive and she wants to do well but she is a little girl who can be easily more interested in other things. Dancing with SRL and Miss Courtney has given her ways to practice at setting goals and working toward them. This was never more true than her second year when she was struggling with reading in first grade and simultaneously did poorly at a feis. Right after that, she set two goals - which she even wrote down - to get better at reading and to get better at Irish dance. By the end of that year, she had improved dramatically at both. I believe that Natalie’s competitive nature to do well or be the best she can be, combined with the skills that she has been taught by Courtney in dance, and the positive reinforcements she’s gotten from her achievements are inextricably linked, but in short, dance has been the vehicle to hone those skills.
If your dancer was an animal, which one would they be and why?
She might say a kitten; cuddly, cute, fun to play with. But seeing she can be a little powerhouse, I suspect that kitten will grow up to be a lioness.
Would you relive your high school years if you could?
Ironically NO. Ironic, because I teach high school, but my goal is to be the teacher I felt I never had.
What’s your favorite dance-related memory?
In the beginning, it was seeing Natalie (and her sister) go to the performances during the St. Patrick’s Day season, particularly the senior homes. The first time I was overwhelmed with joy was the performance at CCSU when she and Roisin came out from the side “stage” and joined the large group for the big performance.
Favorite fall family activity?
Normally we love going to fairs like the Big E or the Berlin Fair. Apple picking is another favorite.
If you had to work, but didn’t need the money, what would you do?
Something creative; making crafts, painting, taking art classes as a professional student. :)
What advice would you give parents who are looking to try out Irish dance?
Go for it!!! Some of the reasons I love it are because it is a YEAR ROUND outlet for my daughter (and her dance mates). She does not have to wait a whole year for one recital. She has competitions in the fall, performances throughout the winter and early spring, more competitions in the spring and summer, camp and other regular opportunities to dance, hone skills, perform, and become close with her friends. She has become good friends with several of the dancers, has role models in the older dancers; and the families get to know one another and become friends too. There is a great deal of support among the parents for each other and for the dancers. Furthermore, the dancers support one another! They stay at competitions and cheer for each other, they help each other with tricky moves, and they commit to their teams. Irish dance is as much community (however much one wants to commit) as it is individual. Of course, there’s the movement, the exercise and athleticism, the focus that some children need to burn off the extra energy while learning self discipline in a fun way.
On a uncommon comparison, I often think it has similar qualities to karate with the discipline, athleticism, and focus. But, Irish dance has joy and musicality that takes it to another level; this is why I think it’s also very good for boys even though it may not be the first thing one thinks.
This post is a part of a series. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
Anyone who’s ever been to a country foreign to them knows: no matter how interesting the history and artwork and traditions are, there’s something equally intriguing about the differing details of day to day modern life. And nowhere are those differences more apparent than in snack foods. Though Japan is often cited for its incredible convenience store food, here are a few of Ireland’s favorite snacks that are just as intriguing…and sometimes surprising.
Red lemonade is almost exactly what it sounds like: it is lemon-flavored and it is red. However, this nostalgic beverage isn’t freshly squeezed, but more of an oddly colored (there’s also white and brown lemonade—which is also made and sold in Maine) soft drink (though they call them “minerals.”) Rumors still run rampant that this drink is banned everywhere but Ireland (and there’s also some mystery as to its origin,) but manufacturers insist this isn’t true. Though considered a bit of a throwback, red lemonade can still be found in many stores and pubs and is ordered by both children and adults to go with…more adult beverages.
Okay, okay, America loves potato chips too. But seeing different brands (like Tayto, Skips, and Hunky Dory) and flavors (Smokey Bacon or Prawn Cocktail, anyone?) can feel like a revelation. And the Irish are pretty serious about their crisps, too. When two Irish DJs decided to poll their listeners about the most popular crisp flavor in Ireland, the response was overwhelming, with 53% preferring Tayto’s Cheese and Onion. (In fact, Tayto brand crisps so popular in Ireland that a common snack is just Taytos smashed between two slices of buttered white bread—they call it a “Tayto Sandwich.”)
Originally called a “Tangle Twister,” these “ice lollies” are as common to Ireland as red, white, and blue Firecrackers are to the U.S. Though, they do come with a delicious twist on flavors: the original Twister is a creamy pineapple ice cream and lime fruit ice swirled around a strawberry fruit ice center. These days, there’s also variations involving blackcurrant (a very common dessert flavor there,) chocolate, pear, and even mango. In any flavor, these treats are so popular that there’s even a rollercoaster at West Midland Safari Park amusement park that echoes the classic design!
