Do you wonder what Irish dance classes are like at Rinceoiri?
We stretch, we dance (a lot), enjoy visiting with each other and our kids, dance some more, and generally just have a good time. We get to learn in a friendly environment where we learn dance techniques through example and loads of practice.
Yes, you read that right. The latest Quester Gas commercial features a handful of Irish dancers.
Our dancers got a pretty decent amount of screen time too. Watch for them at the end of the clip, starting at around 21 seconds in. Not too shabby for a 30 second commercial, amiright?
The commercial titled ThermWise: diving, surgery and dance are hard stars Daryn Tufts, a local celebrity and filmmaker, as Therm. You can see Daryn, as himself, at Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX at the end of this month.
“Therm, Questar’s energy wise guy, shows examples of things like diving, surgery and even dancing can be hard,” the commercial’s YouTube channel states; while, “Saving energy can be simple.”
Irish dancing can be hard (at one point, the girls were dancing on apple boxes to get the right height for closeups)but we know how much fun it can be! The dancers had a great time dancing on stage, teaching Daryn a few movements, and playing it up for the cameras. The puffy shirts? Well I think the guys could have done without those, but when campy is what they want, campy is what they get!
This isn’t the first time Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers have been in front of the camera. A few of our littlest dancers were featured in the DVD Zack & Zoey Explore the Articles of Faith, where they were able to work with Golden-Globe nominated composer Lex de Azevedo (Saturday’s Warrior, My Turn on Earth, Gloria, Hosanna) and the producers of Signing Time.
A lot of hard work, makes for a lot of fun. Dancing for fun is what we do best and it looks like people are starting to take notice.
If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling the chill of winter and starting to get the cabin crazies. Is it time to start Irish dance yet?
Almost, my lovelies, almost. In fact, new classes begin with the new year! See these pages for more info on that:
Intro to Irish dance
SO, to get you completely pumped for dance to start once again, I’ve compiled a little playlist on Spotify. These tunes will make you want to throw on your ghillies or hard shoes and start dancing! Forget the snow and ice, the freezing wind; Kill the Chill with this Irish dance playlist!
You’ll recognize a few tunes from our dance classes, others from amazing movies, but hopefully you’ll also find something brand-spankin’ new to your ears. I love this playlist and hope you will too!
Let me know if there are any songs you truly love that haven’t been included. Just comment your suggestion below. And feel free to share with your family and friends!
What are you doing this weekend? I know what I’ll be doing. The Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish dancers will be joining one of our very own, Bonnie J., as she portrays her alter ego of Chloe Luck McCoggles at Utah Winter Faire this Saturday in Farmington.
Chloe is a Steampunk Irish step-dancing leprechaun. And she’s ah-mazing.
So what is Steampunk exactly? Well, Wikipedia describes it as, “…a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.”
At it’s most basic, anything Steampunk seems to follow these guidelines:
- Includes steam-powered gadgetry.
- Occurs during the Victorian era in or around England.
- Includes items like gears and goggles.
Tina Baine says it’s a brilliantly “…unique combination of romance and technology, fantasy and history, or as writer/crafter Jean Campbell puts it, ‘Mad Max’ meets ‘Jane Austen.'”
So where does Bonnie and Irish dance come in?
Well, the story began when Bonnie’s dear friend Lisa (Madame Potts) dressed up in Steampunk for Halloween a few years ago.
“I didn’t really know what Steampunk was until that time, and I was immediately drawn to the style,” says Bonnie. “Soon after, I worked with her to create my first character with an English theme (Miss Jacqueline McHyde) and attended my first Steampunk Convention in Utah; [Salt City] Steamfest.”
After seeing all the costumes and character ideas at Steamfest that first year, Bonnie noticed a lot of the characters had different costumes for each day (Steamfest is a multi-day event). Having only one costume of her own, she found she too wanted to build a Steampunk style wardrobe and started collecting ideas.
She and Lisa had so much fun at their first convention, she says, “…we decided to volunteer and be directors of a Steampunk fashion show for [the] next year’s Steamfest.”
The theme? A Passage, Around the World in 80 Days. The theme would help people step outside the Victorian style.
