The students at Dunelavy Irish Dance raised money for Refugees in Rochester as their outreach project for Valentine's Day. Dunleavy is dedicated to getting involved and serving the community they live in. The students organize many different outreach projects throughout the year by volunteering their time, collecting donations, and raising money. They gathered school supplies that will help refugee children learn to read and write in English. The money that they raised will be donated to support the programs at Refugees Helping Refugees, a local service organization. By making these donations, Dunleavy Irish Dance wishes their community a Happy Valentine's Day!
Your child loves Irish dancing. They are skipping down the isles of the grocery store, tapping their feet under their school desks, you even had to tell them to stop dancing in the shower once. But how do you encourage practice without zapping the fun out? How do you support them if you are not a dancer yourself? Here are 10 ways you can become connected to their practice while still keeping it fun.
10) Put on a Show. If your child is like me, they love to perform and put on a show! Have them practice their steps in the other room and invite you in when they are ready. When I was a little girl I would even make tickets and sit up my stuffed animals to fill the audience, it was always a sold-out show!
9) Become your Dancer's Student. Let your dancer be the expert and teach you! Follow their lead and ask lots of questions. I guarantee you will both be laughing in stitches before the first lesson is over!
8) Music. Are you growing tired of that same reel playing over and over? Chances are your child is too! There are lots of great recordings out there that will inspire your dancer to put their shoes on and dance. Consider recordings from Anton & Sully or Stephen Carolan. Their music is fun and puts a modern twist on traditional Irish dance music.
7) Track Progress. Lots of dancers track their progress by recording their results from competitions, but there is also value in noting achievements with short-term goals. Take a three second video of your dancer performing a move that they are struggling with, like flutters, or rocks for example. Set a timer and give them ten minutes to practice this move and record it again when they are finished. View the two videos side by side so you can notice the difference. Practice is most effective when focused on small pieces, and you both will definitely improvements even with just ten minutes of work!
6) Counting Games. We play a lot of counting games in class that your dancer is familiar with that you can play at home. One way to play is having your child dance a step and count how many times the foot hits the butt, let's say it is supposed to hit 8 times. Then put on some music and count how many times their foot hits, they won't want to stop playing until they get it all 8 times! You can also break this game down into individual moves. For example, have your dancer do ten slices wearing hard shoes and count how many times they hit a click. You can play a lot of different ways, count how many diamonds between the feet they have while dancing the jig, how many times their toe rises above their knee, how many times their points are crossed, I'm sure they will make up their own ways to play, too! Get out your child's dance journal and record some of these so they can see improvement every time they play this game.
5) Stickers. Buy a pack of colorful dot stickers and put them on the heel of your child's dance shoes. They can look in the mirror and work on turning their feet out by looking for the stickers. Watching the stickers is more fun than just looking for the heels, and not nearly as tedious!
4) The Dollar Game.If your child is struggling with keeping their arms at their sides they will get a lot of benefit out of playing this game. Put a dollar bill between their arm and their hip and have them run through their steps. They will have to keep their arms pressed tightly against their sides to prevent the dollar from slipping out. Tell them if they can make it through all of their steps without losing the dollar they can keep it!
3) Breaking Down Goals. I'm sure your child has big goals with their dancing, but they may not know where to start and how to achieve them. Sit down with a calendar and their dancing journal and start breaking down their goals and making a plan. What are their lifetime goals? Break it down by year, and again by season. This will give a better idea about what their practice schedule should look like. Fill out their practice calendar, set a timer, and buy some cute stickers for the days they reach their goal. Who isn't motivated by cute stickers!? I recommend daily practice; 10 minutes for Beginner, 15 minutes for Advanced Beginner, 40 minutes for Novice, and an hour for Prizewinner and Championship.
2) Set the Stage. It's great to see your child skipping everywhere they go! It's clear that Irish dance is not just an activity for your child, it has become a way of life. However, all that jumping can be hard on the body without the correct surface. Building a dance stage gives your child a designated space where they can practice without getting injured. Many young dancers confess they dislike dancing on their stage because it is in the basement and they are scared to go downstairs alone. Create a dancing space for them that looks fun and is a place they want to spend their time by hanging their medals so they feel inspired and painting the walls their favorite color. If your home does not have the space for a full dance floor, consider purchasing a practice tile from Jubilee. They are lightweight, portable, and you can get a tile for under $40!
1) Practice Sneakers. Not ready to invest in a dancing floor but don't want to see your child injured? Practice sneakers provide a little extra cushion for dancers practicing on hard flooring. The split sole design allows the flexibility for pointing the toe and the material of the sole does not stick to the floor like most sneakers. Ruterford's offers several different kinds of practice sneakers.
No matter how your child practices, it is important to make sure they are enjoying themselves and having fun. Happy practicing!
