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How to Deal With A Pre-Oireachtas Breakdown In Irish Dancing


Ally Giannini is an Open Champion dancer for the Lenihan School of Irish Dance as well as a student at Fairfield University. She loves keeping updated on all things Irish Dance. For more from Ally, follow her on twitter @ally_geeniee019.

It doesn’t matter where you are, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, the Pre-Oireacthas Breakdown will hit you. You’ve been trying to stay positive and are practicing hard, but no matter how hard you try, you feel like you’re just not good enough. When you dwell on this too long you get what I like to call a Pre-Oireachtas Breakdown. Symptoms include sobbing, panic, and despair. Here is how I usually handle this:

1 – Recognize that you are having a Pre-Oireachtas Breakdown – Take a deep breath and say these words “There is nothing wrong with me, I am just having a Pre-Oireachtas Breakdown.” It’s ok to feel overwhelmed by the experience of an Oireachtas because it is a big deal.

2 – Identify the problem – Try to pinpoint what it is exactly that is making you stressed. I go into detail in my post “Every Irish Dancer’s Worst Enemies and How to Defeat Them” about three of the most common stressors.

3 – Take a break – I suggest that you take a break from Irish Dance for a few minutes or hours, especially if your breakdown occurs at dance class. Sit and stretch for a few minutes or listen to some of your favorite non-Irish Dancing songs. If possible, take a walk to clear your head. Cry if you need to. Holding in tears has never made me feel any better.

4 – Say these words to yourself – “I am a beautiful dancer and everything is going to be ok.” Say these words over and over again until you mean them. You belong in your competition and no matter what the result is, you get to go up on stage and show everybody how much you love to dance.

If you see a friend experiencing a Pre-Oireachtas Breakdown give them a hug and guide them through these steps. My friends from dance class have always been a great support system. Lean on your friends, parents and dance teachers and provide support in return. It’s amazing what you can achieve together.

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

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