By Claire

Hope loves to dance! Whether it is Irish dance, ballet, tap, or just boogying to the music at home, Hope loves it all. Hope started Irish dancing when she was in kindergarten, at the age of 6. Her older sister Therese had danced with the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance for many years, and when Hope’s time came, she was ready. The school could not have been more friendly and accommodating. The class Hope started in was very small, so, after consulting with her instructor, Sheila Ryan, we decided to try it without an aide. This worked fine, and because the instructor teaches the class with the help of drillers (generally high school dancers), there has been no need for any special assistance even in the larger classes Hope now attends.

Impact Dance Studio also is blessed with wonderfully patient and skilled teachers. Impact Dance has offered the “Butterflies” class for dancers with disabilities for many years, and a number of the dancers in this longstanding group are in their twenties. Just last year, Impact Dance started another such group, the “Caterpillars.” Hope and her friend Maria Meyer joined. Because of the small size of the class, they have temporarily combined the Caterpillar class with another class. Hope and Maria now have added tap to their repertoire, and were able to perform in their first recital in June. (Hope and Maria would love to be joined by other Caterpillars!)

The benefits of dance for Hope have been many.

The benefits of dance for Hope have been many. Irish dance requires balance and coordination, as the steps are performed with one leg and then the other. Timing also is important, so dancers must learn to count the beats in the music to know when to begin and then must step in time with the music. These aspects have been challenging to Hope, but she is progressing. One trick that Hope learned at Trinity is practicing the timing of your steps with your hands. At one family reunion a few years ago, Hope intrigued many of her relatives by teaching them how to “dance with your hands.” Hope has not performed at competitions or shows, but she received a medal at Trinity’s Family Feis (an intramural competition), and she has performed at family parties, for her second grade class, and for many of her teachers and therapists (a big hit on St. Patrick’s Day). She loves dressing up in her costume, wig, and ghillies, and she can jig up a storm with her sister and sometimes even entices her brothers Matt and Nick –who also attended Trinity for a time – to dance along with her.

We don’t know how long Hope will be able to keep up with the rigors of Irish dance, but we expect her new class at Impact Dance to provide her with an outlet for her love of dancing for some time. Besides the huge camaraderie bonus of being able to see her good friend Maria at Impact Dance each week, Hope’s strength, endurance, and confidence are increasing as she learns other styles of dance and continues to make new friends.



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