Teaching an Irish tradition of dance; Area instructor starts full-time lessons
Published 10:49 am Friday, May 15, 2015
The toes must be pointed, according to Sandra Ewing. The hands should be held firm at one side. The back must be straight. And when you point your foot, you need to have it be pointed firm, yet light.
“Look, you should just have barely a nail on the floor,” she told the class of elementary and middle school students Thursday.
More than a dozen sprightly students took in another lesson on Irish dancing from Ewing, a certified Irish dance instructor who has danced for decades and coached World Championship-caliber dancers.
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“It’s nice to pass on the culture,” she said. “It’s nice to pass on the techniques and make so many friends along the way.”
Ewing first got her teaching license in 2006. Since then, she has taught hundreds of students how to perform a variety of complicated Irish dances: The Reel, the Slip Jig, the Light Jig, followed by several kinds of traditional and heavy dances for students who show great promise.
She taught sporadically since she and her family came to the area about a year and a half ago, but now she has dedicated herself to teaching full-time.
Ewing already teaches weekly classes in LeRoy and Adams, but she will add more classes in Rochester and Austin this summer and fall.
As the only certified Irish dance instructor in southeast Minnesota, Ewing is able to take her students to feiseannas, or competitions, where students are graded and ranked. One of her pupils from Adams, 8-year-old Kaitlyn Stern, recently earned two first-place rankings and a second-place ranking in a beginner’s feiseannas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“She’s got a lot of potential,” Ewing said.
Kaitlyn started Irish dancing last summer because, like many kids her age, her friends were doing it. Since then, she’s enjoyed learning how to prance, cut and jig about.
“It’s fun,” she said.
Boys are also participating. Ewing teaches four male students thus far and hopes to draw more attention as she begins full-time classes.
Ewing’s daughters even join in the fun.
“It’s a good experience,” Molly Haslan said.
Molly, 13, and her sister Roisin Haslan, 12, both began dancing as little girls and have done well on their own.
“It’s a good sport to learn and bond with others and have fun with friends,” Molly said.
Ewing will teach four introductory classes at the YMCA in Austin in June and will start more classes in September. She may stick with the Y, but she may need to find a bigger venue if there’s a large interest among area youth.
Upcoming class times
•Austin — 6:30-7:30 p.m. on July 6, 13, 20 and 27 at the Austin YMCA
•Rochester — 4:30-5:30 p.m. on July 8, 15, 22, and 29
•LeRoy and Adams classes will continue throughout the summer. LeRoy classes are on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and Adams classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings.
For more information, contact 507-481-8182 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://mullanschoolirishdance.weebly.com.