Name: Natalie J.
How long have you been dancing with SRL?
Since Kindergarten, going on my fifth year.
If you could only bring one thing to a desert island, what would it be and why?
My house, because it has a lot of stuff in it.
How did you get started with Irish dance?
I started at the church basement; Roisin Walsh was already dancing there.
If you were a fictional character, who would you be and why?
Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter.)
What’s your favorite dance memory?
Harry Potter Summer Camp!
What’s your favorite snack?
Fruit roll ups.
What’s your favorite thing about dancing?
Being with friends.
What’s your favorite show to binge watch?
iamSanna on YouTube (she has Roblox videos.)
Who do you look up to?
Miss Courtney Jay.
What’s the best advice you can give a new dancer?
Even though it is hard, you can do it!
This post is part of a series. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
The Druids and the Normans
There are many things in this vast world we don’t know the truth of: the Easter Island moai, the Nazca Lines, and even eels (hard to believe, but it’s true!) With legends reporting the earliest feis to have taken place three millennia ago, the beginnings of Irish dance fall into a similar category: a cultural marvel whose origin has been lost to time. (Okay, maybe eels are in a different category.)
While there’s no definitive answer for who the original practitioner of Irish dance really was, historians do have some educated guesses. The Druids—a learned class in early Celtic culture that was a mix of priest, teacher, doctor, judge, and even warrior—are most often credited with the earliest version of the dances we practice today. The Druidic class was highly respected in ancient Irish culture, with the word “druid” thought to have come from the Irish-Gaelic word “doire,” meaning oak tree or wisdom.
The biggest difference between modern Irish dance and Druidic performances? The Druids are believed to have danced as a form of worship. It’s thought that as early as 1600 B.C. the Druids were performing circular dances (possibly among standing stones, the most famous of which you may have heard of…Stonehenge) for a variety of reasons: to worship the sun and their namesake oak trees, as preparation for war, as a prayer for prosperity, as a courtship ritual, and even something closer to modern feis—social gathering and recreation.
But the Celts had some company knocking at the door. Ireland was invaded by the Normans in 1169 A.D., a group of Viking descendants previously settled in what is now Northern France. With their forces, the Normans brought a variety of traditions with them, including “carolling”—which is essentially a mix of Druidic circle dances (which were already similar to early French tradition,) and the singing we associate with modern caroling around the holidays.
“Carolling” led to one of the earliest known mentions of Irish dance in writing in 1413, when the Mayor of Waterford visited the Mayor of Baltimore (we've borrowed many a town name from the Irish!) and was presented with a procession of singing and dancing. While modern Irish dance is a little too athletic to expect anyone to sing while dancing, the custom of combining traditional dance and music is still carried out at most Irish dance academies. That includes us here at SRL!
This is part I of a series. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
So we can’t sit this close together right now - don’t let that deter you from the many benefits dancing can offer your little one!
We know how important it is for toddlers and pre-schoolers to interact with their peers. Interacting with other children their age is a huge part of their social development and it can’t be recreated at home with siblings and parents.
This has always been a huge part of our Pre-Beginner program and it is more important now than ever before. In our small dance classes (maximum of 8 students), tiny dancers learn to take turns, share the attention of their instructor, follow directions, and most importantly build their independence from their caregivers.
After months of staying home or with close family, it will be very normal for children to experience separation anxiety. The longer you avoid independence building activities, like dance class, the more severe the anxiety may become.
Our popular Jump’n Jig program has been adapted to allow for physical distancing without sacrificing any fun! We want you to feel safe joining us and allowing your little dancer to enjoy time to jump, wiggle, and jig with us!
We are so excited to re-open our doors this Monday June 29, 2020! It has been too long since we've heard giggles in our halls, seeing practices of the latest Tik-Tok craze, and the sound of trebles on our wooden floor. While the reopened studio will look and feel different than pre-pandemic times, the heart and soul of our community will bring the warmth and comfort we're all seeking.
Our last in-person classes were Friday March 13 and I will never forget how that week unfolded in slow motion as we all watched our world change in disbelief. Right in the midst of St Patrick's Day excitement, events that our dancers look forward to and work hard for as long as 6-months prior, everything came to a sudden halt. Schools were announcing two week closures, businesses were shutting down, and families sheltered in their homes to stay safe and healthy. Never again will we take for granted trips to the grocery store, play dates with friends, or hugging others for greetings or goodbyes.
