Name: Tara L.
How long have you been dancing? Why Irish dance? Do you still dance?
I was a competitive Irish Dancer for 15 years, regionally ranked numerous times at the New England Regional Oireachtas and nationally ranked at the North American Irish Dance Championships. I retired in 2019 after my freshman year of college.
Irish dance was a life changing experience that provided me with so many opportunities to learn and grow. It was a daily challenge, which inspires my work ethic today. I always aim high and dream big. Through Irish Dance, I learned by working hard and practicing my craft, I could achieve anything.
If you had to work, but didn’t need the money, what would you do?
I think I would be a teacher, whether that would be for school or dance. I always loved my time as an assistant teacher for Courtney and still keep in contact with some of my students today. When they finally got their jumps or skips, it was such a proud moment for me. I miss working with them!
If you could meet any historical or famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
As everyone knows, I am a huge Taylor Swift fan. I would love to meet and interview her, asking how she got to where she is today, what does she hope fans take from her music, and why she decided to pursue a music career. I think she is such a great role model for young people and has such an interesting story that I would love to hear more about!
What’s your favorite outdoor winter activity and why?
I love ice skating with friends! It is so fun to skate with music and just have a good laugh.
What advice do you have for aspiring dancers?
There were many times during my career where I felt stuck and thought I would be better off quitting, but I did not. There were many times the chips did not fall my way, whether that be in class or at a competition, but I told myself that I had to keep trying because deep down I knew I could make my goals. My advice is no matter how the chips fall dance because you love it and because you can see yourself achieving your personal goals.
Why do you think people dance?
I think people dance because it is freeing. In Irish Dance, it is you and the floor working in harmony to produce something beautiful and culturally significant. It is a personal challenge, similar to golf, where the only opponent is yourself. It is also an opportunity to celebrate a culture very few understand. To represent and celebrate my Irish heritage through dance has connected me more with my family’s ancestry.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Why?
I would love to mind read... it would have been super helpful to know what the judges were thinking while I was dancing! Now as a journalism major, I would love to know what my sources are really thinking when I ask them a question.
What was your favorite SRL memory?
My favorite memory was competing at my final North American Championships in 2018. It was probably the most fun I have ever had at a competition and I danced my personal best. While I fell just short of my goal, I admire the work I put in from January to competition day to put my best foot forward and succeed. However, I miss the daily classes the most. Seeing my friends and classmates always brightened my day and you never really knew what was going to happen that day! There were always plenty of jokes to go around!
How do you think your time at SRL positively affects your everyday life as an adult?
As an adult, my time at SRL taught me the value of time management, passion and persistence. Until college, I was a multi-sport athlete, competitive dancer and a participant in various other extracurricular activities. I learned quickly how to manage my school load with these other commitments to keep everything in balance. I hold myself to a high standard to do everything the best I can, so being able to manage that while maintaining a passion for the sport taught me so much. Today, I approach everything I do with passion and persistence while remembering I have to manage my time well to accomplish all of my goals.
What’s the most important quality to have in life?
The most important quality to have in life is to be hardworking. Without some level of hard work or effort, you will never reach your full potential. Talent can only get you so far. Hard work gets you to the finish line.
This post is part of a series. See our Q&A with another former dancer, Lindsey H., here. 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.
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