“As part of the staff, I too wanted to step outside the Victorian style and be something else. I had this old leprechaun blouse in my Halloween box and I thought I’d somehow turn it into a floral, green woman’s aristocratic style outfit. But again it seemed to be too Victorian style. It honestly drove me crazy thinking how to come up with a character concept that wasn’t Victorian! I set the costuming aside for a while and went back to my normal routine.”
Here’s where lovely Bonnie is inspired by Irish dance.
A student with Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers for many years, Bonnie has always loved all things Irish/Scottish, from the music, the food, and her most favorite, the dancing!
“I have enjoyed the feeling of pride it always gives me,” she says, “Then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks! Why change a leprechaun costume into something else Steampunk when I can just make a Steampunk leprechaun!”
And the idea for an Irish step-dancing leprechaun was born.
Lisa and Bonnie went to work on her costuming; adding thistles, flowers, twigs, cogs, charms, buckles, sporran, and of course, a leprechaun’s lucky pot of gold.
Though her costume was now essentially completed, a good friend always told her, “It’s the hair, makeup, and accessories that make the costume.”
“We wanted to go away from the standard curly hair you’d find on most Irish characters, so Lisa started creating a hair piece with the concept that this leprechaun came from the woodlands of Ireland and a woodland creature wouldn’t have curls, but braids and dreadlocks. I was a little nervous of the idea as she was making it, but when I put it on, it was perfect!”
Bonnie says proudly, “My finishing touch was my Irish dance shoes.”
“I put the entire costume, hair and makeup, on and I couldn’t help but feel the same pride as I do when I’m with my dance group.”
But every Steampunk character needs a name and a back-story. She said that finding a name was a little hard, but she finally decided on the name Chloe.
“Not only is Chloe the name of one of my favorite Celtic Woman, but also the name I plan on naming my first girl.”
She went on to say, “My grandmother’s, mother’s, and my own name is Irish/Scottish meaning beautiful, fair, lovely and I wanted to continue that by naming her Chloe; meaning fair, green, blossom.”
So Chloe Luck McCoggles was officially born.
A hit at the 2014 Steamfest, Chloe Irish danced her way into the hearts of steampunk fanatics throughout the festival.
Look for her this weekend at Utah Winter Faire, December 5 -7, 2014. She’ll be joining the Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers on Saturday in the Arena at 4:30 p.m. and again on the main stage at 6:00 p.m. When not on stage she’ll be available for photos, and if you’re lucky enough to find one of her shamrocks throughout the Faire booths, you could win a sweet prize.
“The Utah Winter Faire is a cross genre event that brings magic back to the Winter season in northern Utah. In some ways it could be described as an indoor Renaissance Faire, but it is also more than that. Join us on the first weekend in December when History, Fantasy, Steampunk and more come together to create a truly unique experience.”
Click on the image for more information and to buy tickets to the event.
It doesn’t change just because you participate in Irish dance.
One of the few rules I try to live my life by, and fail every day trying I might add, is the Golden Rule.
I love the simplicity of the Golden Rule, its tendency to make everyone I interact with happier … and its tendency to make me happier as well.
It’s true: the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated in their place will ultimately lead to your own happiness.
Let’s say that you apply the Golden Rule in all of your interactions with other people, and you help your fellow dancers, you treat your family with kindness, you go the extra mile for your teacher, you help a stranger in need.
Now, those actions will undoubtedly be good for the people you help and are kind to … but you’ll also notice a strange thing. People will treat you better too, certainly. Beyond that, though, you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person and a trust in yourself.
Those are not small dividends. They are huge. And for that reason — not even considering that our world will be a better place if more people live by this rule — I recommend you make the Golden Rule a focus of your actions, and try to live by it to the extent that you can. I do, and although I’m not perfect and find myself making mistakes, I try.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some practical tips for living the Golden Rule in your daily life:
- Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of another person. Any person. Loved ones, fellow dancers, people you meet on the street. Really try to understand, to the extent that you can, what it is like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do.
- Practice compassion. Once you can understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, learn to want to end their suffering. And when you can, take even a small action to somehow ease their suffering in some way.
- How would you want to be treated? The Golden Rule doesn’t really mean that you should treat someone else exactly as you’d want them to treat you … it means that you should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do that. Imagine an interaction with a dancer from a different Irish dance school. You share a common love; Irish dance. So when you put yourself in their shoes (for us as Irish dancers that could be their ghillies), ask yourself how you think they want to be treated. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.