During our time at home, students continued their dancing online in our virtual studio (thanks Zoom!) and we heard so many times from parents how dancing was the bright spot in their child's day, the meeting they most looked forward to, and how on days they had dance class their mood was better. Others struggled with only being able to connect with their instructors and classmates through the computer screen or losing the huge dance floor and mirrors they were used to.
Our re-opened studio is outfitted with changes for everyone's health and safety - small class sizes, physical distancing during classes and within the building, mask wearing when less than 12ft apart, restrooms outfitted with new faucets and dispensers to prevent surface contact, new entry/exit and drop off procedures, and of course - lots of hand sanitizer. While on the surface it looks cold, clinical, and that some of the joys have been taken away, we're confident that our people make the studio: our dancers, their families, and our staff. We know that bringing together (6 or more feet apart, of course) our community safely, the mental and physical health of our dancers will improve long after they've left the studio from the in-person interaction, returning to a familiar place, and experiencing class outside of their computer screen.
Stay tuned for program options for new students. We know there are families who are looking for safe activities for their children to resume movement and social interaction over the summer and we want to be your destination for dance!
What’s the best way to get 2-4 year olds started Irish dancing? It’s Jump’n Jig, and Scoil Rince Luimni is the only school in Connecticut to offer this program for pre-schoolers!
The program was designed by Irish dance teacher, adjudicator, and early-childhood expert Fiona Holmes ADCRG and is tailor-made for our youngest dancers to learn and understand how to be in a dance class, develop their motor skills and musicality, and of course enjoy every moment of their class.
Each portion of class is designed with the preschooler in mind, from the inviting welcome, a reminder of our expectations and manners within the studio, social engagement between the dancers, working on our listening and dancing skills, and rewards and positive reinforcement.
There are two movement stations within the class - one in a circle so all students can engage closely with each other and the instructor and a long line acting as a ‘track’ for dancers to practice various skills. We open and close class in the circle and incorporate props kids love - teddy bears, wands, musical instruments, and more!
Along the track, we work on our single leg balancing, single leg balancing with accessory movements, leg and foot strength, moving on or around markers and targets, foot placement for Irish dancing, and the concept of right/left and front/back. As dancers become more proficient with their motor skills, they progress to dance skills that will help them transition to our Beginner program when they are old enough.
Dancers also practice actively listening to the music and finding the beat by clapping and utilizing props so they can dance WITH the music instead of TO the music (the hardest thing to teach a dancer!). Our Pre-Beginner program is all about setting each preschool dancer up for success - and by success we mean happy, confident, and comfortable with their abilities and in their class. Dancers who love to dance and have strong foundations will grow to work through the inevitable bumps in the road or challenges they may face as they progress.
Ready to join in? We have limited space in our Saturday morning class and we have a brand new class opening Friday mornings in October.
Looking for some fun events to celebrate St Patrick's Day? Here are our final public events where you can catch the dancing for this year's high holy day!
Scoil Rince Luimni shares Irish dance with everyone in our community this March and our youngest fans can catch us perform at:
It's parade weekend and you can celebrate the season with us there - or at one of our other public events this Saturday or Sunday!
We'll be marching with the town of South Windsor at the Greater Hartford St. Patrick's Day Parade - look for the red, white, and black Irish dance squad!
We are also performing Saturday night at the Indian Valley Family YMCA Childcare Center's Multicultural Fair. The event showcases different cultural arts from around the globe and a great way to catch unique entertainment.
On Sunday we have our St Patrick's Day Irish Dance Lesson & Open House! at our South Windsor studio. Our Beginner class still has some openings and you can visit the event page for information on how to save your spot.
And finally, Sunday afternoon we'll be performing and giving a mini lesson at the Farmington Libraries, CT at the Main Branch from 2:00-2:45pm.
Hope to see you over the weekend!
Join us in celebrating St Patrick's Day at Scoil Rince Luimni! On Sunday March 10th, we are holding a free class and open house at our South Windsor studio!
We’re opening our studio for you to come experience our classes, tour our studio, and see if Irish dancing could become part of your child’s life in the future. You don’t ever need to be Irish to enjoy Irish dancing - it’s an artistic sport that has so many amazing benefits for children & adults!
