Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Coming out of dancing retirement at 25...

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion."          
 - Martha Graham

In my high school yearbook, that was the quote next to my senior picture. That was 8 years ago. [Want to know a secret? I just cringed typing "8 years ago."]  

Despite having stopped competing in 2004, my passion for Irish dance has not diminished in my "retirement." Why? Well, let's take a journey to the past & I'll give you the abridged version...

At age 12, I attended my first real Irish dancing class [not including the time my mother dragged the whole family to a ceili class in approximately the 4th grade] and fell in madly in love. From the get go, Wednesday night classes with the Butler School of Irish Dance were more than an after school activity in the Bingo hall of St. Martha's Church.  I made a new best friend [shout-out to Rayna Gubersky] and we spent any and all free time practicing, choreographing new dances, wearing out our VHS tapes of Riverdance, building websites about Irish dance, and designing our dream solo costumes. Suddenly, Irish dance was all I wanted to do. 

Rayna: My dancing BFF and partner in crime...and 2-Hands 
Competition was never something I was crazy about. I loathed the swim meets and piano competitions I'd participated in over the years. That all changed when I found out about Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, the World Championships of Irish Dance. From that point on, I knew where I needed to go: Worlds! 

Over a 4 year period, I worked my way from beginner to Open Champion. My loving parents built me a stage on our back porch, where I danced countless hours a day in the Florida heat. On top of my regular 2-3 classes a week with the Drake School of Irish Dance, I attended workshops with world renowned dancers and teachers at Boston College's Gaelic Roots and Camp Rince Ceol.  In 2003, my relentless practicing earned me a spot on the podium of the Southern Region Oireachtas and qualified me for the 2004 World Championships in Belfast. I had achieved my goal, and it was a dream come true!

In 2004, I graduated high school and began college. As any college Irish dancer will tell you, finding the time to practice is next to impossible, especially when your dance school is hours away. So I hung up my shoes and stopped competing. I didn't forget about dance entirely. I danced with a school club and worked for 3 summers at Camp Rince Ceol. I've had the joy of watching some of my best friends tour in Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Feet of Flames. I still mindlessly dance steps on my fingers, and doodle new costume designs. Dance has never been far from my mind. 

SRO 2011: Haley, Ailill, Kelsey, Paul, and me
As 2011 came to a close, I attened the Southern Regional Oireachtas in Orlando, Florida. While watching the dancing with Ailill, my old friend and former 8-hand partner [Gates of Derry, 2003 Oireachtas champs!], I knew it was time to dust off my shoes. The next part of my journey as a dancer will be notably different. I'll be interning at a non-profit dance school in a small town [in contrast to competing under a TCRG] and helping young dancers prepare for community performances and recitals. Despite the changes, the atmosphere is the same: a school of dance centered around learning and loving dance. And as 2012 begins, I couldn't be more excited :)

- Moira


  1. Moira! Not sure if you remember me but I wish you all the best in your dancing goals! I think I've hung up my dancing shoes (for now?) but it's hard to forget about Irish dancing all together. I'll follow along your blog :) Good luck and have tons of fun! What school are you teaching for now?

  2. Hi Carlanna! Of course I remember you!! Also, you look AMAZING :) I'll definately be reading your blog for some get-your-butt-in-the-gym inspiration!! I'm actually teaching with a non-profit dance school called the Williston School of Dance. They teach ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and Irish. It's SO different from competing, but it's pretty awesome. The teacher has workshops with TCRGs pretty often, and the kids are awesome. Next step: Get my TCRG :) Great to hear from you and thanks for checking out my blog!!

  3. Hey Fischy! Kudos for getting back in the game!! :o)


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