- Be friendly. When in doubt, follow this tip. It’s usually safe to be friendly towards others. Of course, there are times when others just don’t want someone acting friendly towards them, and you should be sensitive to that. You should also be friendly within the bounds of appropriateness. But who doesn’t like to feel welcome and wanted? Especially in the sometimes harsh Irish dance community.
- Be helpful. This is probably one of the greatest weaknesses of our community. Sure, there are many people who go out of their way to be helpful, and I applaud them. But in general there is a tendency to keep to yourself, and to ignore the difficulties of others. Don’t be blind to the troubles of others, especially in dance classes. Ask to help out.
- Be courteous in competition. Another weakness of our community. While I don’t personally compete (no one in our school does), there are few times when I’ve seen Irish dancers as selfish as in a competition. We don’t want to give up the right of way, we cut people off, we back-bite, and give each other stink-eye. Perhaps it’s the isolation of the feis. Most of us certainly don’t act that rude in person. So try to be courteous in competition.
- Listen to others. Another weakness: we all want to talk, but very few of us want to listen. And yet, we all want to be listened to. So take the time to actually listen to another person, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. It’ll also go a long way to helping you understand others.
- Overcome prejudice. We all have our prejudices, whether it’s based on skin color, attractiveness, height, age, gender, Irish dance school … it’s human nature, I guess. But try to see each person as an individual human being, with different backgrounds and needs and dreams. And try to see the commonalities between you and that person, despite your differences.
- Stop criticism. We all have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. However, ask yourself if you would like to be criticized in that person’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So hold back your criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
- Don’t control others. It’s also rare that people want to be controlled. Trust me on this one. It sucks. So don’t do it. This is a difficult thing, especially if we are conditioned to control people. But when you get the urge to control, put yourself in that person’s shoes. You would want freedom and autonomy and trust, wouldn’t you? Give that to others then.
- Be a child. The urge to control and criticize is especially strong when we are adults dealing with teaching children. In some cases, it’s necessary, of course: you don’t want the child to hurt herself, for example. But in most cases, it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of that child. Remember what it was like to be a child yourself, and to be criticized and controlled. You probably didn’t like it. How would you want to be treated if you were that child?
- Send yourself a reminder. Email yourself a daily reminder (or set a notification on your phone) to live your life by the Golden Rule, so you don’t forget. Or give yourself some other reminder throughout the day so that you don’t forget to follow the Golden Rule in all your interactions with others. Perhaps a fake golden ring on your keychain or laced into your hard shoes?
- Post it on your wall or make it your home page. The Golden Rule makes a great mantra, and a great poster.
- Rise above retaliation. We have a tendency to strike back when we’re treated badly. This is natural. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule isn’t about retaliation. It’s about treating others well, in spite of the way they choose to treat you. Does that mean you should be a doormat? No … you have to assert your rights, of course, but you can do so in a way that you still treat others well and don’t strike back just because they treated you badly first.
- Be the change. Gandhi famously told us to be the change we want to see in the world. Well, we often think of that quote as applying to grand changes, such as poverty and racism and violence. Well, sure, it does apply to those things … but it can also apply on a much smaller scale: to all the small interactions between Irish dancers. Do you want dancers to treat each other with more compassion and kindness? Then let it start with you. Even if the Irish dance community doesn’t change, at least you have.
- Notice how it makes you feel. Notice how your actions affect others, especially when you start to treat them with kindness, compassion, respect, trust, love. But also notice the change in yourself. Do you feel better about yourself? Happier? More secure? More willing to trust others, now that you trust yourself? These changes come slowly and in small increments, but if you pay attention, you’ll see them.
To end today’s post, I leave you with this:
“May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.
May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary
help to my friends and to all who are in need.
May I never fail a friend in trouble.” ~Eusebius of Caesarea
Irish dancers are a messy lot. Not as messy as the ballerinas I know (I dance in a ballet studio so I have first-hand knowledge) but pretty close. Once upon a time, my Irish dance bag was cluttered with all the things I currently needed — as well as dozens of things I didn’t: notes on steps, old performance programs, socks, bandages, bobby pins (kirby grips), hair elastics, old tights, ghillies, hard shoes, snacks, cds. I was too busy to organize it, and if I ever did get it cleaned out, it would pile up soon after.