Irish dance is fast paced, highly social, and has infectious music which make it exciting and dynamic for kids to learn. We celebrate our milestones and successes along the way while always presenting a new challenge to keep students motivated, engaged, and proud of their work.
Our young dancers experience:
Scoil Rince Luimni is thrilled to welcome Christian Cairone TCRG to our studio family! Christian has been Irish dancing since he was 3 years old. He trained under Irene and Maureen Horgan who helped instill the love and passion for dancing he has today. While there, he assisted teaching with all levels of classes which helped to increase his love of dancing and teaching.
Christian has competed around the globe with career highlights including: becoming Senior Men's Oireachtas champion, placing 4th at the All Ireland's, and medalling at both the North American Championships and the World Championships. At the 2018 World Championships, he had the opportunity to perform with the Fusion Fighters during their performance and would love to dance in a professional show in the future. Since passing his TCRG exam in January 2018, he is focused sharing his love and passion with his dancers and helping them to reach their goals.
Aside from dancing, Christian majored in Culinary Arts and Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University. He is currently working on becoming a Registered Dietitian to eventually specialize in Sports Nutrition to help dancers understand proper nutrition and to also give them easy recipes to use as well!
We are excited to have additional feedback, expertise, and support for all of our dancers as well as bring our growing contingent of male dancers a role model they can aspire to emulate in their dancing!
Christian Cairone has been Irish dancing since he was 3 years old. He trained under Irene and Maureen Horgan who helped instill the love and passion for dancing he has today. While there, he assisted teaching with all levels of classes which helped to increase his love of dancing and teaching. With the Horgan academy, he was able to compete in many competitions around the globe. Some of his favorite highlights from his career were becoming the Senior Men's oireachtas champion, placing 4th at the All Ireland's, and medaling at both the North American Championships and the World Championships. At the 2018 World Championships, he had the opportunity to perform with the Fusion Fighters during their performance. Since passing his TCRG exam in January 2018, he is focused sharing his love and passion with his dancers and helping them to reach their goals.
Aside from dancing, Christian majored in Culinary Arts and Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University. He is currently working on becoming a Registered Dietitian to eventually specialize in Sports Nutrition to help dancers understand proper nutrition and to also give them easy recipes to use as well! He also would love to dance in a professional show, such as Riverdance, which is why he started dancing when he was 3 years old.
To all of my amazing dancers on the (almost) eve of the Oireachtas,
I am so proud of you.
Thank you for your hard work in preparing for this big event and I want to let you know how honored I am to be part of your team. After months of classes, practices, private lessons, competitions, and an emotional breakdown here and there, I want you to know that no matter what happens you’ve already won.
There are not many kids these days that are willing to make the sacrifices you have made to excel at their sport. There are not many kids dedicated enough to something to keep putting in the work day after day, week after week, when the reward isn’t guaranteed and is often far in the future.
As long as you stay calm, project confidence, dance like you do in class, and show great sportsmanship, there is nothing more I can expect or ask of you. Please let that comfort you and lighten the load you feel on your shoulders. I’m sure you have put greater pressure and expectation on yourself and I don’t wish to add to that. Remember to be kind to yourself and be your own number one fan.
I hope that you can celebrate your result no matter what your ranking is - after all, this is one day among many in your dance journey. This is one little mile-marker along the marathon that is your continual self improvement and you HAVE improved just by peaking for this event. Even if you feel a sting of disappointment, remember that it’s okay to feel that pain temporarily but it’s also important to not let it keep you down or become a limiting belief. Instead, dust yourself off and be ready to cheer on your friends. Just because you’re not happy with your own results doesn’t impact your ability to support others.
Whether you win the whole thing or fall all the way to the bottom of the results, we turn the page together at the conclusion of the Oireachtas. Either way we move on to an improvement season, learning new choreography, and setting new goals and my opinion of your potential of a dancer does not change based on the outcome of this weekend. Your power is in your ability to take your result and use it for motivation.
Finally, say thank you to your parents. While they may not receive a medal for their efforts, they should not go unnoticed or under appreciated. Together, we all stand behind you on your team and they make sure you get to class, get to competitions, have the supplies and equipment you need, and experience everyday’s ups and downs along with you.
Now go out there and be fiercely you! You can do this, I believe in you!
Scoil Rince Luimni Irish Dance Academy, based in South Windsor & Farmington Connecticut, will have 31 dancers representing our school at the 2018 New England Regional Oireachtas held from November 16-18, 2018 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Our dancers will be competing against the best of New England across three disciplines for regional ranking, National qualification for the North American Irish Dance Championships in July 2019, and the World Irish Dance Championships in April 2019.
