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The Power Of An Irish Dancing Compliment

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Erin is a 20-something Irish dancer competing in the Southern Region with Nashville Irish Step Dancers. She splits her time between dance and her career in social media marketing. Her favorite part of dancing is meeting new & inspiring people. Connect with her on Twitter @erinforevr.

Seated side-stage in a cold metal folding chair my feet shuffled frantically, kicking through my steps.  I couldn’t sit still.  The anxiety was immense as I thought of all the reasons this performance mattered so much and dwelled on the fear of forgetting my steps.

Other competitors were seated beside me. Girls in vibrant jewel-emblazoned dresses were following in my nervous pre-performance routine. One girl sat very still, another fiddled with her skirt hem, and another chattered nervously.

Then, the girl sitting beside me caught my eye and said with sincerity, “I really love your dress!  The crystals on it are wonderful.”

The tension left my shoulders.  My feet ceased flailing beneath my seat. My brain relaxed and finally I began to smile.  This sudden clarity allowed me to notice how lovely this fellow-dancer’s hairpiece was (a tiara of stunning oval AB crystals), and I told her so.

My adrenaline was still flowing when we walked on stage.  But the usual fear and nerves had been replaced with a positive self-image. At that moment, I knew I’d be dancing with a little extra pep in my step, no matter if I flubbed my timing or forgot a piece.

That is the power of a compliment.

We’re all taught growing up to treat others the way we want to be treated.  But we overlook the impact that a simple comment, kind or harsh, can have.

An Open Champion level friend of mine was struggling in her relationship with Irish dance. She started to question her place in the competitive dance world as college loomed ahead of her.

After a dance class one day a younger Advanced Beginner dancer timidly approached my friend.

Catching my friend’s eye the girl said shyly,

“I just wanted to tell you that when you’re dancing you look so happy, like an angel or a fairy.  I practiced my over 2-3’s all summer so they could look as pretty as yours.”

Her words struck a cord. My friend found a renewed sense of purpose in her dancing and stuck with it for many more years.  Moreover she developed a lasting friendship with that younger dancer.

As an athlete you never know who looks up to you or whom you inspire.  Next time a dancer stands out in your eyes TELL THEM, regardless of the reason. Those words can be extremely influential.

A kind word can be the beginning of a wonderful friendship, it can turn an entire dance career around, or it may simply calm someone’s nerves.

So, dancers, when it comes to compliments, let’s pay it forward – and let the power of our words work their magic.

Photo credit: Image is courtesy of and belongs to author.


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