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If You’re Determined to Be a Better Irish Dancer, You Will Be


 Photo credit: user Shane@Diddlyi

The one thing I’ve noticed that will reveal if a dancer will succeed in reaching their potential is how determined they are to get there. I [used to teach] Beginner and Novice classes at The Shelley School of Irish Dance and have been amazed to see how goal oriented a young dancer can be, and in retrospect how lazy and uninterested they can be in reaching the goals set before them.

Those who are determined to perfect the new steps they are learning are the ones who advance quicker and have more fun. They are the ones who will be competing in Championships in no time. It has nothing to do with their natural ability. It is true, however, that dancers who have the natural ability to kick higher or pick up new steps faster are more likely to get excited about Irish Dance, but if a dancer who isn’t as naturally able is determined, they can reach their goals as well as any natural.

I bring this up since I have been thinking about it a lot recently. Dance really is mind over muscle. I’m not saying it isn’t harder for some than others, what I’m saying is that if you put your whole heart into dancing and improving, you will become the dancer you want to be. It is inevitable, if you refuse to quit. If you never quit you will always be improving and becoming better than you were yesterday.

Maybe I’m getting a little deep, but there are some dancers at The Shelley School who inspire me so much. I just look at their determined faces as they attempt to perform their Novice Reel to perfection. I remember dancing my Novice steps the same way. I had to do it my best every time or I just wasn’t pleased with myself. I was only holding myself back from getting to Championships if I didn’t give everything I had every time. It’s so exciting for me to watch other dancers have the same determination. Those are the dancers that will be competing against me in Open Championships very soon.

A few weeks before I competed in my first Oireachtas, I learned  that I would be competing against 40 other dancers, all dancers who had the same determination to improve and compete with perfection. I felt so privileged to compete against such wonderful goal oriented dancers who were just as determined to get to Open Championship as I was. At the time, this was the most difficult competition I had ever gone up against. The prospect of competing against these amazing dancers pushed me to constantly work hard towards my goals and also helped me to continue to do so after the Oireachtas. Plus, the beauty of staying determined and working towards your goals is that it almost always guarantees you’ll do better the next time around.


For more from Shelly, check out her Irish dance blog & art on


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  1. this was really incourging for me because i am not really a natural dancer but i would love to be in the champianships one day i douted this for a while but reading this just then gave me a boost of convidence thank you.

  2. i totally agree with you because like your self im not a natural dancer and i also would like to be in the championships one day too but now after iv read this iv been so much more confident and i an starting to higher placing in my pre-opens (if ur american or something else i dont know what you would call it) and my teachers are noticing an improvment so thankyou shelly xx

  3. Your welcome! It's all true! Most dancers who never make it to Championship are those who gave up before they got a chance. Take it from someone who watched the dancers around her win much faster while she slowly worked her way up for many years haha… it takes longer for some of us. 🙂 The key is to only compare yourself to yourself.

  4. I agree with you on this. It makes me inspired to be a good and better dancer someday. To show my hiddden talents and improve it.

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