Dancers in the Traditional Set Dance competitions will be competing in the lower-tier competition designed to give up and coming dancers an opportunity to compete on the big stage against all the New England dancers in their age group. SRL is well represented in the traditional set dance competition with dancers hailing from:
The premier event in the solo championship which is for the highest level dancers that have climbed the ranks of competitive Irish dance over many years. These dancers are looking beyond improving their ranking and looking to place in the top 50% to be awarded their ranking on stage or qualify to a higher championship such as the North American Irish Dance Championship or World Championship. SRL will be represented in the solo championships by dancers from:
In the final team discipline, dancers perform standardized group dances called “ceilis.” Team competitions require precision in every movement, pattern, and step as each team is judged solely on execution. We have four 4-member teams that will compete in the 4-Hand Team competition:
We also have an 8-member team eyeing a result that would move them forward to the World Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina in April 2019. The girls competing on this team are:
Gabby Gorman & Ellie Diver (Farmington), Emma Magnani & Emma Feeley (Springfield), Paige Miele (Westfield), Emily Messier (Glastonbury), Mackenzie Richards (East Longmeadow), and Cayla Batz (Coventry).
Please keep all of our dancers in your thoughts and sending them positive vibes as they head into competition this weekend. These dancers have been working since the spring to fine tune their dances for their moment on stage and we wish them the very best of luck!
Confession: I’m a podcast addict. I hate having ‘dead time’ when I’m driving, getting ready to go somewhere, walking around and podcasts are the way I choose to fill that time.
I was listening to one today about habits and while this was information I already knew, it was presented in a different way and now I’m sharing it with you.
We all know to set goals and many of us do this regularly. All of our Beginner II & higher classes have made fall goals for the first quarter of our dance year and they’re awesome! But why will some of us achieve these goals (or any goal) and why will some of us fall short? A quote from the podcast was, “you don’t rise to your goals, you fall to your systems.” If you don’t have the right processes in place you won’t achieve the goal - makes sense, we know this - but I loved the way it was presented.
As it went on to talking about habits (ie the processes you want to implement to achieve your goals), it got me thinking about how our dancers can work on their everyday habits relevant to their own goals. A common one was practicing more (4x/week, 2x/week, etc). We ultimately succumb to our ‘bad’ habits of not making time because we just never start. Instead of worrying about what to practice, whether to do it before dinner or after dinner, if you have the right bandaid to cover your blister, or leaving your notebook at the studio - just start. Just start by putting your shoes on. Maybe that’s all you accomplish for everyday that week.
The starting point feels good and eventually evolves. You get used to starting, figuring out what you need, and get into a routine. THEN once that’s easy you can dive deeper and start working on what you practice, how you practice, when to practice, how long to practice, and so on.
Dancers - think about the fall goal you set for yourself. Now think of 3-5 ways you can help yourself achieve this by taking small but consistent action everyday. For the practice example, maybe you’re going to bring your dance bag to your practice space right when you get home from class so everything you need is already there. You might put your practice clothes in the practice area so you don’t have to go upstairs hunting for clothes to change into after school. And finally, you’ll commit to getting off the bus and putting your dance shoes on right away - even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
The fall competition season is well underway and it’s a roller coaster of emotions for our intermediate and advanced dancers as they inch closer and closer towards the biggest competition of their season, the Regional Oireachtas. While we do everything we can to prepare both in class and at home, not every feis is smooth sailing or rewards each dancer for their hard work.
It’s easy to love dancing and competing when you’re rewarded for your efforts - but what about when dance doesn’t always love you back?
You might be doing all the right things - taking in your corrections at class, practicing at home, getting enough sleep, fueling your body for success and still come home empty handed or disappointed with the results you received. You might wonder, what am I doing wrong? Why are my friends being rewarded and not me?
It’s a painful reality but one that exists. I’m here to tell you it’s normal - necessary, even - for truly appreciating what it takes to go after something you want. If you worked hard and were rewarded every time, you’d leave feeling happy but you also might not work as hard next time. When you have to really fight for what you want, you appreciate it so much more when it finally happens and you’re ready for the next challenge.
I recently asked a group of students, “what do you think would happen if you won all the time?” and the responses were very insightful:
One of our most frequently asked questions by parents at the beginning stages of the dance journey is:
How can I tell if my dancer enjoys this? OR
How can I tell if this is right for my child?
