Dancing has helped people of all ages their spirits up through lockdown, despite not being able to come together to enjoy it.
However, that has not deterred dance teachers Theresa O’Donoghue and Hannah O’Sullivan, Scoil Rince Carney, who teach classes in Bantry, Kealkil, Ballydehob, Castletownbere and Eyeries and who have worked tirelessly to keep students motivated and passionate about their training.
‘It has been very challenging times, for both dancers and teachers,’ said Theresa.
‘Not allowed back into classes has meant that teachers and students had to embrace digital technology. Live Facebook classes, Zoom quiz nights along with WhatsApp group challenges ensured that dancing was able to continue for all students of all levels.’
More recently, the CLRG Munster Council organised its first ever online feis. ‘For parents who were used to travelling the county attending feisenna, the online event was a welcome return to competitions. It had its challenges, but all the children embraced the new norm and the results were outstanding,’ added Theresa.
‘Recognising the strain restrictions are having on our youngsters has made it even more important for SRC to keep on dancing, albeit remotely.’
Some of the feedback received from parents included things like ‘Irish dancing has been a godsend to my daughters,’ ‘dancing has helped keep some normality in our lives,’ and ‘we miss going to class, but still being able to dance makes it ok.’
Theresa most recently offered her time to Coomhola National School in Bantry and also to Mountbruis National School in Tipperary sending video tutorials on ballroom dancing. The children learnt the basic steps in a variety of dances such as the waltz, quickstep, salsa, cha cha cha and ceili.
The feedback and response to the online teaching was phenomenal and everyone seemed to embrace the dancing and have fun!
Dancing also has its benefits for adults, as seen with the hugely successful Strictly Come Dancing Bantry, in aid of St Finbarr’s Boys’ National School. It started in 2018, with Theresa as part of the judging panel, and then in 2019 she was asked to take over the dance teaching and choreography of the event. Josie joined Theresa and as TJ Productions, they created two fantastic shows for 2019 and two shows for 2020, but due to restrictions the final was cancelled.
‘Dancing has helped the Strictly Class of 2020 immensely, they embraced the dance challenges put to them by us through WhatsApp. The participating adults are living proof how dance helps lift the spirits,’ they said.