Encouragement For the Late Beginner
It has come to my attention that my personal story in my other dancing essay can be quite discouraging to other late beginners, which defeats the whole purpose of this site! Therefore, I have dedicated this essay to my fellow late beginners in the hope that I can provide some form of positivity in a dancing world that may be full of negativity for them.
The definition of a late beginner in Irish dancing seems to be any dancer who has taken up lessons at the age of ten or later. This does not mean that the late beginner should, for any reason, be discouraged by this! Au contraire! I signed up for Irish dancing classes when I was fourteen-and-a-half. I make the distinction to show that I was pretty much almost fifteen by the time I became a Beginner: def-someone who probably has no prior dancing experience; a totally green dancer.
If you intend to be a competitive dancer, consider the following example. I myself did not move up in the levels any faster than the standard four year-old beginner, but I know of dancers who began when they were the same age as me and, within a year, had traversed into the realm of Novice: def-the competition level generally reached in the dancer's second or third year. So it is extremely possible that you can be as "good" as those dancers you quickly come to admire, though you've been dancing half the time as some of them! I'm not only talking about people under eighteen here either! Adult dancers can compete as heavily as their younger counterparts, so don't think you've been given the shaft!
What if your chosen path in Irish dancing does not include heavy competition? You're in luck! There has been a surge in the number of adult dance classes in the past few years, many of which also double as performing troupes. Most of these are available from your local Irish Dance school but many are now being formed completely on their own! You don't have to be of a professional level to join one of these troupes, either. My high school guidance counsellor danced with one of these adult troupes and she had had no experience at all doing Irish Dancing before she began and she was having a blast! Not to mention putting on a pretty show at the Cincinnati Celtic Festival!
In the above examples, though few, I have been attempting to show to you late beginners out there that there are more opportunities for you than you may initially think! Don't let anyone shut you out or make you think that you're "less of an Irish dancer" just because you began late. We can't help that we were never exposed to it as little tykes! What we can help is what we do with our love for Irish Dancing once we have been exposed to it.
You're only as good a dancer as you make yourself, and that goes for late beginners as well as those who have been dancing their entire lives.