Of course every child is different but we have some common threads and patterns that have emerged over the years to help guide you.
1. Some children will happily show you EVERYTHING they did in class that day. Others won't, and it's a common misconception that the shy variety of dancers aren't enjoying class. Dancers that are reluctant to share what they've learned are often very protective of their new skills and have early signs of perfectionism that you may not have seen before.
2. Little by little you may notice your dancer skipping, jumping, and hopping from place to place more than they are walking. While it's not formal practice or dancing, their more expressive movement is a CLASSIC sign that they are taking in everything from classes and learning to move like a dancer. Soon you won't be able to go anywhere without them dancing along next to you.
3. You may hear that your child is teaching their friends and classmates at school or other activities how to dance. It is quite common for new dancers to feel more comfortable sharing their dancing with their peers than their parents, though the more outgoing personality will share with just about everyone! Teaching others what they are learning in class shows a very deep understanding and enjoyment for dance and is a huge step towards a loving relationship with learning more!
You can support your dancer's journey into dance by not forcing them to show or tell you more than they are comfortable. Each dancer takes a unique path through the early stages of dancing and there is no 'right' or 'wrong' one. Ultimately, your dancer leading their journey with you in the supporting role will result in the best outcome.
We’re just giddy with excitement over our new dance year starting! We know you might be concentrating on getting your kids back to school and aren’t ready to complicate things by adding new activities, but you still have time to join us this year! Our classes for new students begin September 8 - 13 and you can schedule a complimentary trial class before you commit to more classes.
We know just how much Irish dance can add to your child’s life, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10 to share with you! For more details, like our Facebook page and follow along as we go in depth about each of our top ten and countdown to our September 10th launch!
"[I appreciate] Courtney's structured, patient, and kind approach. She has her finger on the pulse of her students, knowing what they need and when, and I believe she had a lot to do with [my daughter's] growth this year."
We’ve just come off of a grand total of 145 hours of camps for both new students and our returning dancers. It’s a humbling juxtaposition of dancers who are falling in love with Irish dance for the first time and those who love the sport and are chasing every aspect of it with everything they have.
Dancers ages 2 through almost 30 worked to develop their repertoire, technique, and joy for dance over the last four weeks. Each with different goals - some just finding their feet and others chasing big dreams - they came to the studio each day with open minds, purpose, and their unique personality that reminded me why we take an individual approach for each dancer.
We have standards and expectations that set a framework of mutual respect between teacher & student, commitment to the process from both sides, and the support of classmates and teammates while pursuing individual goals at the right pace for each dancer. I’ve always held the belief that two dancers that appear very much the same on paper will end up with two very different journeys on two very different timelines.
Some journeys require more patience, more sacrifice, more sensitivity, or more reassurance from either parent, student, or teacher. It’s like we’re all walking through the same park but taking different paths and some will arrive on the other side later than others - and that’s okay.
Our goals at Scoil Rince Luimni are to first and foremost develop a love for Irish dancing - all of it, some of it, or simply an appreciation for movement, fitness, or expression. Next we aim to expose dancers to different routes of exploring dance outside the studio walls - performing, competing, exams - whether they try one, all, or a combination of the three. Some dancers will respond well to all avenues while others will have one or two that really speak to them. Finally, we support the whole dancer as they walk their chosen path(s). We make sure they are supported in just about every way - mind, body, and soul by bringing in outside experts where appropriate, continuing to innovate and adapt to new research and technology, and checking in with the dancer often on their approach, goals, and expectations.
Every dancer’s journey is met with challenges along the way - scheduling conflicts, choosing their primary activity, injuries, slumps in motivation and results, etc. While the road isn’t always smoothly paved, we like to help guide parents and dancers through the detours with our expertise and dancer-centric approach.
In many families, Monday morning (or even Sunday night) through Friday afternoon feeling running the gauntlet - school, work, activities, homework, projects, meetings, CCD, scouts, the list just never seems to end. You might not even have a free night, but on the rare occasion you do it might be your only chance to have a family dinner or have time to slow down.
We totally get it, and in our effort to make Irish dance classes as accessible as possible we hold classes on Saturdays in addition to our weekday schedule! Designed for first and second year students, our pre-beginner and beginner classes on Saturday mornings are perfect for busy families. Whether sports are on the calendar in your house or not, there’s something about Saturday morning that just has more ease to it.