I was smiling as I decorated the studio yesterday for Valentine's Day. I have found abundant love in the Dunleavy community time and time again; that hanging hand-made hearts from the ceiling seemed more like feelings being manifested into something tangible than merely a holiday decoration. In the spirit of Valentine's Day I thought Dunleavy Irish Dance could start a penny drive to donate to the Rochester non-profit Refugees Helping Refugees. I recently started volunteering there through the Bridges Program at Our Lady of Mercy. Over the past few months I've seen how the students in this program cherish their learning. It provides essential survival skills for their new lives in the Untied States. Encouraging children to donate pennies reinforces the culture of giving at a young age and the mindset that no donation is too small to make a difference. You can also bring in pens, pencils, notebooks, notecards, books, workbooks, or other learning supplies and I will deliver them to the Refugee Center. Together we can make a positive impact and help empower lives.
Every time I return to a picture, or replay a memory over in my mind of the Oireachtas my spirit fills with the same joy that I shared with nine families Thanksgiving weekend while in Philadelphia. The feelings are so strong because of the incredible level of intensity these girls poured into their dancing. The intensity so high, the passion so strong because fearlessly they put every ounce of energy into their performance. Taking witness to the product of such devotion goes well beyond the awe of artistic performance or astonishment of athletic capacity; it is soulful. It is this passion-fueled drive that touches in a spiritual way to all who observe it, where goosebumps and tears are the tangible signs you have been engulfed in the experience in communion with them. The passion in my heart is right alongside them, and yes, I still cry every time I watch the award ceremony video. These girls were training in class four, sometimes five nights a week, pushing together beyond every barrier of their mind and realizing they are limitless.. As we draft our goals I buzz with excitement for the future, I see a world of limitless possibilities and 120 students to explore it with.
Greatly looking forward to celebrating our new novice dancers and congratulating our winning Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas four-hand team. Open invitation to the community to join in on the fun!
With the coming of a new year, it is time for us dancers to reassess our goals and create New Years Resolutions. While at the Oireachtas one of our Dunleavy students proclaimed she had achieved her lifetime dancing goal; to win the championship cup and stand on the podium. An incredible moment to hear "I achieved my life goal" out of the mouth of a ten-year old! Getting our dancers on the top box was a goal of mine as well, however when the idea first came into my mind it seemed like a fantasy. So, what do we do when we achieve our wildest dreams?? Create dreams even wilder!
In the month of December we will be focusing on creating goals and writing 5-year plans: this is how we will create our 20/20 Vision. I am challenging our students to envision their projection based on the rate they are currently progressing, and then double it. This is how we will create our goals, by pushing ourselves beyond the limits of our own mind and creating a new reality. As Director at Dunleavy, it is my 20/20 Vision to support our dancers in achieving their wildest dreams.
I am looking forward to success in many years to come!!
10) Yoga Mat- A yoga mat can mean all the difference in making Core Class tolerable. You can pick one up at Target for under $10, but my favorite is made by Lulu Lemon.
9) Lauren Early's Book- Reaching New Heights by Irish dancer and personal trainer, Lauren Early provides a step-by-step strength and conditioning guide for specifically improving performance for competitive Irish dance. Some other good books include; The Little Book of Inspiration for Irish Dancers by Sean Connolly, Parade of Champions by Elise Wright, and the Liffey Rivers series by Brenna Briggs.
8) Headband- A headband is the colorful and stylish way to keep those annoying hairs out of your face during dance practice. Some popular bands are made by Lulu Lemon and Under Armour.
7) Practice Sneakers- With practice sneakers, your dancer can jig everywhere! Rutherford Shoes offers a variety of brands and styles.
6) Dance Music- Expanding your music library is a great way to pump up your dancer's practice. Some of my favorite albums include; Going for Gold by Dean Crouch, Feis Music 1 & 2 by Sean O'Brien, and the Feis Album 1, 2, 3, & 4 by Anton and Sully.
5) Foam Roller- Keep your muscles long for improved flexibility for dancing by using a foam roller. My favorite company is The Trigger Point.
4) Subscription to IDM- Your dancer will look forward to each month with a subscription to Irish Dancing Magazine.
3) Resistance Bands- Keeping foot and ankle ligaments injury-free is essential for every dancer, and resistance bands are the key.
2) Jig the Movie- Follow the story of dancers gearing up for, and competing at the World Championships in Jig. Other great movies to keep your Irish dancer entertained include; Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Dancing on Dangerous Ground, and Heartbeat of Home. Tickets to the latest production by Michael Flately would be a hit too, I'm sure!
1) Camps at Dunleavy- What better gift for your Irish dancer than more Irish dance!? Purchase a camp online at the Dunleavy store, and we will send you a certificate you can wrap and put under the tree. Stop by our Christmas Party on Saturday, December 12th from 12:00-3:00 for some other great gift opportunities.