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.
Find all of our latest news on our Scoil Rince Luimni Facebook page!