Our Saturday classes are open and ready for new student enrollment! Irish dance classes are very active - even for those who aren’t into sports (psst, I never was!) - while also being extremely social and engaging. We have dancers from all over Connecticut so there are so many new friends waiting for your young dancer to meet. We have fun at every class while learning strong basics and encouraging a love of dance.
Children ages 3-5 are able to join our pre-beginner program from 9:30-10:00am each Saturday while children ages 6+ can join our beginner program from 10:00-11:00am. We have weekday offerings for both programs but they are filling fast! You can register on our website, https://www.irishdancect.com/register.html
Have you been wanting to try a class but waiting for the right time? Are you counting down the days until the kids go back to school and looking for something to do? Has your calendar looked more like advanced calculus all year and summer has finally opened up some time?
No matter the reason or occasion, we hope you can join us for a free "Try It Out" class on
Monday July 23
Monday July 30
If your little dancer is age 3-5 you can join us on either day at 5:30 for a 30min class. If your dancer is 6 or older, you can join us either day from 6:00-7:00pm.
This "Try It Out" trial class opportunity is in conjunction with our 2018 summer camps for new students, so there will be plenty of first timers in class for your dancer to meet.
Irish dancing is
⚡ High energy
👨👩👧👦 Enjoyable for boys and girls
🎵 Upbeat with infectious music
👋 Social and encourages students to meet new friends
And most importantly, FUN! Come see what all the buzz is all about! You can RSVP by sending in the form below.
Please join us in wishing the very best of luck to our six dancers attending the North American Irish Dance Championships this week in Orlando, Florida. They have qualified through the regional championships and/or achieving Open Championship status, the highest level within the competitive ranks.
They will represent Scoil Rince Luimni, Connecticut/Massachusetts, and the New England Region in the championships against the United States, Canada, Mexico as well as dancers traveling from Australia, Ireland, the UK, and beyond. We are proud of their hard work through their preparation and are looking forward to their training shining on stage.
Colleen Williams, 11, of Amston, CT and Bella Jensen, 11, of Somers, CT will compete in the Girls Under 12 division on Wednesday July 4th. They are best of friends and are practically inseparable, making training enjoyable for them while they make each other laugh almost constantly. It will be Colleen's second time attending the NAIDC and Bella's debut.
Emma Magnani, 15, of Springfield, MA and Kayla Purcell, 15, of Hebron, CT will compete in the Girls Under 15 division on Monday July 2nd. Both are first time qualifiers and looking forward to experiencing this heightened level of competition together.
Tara Lynch, 17, of Cheshire, CT will compete on Sunday July 1 in the Girls Under 18 division. She is a second time qualifier and learned a lot at her previous NAIDC in New Orleans last year. She is bringing her wisdom and experience with her this year and loves to perform on the big stage. Lindsey Hoffman, 18, of Columbia, CT will compete on Saturday June 30 in the Girls Under 19 division in her fourth appearance at the championships. After recovering from injury last year, she is giving it everything she has and brings more maturity and perspective than ever before.
Each division has approximately 130 - 180 competitors and the top 50% of each group will be recalled to dance a third round before being awarded at the end of each day. No matter the outcome, we are proud of each dancer for qualifying for this major championship and their growth as dancers, performers, and competitors in their preparation for this week.
You can follow the highlights on our Facebook page or for a more detailed look at each day, you can follow us on Instagram through our posts, stories, and IGTV.
Exciting news out of our class of 2018! Among our Scoil Rince Luimni dancers, two have been named their class valedictorian for 2018. We congratulate Lillian Bluestein, St James School Class of 2018, and Tara Lynch, Cheshire Academy Class of 2018, on their outstanding achievement in their respective schools. Both Lilly and Tara exemplify how Irish dancing and academic achievement go hand in hand.
As dancers progress, their time in the studio increases and coupled with getting older, dancers quickly have to learn how to manage their time in order to stay on track in school and with their dancing aspirations. We tend to see dancers figure out how to manage their time rather than curtail their dance career, a trend that is seen not only within our school but the greater Irish dancing community as well. Over the last few years we've seen the oldest competitive age bracket expand and split to manage the higher number of dancers pursuing their competitive goals after college graduation, joining the workforce, and beyond.
