Preface

Today…I didn’t work all day. Nor did I just do something average or normal. Today, I didn’t just live I did something out of the box.

Today, I attended an Irish Dance Workshop that was put on by the Omaha Creative Institute in partnership with the Omaha Sister Cities Association. The workshop was held at the Motion 41 Dance Studio in Omaha. The workshop cost $10.00, if I remember correctly. But I would have paid much more for this wonderful experience.

I’ll preface a little by saying that I did not attend this workshop because of an overwhelming desire to learn Irish Dance. In all actuality, I had no idea what Irish dance consisted of or what I was getting into.  I simply went because I wanted to do something out of the box.

Let’s start from the beginning…

One never really knows what to expect when you try something new and different. This was the case for me. I really had no idea what a dance workshop might entail, or what types of people might be attending. I envisioned being in a line consisting of several strangers, watching a dance instructor demonstrate the moves that we, the group, were about to attempt. I was actually fairly close to the mark, but with a few exceptions, which I will explain later.

On arriving at the Motion 41 Dance Studio, we were met by Molly, our Concierge. Once everyone that had signed up for the workshop was present, we signed a waiver vowing not to sue anyone if our dance attempts ended up on America’s Funniest Videos. Well, maybe it was just a waiver saying that they could post pictures of us on their website. But in my mind, the waiver said something like: “We know that you are going to make a fool of yourself today. And you, the above mentioned person, about to make a complete fool of yourself, agree that you will not hold us liable when your actions are recorded and go viral on the internet. At that moment, in my mind, I could see a news anchor somewhere starting with “And now, just when you thought that you’d seen everything….” Well, you get the picture.

Then it was go time. From here, we were led through a labyrinth of corridors to a magical room, where things seemed a little different somehow. A place where I knew that I was about to do something that was a little out of my comfort zone, and yet I didn’t really care. A place where I wouldn’t be judged by my performance, and, well, if I had hair, I could let it down. The one thing I didn’t really envision, and noted above that I would explain later, is that everyone felt just like me. Even though our ages ranged from the low teens to maybe somewhere in the 60’s, I felt like I was in a room of little kids, back in grade school, getting ready for the big spring concert. No deadlines, no CEO’s, bosses or customers. Just people. People just like me.

Getting started

Our first adventurous task was to stretch. This was the point where I wish that I was wearing something other than blue jeans. After that, Our Dance instructor (Shannon Ryan), began to teach us the basic steps and encouraged us to twist our feet in ways that I’m pretty sure they were not meant to go. We progressed, slowly, through the different parts of the dance and eventually ended up in teams where we attempted to learn the routine on our own, with some occasional desperate cries going out to Shannon, asking her to show us one move or another ‘Just one more time’.

The people

Sometimes, I think that we get so entangled in just maneuvering our way through life that we forget to really notice the people around us. In doing so, I think we miss out on the best part of  any experience like this. I watched everyone at least a little, and mostly just envied the way that they all picked up the dance so quickly. There was even one woman who I swear must actually be Irish. She was a little older than most of us, but was definitely showing us all up. And me, well I felt a little (a lot) dance challenged. I say that jokingly, of course. Because again, I felt like no one was judging me or anyone else. Molly however, who was good enough to fill in as my partner since our numbers were uneven, ignored my two left feet like a trooper.

There was also a girl, just in 10th grade, and the youngest by far, bless her sweet heart, in a crowd of people much older than her. To me, she was like a little lion, and the bravest of us all. And John, who was a little older than me, but far my superior in Irish Dance. John, being  involved in the orchestration of the workshops themselves, likely had a lot of other important things on his to do list, gave up part of his Saturday afternoon to be an example for me to try to follow.

Shannon, did a great job of  teaching us the wonders of Irish Dance. I’m not sure why each time she was watching me try to perform the dance steps, she had her hand over her mouth. But, I’m pretty sure it was just a confirmation that I was learning very quickly. Really though Shannon, you did a great job of explaining and teaching and your class was truly a joy to attend. And, I swear I did better when you were not watching. Visit the Craoí na Tíre website for more information about Shannon’s dance studio, also in Omaha.

The dance that we all attempted to learn, was the Irish Walls of Limerick dance. Shannon described this dance as a social (céilí) dance.  The dance is considered a social dance because you normally perform the dance in a group of several couples and switch partners often as the dance progresses. It was a heck of a lot of fun trying to learn the dance. The only problem I really had with the whole process was trying to figure out which left foot to start with. My apologies go out to anyone there that had to watch my attempts at this dance. I hope I haven’t somehow scarred you, or caused you to have one of those dreams where the same scene just plays over and over, in which you say ‘No, the other foot’, but then I get it wrong again. Seriously though, I think I did actually get it right a few times. Either way, I had a lot of fun.

I left this ‘outofthebox’ experience with an new found appreciation for Irish Dance and caught myself remembering my grandma, who’s maiden name was Kern. She had blazing red hair and often reminded everyone of her Irish background. I think that if she were watching from above on this day, well, she was probably laughing… a lot. But, it would have been a happy laugh. And she would have been proud of  both of my left feet.

In Summary

What a great experience! For just a little while, I forgot about designing software, deadlines, customer requirements and 14 hour work days. For a while I was able to experience something that I truly believe at my core. That we are all just little kids on the inside, no matter how big our body. And, that even though we come from different walks of life, we are all much the same. Not better, not worse. All of us just trying to learn something new and experience something different, maybe even something out of our box.

In the end, I’m so glad I stepped out of my box and tried something new. I now have the building blocks for a new skill and something new and different to talk about. Mostly though, I’m just thankful that I was fortunate enough to meet all of the people in the Irish Dance workshop. Thank you for being part of my story. My story is better because of you.

And, by the way, if you were at the workshop, and someday you just happen to run across one of my friends and they comment about how I turned down the invitation to display my amazing dancing skills on ‘Ireland’s Got Talent’…….please just play along. 😉

There are several more workshops available from the Omaha Creative Institute. I highly recommend that you sign up for at least one.

 

Just a few pictures from my amazing day…

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If you would like to see an example of this dance, here is a link that will give you an idea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9A7uEOxWyU.