It’s a different story today. These days my bag is always clear, except for my shoes, socks, and maybe a notebook and pen for jotting down notes, ideas, or to-dos as they come up. It’s a liberating feeling … it calms me … it reduces stress and chaos … it definitely makes things easier to find.
How did I make the transformation? Well, it wasn’t an easy journey, and I’ve improved over the years, but the basic steps are outlined below. The important thing to remember is that you must have a system in place, and you must teach yourself to follow the system. Otherwise, you just clean your dance bag, and it gets messy again.
Here’s the system:
1. First, take everything in your dance bag and put it in one big pile. Put it in your “in basket” (I use a cardboard box. If you don’t have one, pile it next to you or something). From now on, everything that comes in must go in your in basket, and you process everything as below.
2. Process this pile from the top down. Never re-sort, never skip a single item (even tiny elastics count), never put an item back on the pile. Do what needs to be done with that item, and then move on to the next in the pile. The options: trash it, put it away, do it, or put it on a list to do later. In that order of preference. Do it if it takes 2 minutes or less to complete. If it takes more, and you can’t trash or put it away, then put it on a list of to-dos.
3. Repeat at least once a week to keep your bag clear. The end of the day is best, but I tend to process and tidy up after Irish dance class. Once you’ve processed your pile, your dance bag is clear. You’ve trashed or somehow put everything where it belongs (not under your bed or stashed in a drawer). Keep it that way. You must follow the system above: put everything in your inbox, then take action on each item in the inbox with one of the steps listed.
It’s that simple. Have a phone number on a post-it? Don’t leave it in your bag. Put it in your phone or contacts program. Have a step combo you need to work on later? Don’t keep the note you wrote about it in your bag. Put it on your to-do list. What about all those hair accessories? Baggies work to keep everything together where you can find it.
Leaving stuff in your dance bag is procrastination (and as a procrastinator, I should know). If you put it off until later, things will be sure to pile up in your dance bag. Deal with them immediately, make a decision, take action.
What I’ve described is a good habit to learn, but it takes time to learn it. You’ll slip. Just remind yourself, and then do it. Soon it’ll be a habit you have a hard time breaking. And trust me, once you’re used to your dance bag being clear, you won’t want to break this habit.
What’s in your dance bag, fellow Irish dancers? And do you think it makes a difference on what you carry if you’re an adult or not? Let me know in the comments below!
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
Most days, I try to hold a 2-minute gratitude session. I simply sit or kneel, with no distractions, close my eyes, and think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for.
I don’t do it every day, but let me tell you, on the days I do it, it makes me very happy. Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I’m grateful for make such a big difference in my life?
Just a few reasons:
- Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life. It makes you happy about the people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some way.
- Because it turns bad things into good things. Having problems at dance? Be grateful you can dance. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges. Be thankful they make you a stronger person.
- Because it reminds you of what’s important. It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that you are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over not getting that step of your treble jig down when you are grateful you have the opportunity to dance in the first place.
- Because it reminds you to thank others. I’ll talk about this more below, but the simple act of saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you … just taking that minute out of your life to tell them why you are grateful toward them is important to them. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you little, but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will make you happy.
What do I give thanks for in my little gratitude session?
It changes from day to day. I thank my loved ones, for all they do for me. I thank strangers who’ve shown me little acts of kindness. I thank God, for the life he’s given me. I thank people around the world for the things they’ve done to make the world better. I thank myself, for things that I’ve been able to do (it’s important to recognize your own accomplishments). I thank my amazing Irish dance teacher, for the encouragement he has given me, for the time he has given me, for the example of love and kindness he shows me through his interaction with other dancers.
How to Live a Life of Gratitude
The thing is, simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much (especially once you get over the initial discomfort some people feel with thanking others). But they can make a huge difference.
If you’re interested in living a life of gratitude, here are my suggestions:
- Morning gratitude session. Take 2-3 minutes each morning to give thanks, to whoever or whatever you’re grateful for. You don’t have to do anything, other than close your eyes and silently give thanks. This one act can make a huge difference.
- Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
- Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. Perhaps you remember during your gratitude session. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person, just to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. It only takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them. Almost as good is a thank-you email — keep it short and sweet.
- Give thanks for “negative” things in your life. There are always two ways to look at something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to be creative.
Let me leave you with a thought on gratitude that I’ve always found … well, perfect:
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~