As dancers learn how to manage their time, they also learn to prioritize what is really important to them. It's no surprise that both Lilly and Tara find time to fit in community and family time as well as other commitments - Lilly is involved in her church and Tara is a soccer player. Other dancers within our school are involved in school clubs and sports which gives each dancer 3-5 priorities that come before screen time, trivial activities, or getting into trouble ;)
Irish dancing is a disciplined and fairly regimented sport so this continues to feed the goal-focused, work-first, and continuously striving mindset that brings achievement in both academics and dancing. We teach goal setting and maintaining a positive mindset in ways that go beyond dancing and can be practiced in real life.
We are sure Lilly and Tara will continue to do great things both in and out of the studio! Lilly will continue her studies at Northwest Catholic High School in the fall and Tara has been accepted to Ithaca College for communications.
It’s recital time! At Scoil Rince Luimni, we call our recital our annual Showcase. It started as a dinner dance and has evolved into a more traditional recital as our student body has grown. To keep true to our earlier days, we have two great receptions available before and after the show for families to connect, friendships to flourish, and keep a more relaxed and family friendly atmosphere.
The spring and early summer is always jam packed with activities, recitals, concerts, field days, graduations, communions, and everything from the academic year coming to a close. Especially if you’re a first timer to our Showcase, you may wonder how your dancer will cope with it all. The truth is - we really don’t know! You know your child inside and out but until they’re on stage for the first time, anything could happen.
In our classes we approach the Showcase with a pretty low-key attitude. True to our dinner dance roots, we speak to students about the Showcase as a way to share their new skills and joy for dance with their favorite family and friends. Instead of playing up the role of the audience, which can be an overwhelming and frightening thought for a young dancer, we make the role of the dancer shine. We talk about doing our very best and showing our best skills. We practice looking straight ahead and focusing on our technique so there’s no difference whether your dancer’s teacher is watching or a room full of hundreds.
When the realization of the audience does come up, we talk about how it’s a friendly audience. It’s a room full of supportive moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and siblings that are there to cheer everyone on. It’s an audience that understands it’s okay if you make a mistake and understands this is a learning experience. The audience appreciates great dancing but also doesn’t expect a class of beginners to be professional dancers. Often our dancers expectations of themselves is exponentially higher than the expectations of their parents or teacher.
Your dancer might show you nothing at home and then go out and nail it on stage. Your dancer might practice 24/7 and be the top of their class but go on stage and freeze. Your dancer might go out and do the hokey pokey despite knowing their reel inside and out. We don’t know and there’s only so much worrying we can do about it. As a parent, we encourage you to celebrate your child getting to the stage. Every year we have parents who swear their child is too anxious or too shy to get on stage - and then they do it. We often underestimate how much celebration this calls for and how amazing your dancer will feel afterwards. Conversely, if your dancer gets on stage and freezes or decides to freestyle - don’t assume they’re not cut out for dance or that they didn’t soak up any knowledge this year. Performing on stage is no easy feat and takes practice over time. You might consider doing some more casual performances throughout the year to help build your dancer’s confidence and give them experience. Remember, this is just the beginning of the road.
Many dancers will leave the Showcase feeling inspired by seeing all of the older and more experienced dancers perform. For some, this will be their first glimpse at what all those weekly lessons add up to over the years. Many will leave wanting to dance like this dancer or that dancer, or be able to do this trick or that trick. This is something to be celebrated too - seeing your dancer get excited, passionate, and more deeply interested in Irish dance as a whole. If your dancer is of the quieter, more reserved variety, they might not express this excitement aloud. Instead you may find them drawing or writing about dancers they saw in the Showcase or you may glimpses of them ‘practicing’ the hard shoe or championship numbers.
We are so excited for you to join us next Saturday! Our show begins at 5:30pm on May 19th at East Catholic High School in Manchester. Tickets are available through 5/12 online or for $25 cash at the door.
Our annual Showcase is Saturday May 19th beginning at 5:30pm. This year we will be holding our event at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT. Each year our Showcase features all of our classes and dancers as well as scholarship and award winners to recognize each dancer's achievements and growth throughout the year.
Tickets go on sale tonight at 8pm - we have two ticket types, Gold and Standard.
Gold ticket holders will be admitted beginning at 4pm for a pre-show reception and early seating in the auditorium. There is no assigned seating, so gold ticket holders will have early access and first dibs on seats.
Standard ticket holders will be admitted beginning at 5pm to select from remaining seats. There are no bad views in this large auditorium and there are only 150 gold ticket available.
Both ticket types will have access to our post-show reception, our raffle baskets, and an amazing show!
Find all of our latest news on our Scoil Rince Luimni Facebook page!