Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Dancing dream

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

Nearly 4 years ago, when she was just 2, Sweetie fell in love with the Irish dancers at our town's Irish Festival. I've always loved the music and dancers too, but she was absolutely mesmerized, even as far from the stage as we sometimes were. She stood on my lap, clapping, bouncing, and pointing. 

Sweetie at 2 years old, clapping to the dancers

When I set her down, she started dancing immediately, and over the next few days (weeks, and months), we were astonished to see how much detail she'd picked up as she watched. She pointed her toes, she kicked up her legs, she brought her foot to her knee. On the car ride home, she started asking for "Irish songs" and then wanted the one I already had on my phone "again!" and "again!", causing me to download more songs in a weekend than I usually do in months. I figured it would be a phrase that she'd outgrow in a few weeks, but by the time the next festival rolled around the following year, she was dancing in an unmistakably Irish style anytime she heard music (and plenty of music-less times)!

That summer, at 3, she self-taught-Irish-stepped her way around every dance floor at the festival, to the delight of all the musicians on stage and all our fellow festival-goers. One local band even invited her up to the stage to dance with them, but she couldn't quite figure out if that was really ok. We scoured the festival program and tried to hit every dance show we could!

3 years old, dancing in front of the dancers

Most thrilling for her, she got to participate in an Irish dancing lesson from a local Irish dance school at the dance floor in the children's area. That did it. She started telling everyone she was an Irish dancer! 

her first "lesson" / first time dancing "on stage" <3 

This was definitely not a phase. Whenever she met someone new, she'd declare that she was a dancer and break into something that definitely resembled a jig enough that the new person would grin and say, "Oh yeah, Irish! I see!" Thankfully, the spring she turned 4, the local Irish dance school decided to add pre-beginner class sessions for kids as young as 4, so she finally got to start learning real steps instead of making them up! All summer, she practiced her jig steps: "cross over, up, back-two-three-four", until it was finally time for another Irish Festival. Now, she knew the teachers and some of the "big dancers" from her school, so we targeted their shows on the program and she spent her weekend waving wildly and pointing to the dancers she knew. Now, she was starting to talk about someday dancing on the stage.

4 years old, waving to her teachers as they danced on stage!

We spent every waking minute of the festival weekend watching dancers, and we signed her up for the 3-day mini-camp at her dance school the week after the festival.

1st mini-camp, she's the one in the air on the right!

Now that she was an official student of the dance school, we got to attend their ceili (Irish dance event) in February 2020, where we all learned to do reels just before the world shut down.

ceili reel!

In August 2020, we danced at home to a livestream "festival" with footage from previous years and Sweetie moved up to real beginner level, earning a practice uniform and real ghillies (soft shoes)! All this school year, her little sister frolicked around her in our family room as she did her lessons on Zoom, finally looking like a real Irish dancer, but with nobody to see her. 

Zoom lesson, in her practice uniform!

This past weekend, nearly 4 years after that festival when she fell in love with the dancers, her dance school had an outdoor recital, right on one of the stages used during the festival! 4 years of dreaming, pretending, and practicing, and now here she was, in a beginner performance uniform, doing the cutest two-hand jig (with masks and no hand-holding) that has ever been performed. 

3rd from the left (with her leg way up)!

in her uniform, watching the older dancers, still dreaming

After the beginners danced, the school even surprised them by calling them back up on stage to receive "first recital" medals, which she insisted on wearing the rest of the day. "I want everyone to know I'm a dancer and I got a medal!" she declared. 

What a pleasure it is to watch as a dream dances in your child's heart!


  1. Oh,Jennifer, I'm getting weepy eyed over here! This is a precious documentation of her dream coming to fruition. The photo essay is so cool. I love learning about Irish dancing in your post. I'm so happy for her, and you. That last sentence sums it up so beautifully.

  2. What a beautiful story of passion and commitment!! Congratulation to the young dancer!!

  3. Your closing sentence is so joyful! Great story!


Comments make me happy and I'd love to hear from YOU! :-)