9.17.2012

Adult enough?

You lovely blog readers know that I began my Irish dance journey as a tender young adult, aged 18.  The overall response I've received is one of admiration, and also hope.  Hope for other college-aged dancers that wanted to dance as a kid, but didn't.  Hope for young teens who think that 13 is too old to begin a new sport.  I never thought I'd be hated on for not being "adult" enough to be featured in an adult Irish dancer post.

I had a lovely little spotlight on IrishCentral.  One of the responses to this post is below, and it really got me thinking, am I not an adult?
By adult? She's what...19? It would be nice to see coverage of "real adults" those of us who still love the dance and love to compete but cannot find room in the modern Irish dance world for the over 21 crowd. Most schools do not afford classes for us unless we want to be with a bunch of 15 yr old kids. I have now moved to Highland Dancing because the rules aren't so strict, and they afford me classes with people in their 20s and 30s who competed when we were much younger.
The last I checked, adults were classified as any one over the age of 18.   I will admit though: I have a baby face.  I regularly get confused with a high school aged teenager, and constantly get asked when I'm graduating from high school.  Little do these adults know that I have actually graduated from college and have a teaching career.

If you're talking about being an adult and having adult responsibilities (e.g.: money handling), I have paid for almost every aspect of dance myself (excepting travel and lodging to major competitions).  From day one, I paid all my dance tuition myself, and all the costuming fees from shoes to wigs.  I've paid the entry fees to all feiseanna I've been to.  I did all this with a part-time library page salary while taking 16+ college credits.  If this isn't adult responsibility, please tell me what is.

I did spend the first few years of my dancing career in classes where the next oldest dancer was 15.  I get it, it's awkward.  What I've found though is if you are in the right dance school climate for you, the other dancers will accept this.  In my case, I was a big sister, and when the other adult dancer joined class with us, none of the younger kids thought twice.  We were all just there to dance, it didn't matter the age.  If you don't feel welcome somewhere as an adult dancer, try looking for other options in your area.  I currently dance with other dancers who are my age.  Yes, there are still teens in class, but there are regularly other dances who are college-aged or just starting their own careers.

Hopefully other younger adult dancers do not experience anything like this.  I also hope that 'real adults' do realize there is something for the over 21 crowd in Irish dancing.  Heck, there is a whole age group in CLRG called 21 and over!  Other Irish dancing organizations have age groups that go even older.  The CLRG may not be the most "adult friendly" due to its highly competitive nature, but that doesn't mean that there are no options for adult dancers!

Goals: do PT exercises
Days till Os: 74

5 comments:

  1. In Mainland Europe adults are a huge part of dancers. Age groups "over 30" or even "over 35" are common at our feisanna, and many dance schools concentrate on adults. I've attended a few dance camps, and the number of kids was way lower than adults. And my dance school's branch in Wroclaw, Poland, doesn't even have a class for kids, since we don't have enough children interested.

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  2. This comment must have been from a person who dances because she enjoys the socializing aspect. I am 24, in a class with girls ranging from 11-15 and while I do have fun with them, I'm there to dance. I dance because I love DANCE, and I'll do it whether or not it is suited to my age group. That is what makes real adult Irish dancers SO AWESOME! You dance despite your adult restrictions, and responsibilities and that absolutely confirms how adult you are.

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  3. Well said! When I started dancing (in grade 6), my dance-classmates ranged in age from 6-86 (not exaggerating) all in one class. It was a great experience and I wouldn't change it for anything. I can't tell you how often I still think about that 86 year old dancer, who emigrated from Ireland, still competing in feiseanna! She was fabulous at the fast hornpipe, let me tell you! Adult dancers, 20something champs like you and recreational dancers alike, are a wonderful part of this community & should be celebrated.

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  4. Yeah I'm starting to get back into Irish dancing after a 4 years hiatus due to injuries, college and then getting married. I'm 26 and in my champ class the ages range from 9 to 46! Our oldest champ has worked and pushed himself and has gone to worlds! Age doesn't matter as long as you are still passionate about dancing and want to continually push and improve yourself. It also helps that our TCRG loves adults and encourages them to dance as long as they are able to whatever level they want to pursue. I wish that this attitude was shared by all the teachers in the CLRG organization.

    If you want to dance then nothing as silly as age should stop you.

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  5. I am a 26 year old whose been taking class with 6-18 year olds the whole time I've been studying Irish dance, and I've never had an issue with the age difference. I started just shy of my 20th birthday...so definitely an "Adult," and I really relate to your post. I've had to support my entire journey in Irish dance almost completely singlehandedly, and by that I mean that my parents bought me a wig once for Christmas and my mom and I split travel expenses if she comes with me to a feis. Everything else I pay for...tuition, solo dress, private lessons, commuting costs (my studio is an hour one way), shoes, entry fees, etc. I've always considered my age something of a handicap I've had to overcome, because I'm not always at peak physically and I've had a plethora of injuries, but I dance because I love to. Being in class with young people has pushed me in a way I might not have pushed myself. I don't have this problem now, but when I started, I lacked drive because I thought that I was too old to take dance seriously anymore (I was a burnt out, injured, ex-ballet dancer). But once I caught hold of the dream, that was it. I was hooked and I started working hard. I finally qualified Preliminary Champion recently and the goal is to recall at the Southern Region Oireachtas this year and I eventually want to be an Open dancer and qualify for Nationals...later on Worlds. Not planning to quit :) I'm glad I found your blog. It's nice to know there are dancers out there with similar backgrounds and goals. See you at the SRO's!

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