Amanda teaches Irish Gaelic to her dance students

(Amanda Atkinson is a Bitesize Irish Gaelic customer, taking our online Irish Gaelic lessons. She’s an Irish dancer and dance teacher in Michigan, and supplies Irish dance products. She not only teaches dance steps to her students, but also teaches them some Irish language! Here’s Amanda’s story, with lots of videos!)

Amanda: I teach at a dance school called American Dance Academy that has teachers that teach ballet, point, tap, hip hop, Hawaiian, Polynesian, lyrical, Irish, and Jazz. Each teacher specializes in their own dance.

(Dia dhuit, Eoin. Is mise Amanda = Hello Eoin. I am Amanda.)

I started Irish dancing in 2006 as an adult beginner. My oldest daughter was taking it and the teacher said I could join as well in the same class. I thought it was so exciting to see my daughter dance while the teacher played the penny whistle, and it opened my eyes that this is a huge opportunity to teach my children about their own heritage.

(Dia dhuit, Megan, fáilte ar ais. = Hello Megan, welcome back.
Dia dhuit, Samantha, go raibh maith agat. Conas atá tú? = Hello, Samantha, thank you. How are you?
Tá mé go maith, agus tusa? = I am well, and you?
Tá mé go maith. = I am well.)

My youngest daughter wasn’t quite 1 yet and it was also an opportunity to get back into shape after pregnancy. I loved dancing to live music, it’s so different from popping in a CD! I stayed with that school until October of 2010 when my daughter had to stop dancing due to Osgood Schlatters disease. Her knees were so swollen and painful and she could no longer dance.

(Uisce, Elyssa? = Water, Elyssa?
Go raibh maith agat. Sláinte! = Thank you. Cheers!)

(Slán abhaile. = Safe journey home.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig = St. Patrick’s Day
Nollaig shona duit. = Merry Christmas.
Oíche Shamhna = Hallowe’en)

I started teaching Irish dance at American Dance Academy in September 2008. They had never offered Irish dance at their studio, and since this was just a basic introduction (non-competitive) to Irish dance, I didn’t need to be certified to teach it. I was taught a few things in Gaelic at my previous dance school and how to count to 15. I shared what I was taught and found it just wasn’t enough for me.

Then I came across a website called Irish-sayings.com [Eoin’s note: that was the precursor to what is Bitesize Irish Gaelic today.]. I picked up a bunch of things from that site, and taught what I could to my students, that’s when I came across Bitesize Irish Gaelic and to you. I feel if I’m going to teach Irish dance, it’s got to be more than just steps, I want to teach the culture.

(Dia dhuit, Megan, is mise Adele.
Dia dhuit, Adele, is mise Megan.
Let’s count and do our stretches.
A haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathair, a cúig, a sé, a seacht, a hocht, a naoi, a deich, a haon déag, a dó dhéag a trí déag a ceathair déag, a cúig déag, a sé déag, a seacht déag, a hocht déag, a naoi déag, a fiche.)

Dia dhuit, is mise Adele.
Dia dhuit, is mise Maddie.
Gráim thú = I love you.
álainn = beautiful
sásta = happy
Is ea = Yes
Ní hea = No
máthair = mother
athair = father
uisce = water)

I also picked up some handy sayings I don’t teach my students, but rather use at home with my own kids like “dún do bhéal” (shut your gob!).

Music for Irish dance

I have a lot of different CDs I use for dance. Some of my favorites are Brian Bonner (local musician), Dean Crouch, Brian Glynn, Craig Duncan, Ellery Klein, Mike and Theresa Shaffer, Pat King, Stephen Walker, Tony Nother to name a few. I’ll also use music from Riverdance or Lord of the Dance. I’ll also use cd’s with various different artists.

I’m currently a student at Ealaín Céime Irish Dance School. I’m in their advanced adult class and in their adult performance troupe. I only just started there in March 2011, but already I love it and will be performing in July.

(Slán Eoin! Irish dancers cics sa tóin. – Bye Eoin! Irish dancers kick butt.)

Amanda now provides Irish and Scottish dance products in Michigan. We support Amanda, and thank her for her support to us! Here are her contact details:

Amanda McPherson Atkinson
Atkinson Irish Products
439 Kent Way
White Lake, MI 48383
248-881-4331
Atkinsonirishproducts@comcast.net

Thanks to Amanda and her students Samantha, Adele, Megan, Elyssa and Madeline for showing how they’ve been learning the Irish language so well! Please leave any replies, questions and compliments for Amanda and her students below.

Amanda sent on more Irish dance videos with spoken Irish.

Want to learn Irish Gaelic online, just like Amanda has been doing? Consider joining us to take our online lessons.

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17 thoughts on “Amanda teaches Irish Gaelic to her dance students”

  1. Lovely to find this site. I’m writing this in Corca Dhuibhne, at the extreme western end of the Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry. It’s a Gaeltacht area, where Irish is still the first language. Wish some of the kids in those videos could have been here in our house at the weekend. There’s a local tradition, called bothantiocht, in which people gather in someone’s house to play music, chat, and dance. The house we live in has been used for bothantiocht for the last hundred years. At the weekend we had polkas – which are traditional in west Kerry set-dancing – as well as the anniversary waltz. Not exactly traditional, that one, but we did have a wedding anniversary to celebrate. The instruments were concertina and accordian. Ach bhi neart amhranaiochata ann chomh maith. (so how do I type fadas in this box?!?)

    1. Sounds great! Do you hear much Irish being spoken around the place? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if there’s much being spoken, but it’s true that you need to get into the community. We’ve stayed a few times with Caitlín in Feirm Chinn Sléibhe/Slea Head Farm, which can’t be too far from where you’re living? Perhaps we can drop in the next time we make the trip down from Limerick.

  2. I love that you teach the girls Irish language while you teach dance. My daughters are in Irish dance and are learning the language along with me. Of course they are much better at it… Ah, to be young and able to pick up languages easily!

    1. i think it is great that u are teaching the language while teaching them to do the dance as i am irish i feel that it is good to spread the language aroud anyway wont keep u any longer slain agus banacht

  3. This is adorable! Anois, can someone tell me if my accent is right? I’m stuck on ‘go mah’ rather than ‘go my’. I know I speak southern, rather than northern or Baile Átha Cliath. Ah no matter, as long as we carry Irish!

    1. Well, as always, there’s no “the right answer” but “some right answers”!

      I say “maith” more like “mah”, being from more of the south of Ireland. The further north you go, it sounds much more like a long “my”.

  4. We’re looking forward to seeing these very folks preform and compete at the Saline Celtic Festival (in Michigan USA) on July 9, 2011. If you’re anywhere near, please join us.
    Go raibh maith agat. Sláinte!

  5. Marilyn Techen

    Is breá liomsa é, fosta!
    I think it’s great, Eoin, that you put this up for all of us to enjoy.
    It adds so much to the Bitesize Irish Gaelic learning experience– actually seeing
    what others are doing, the creativity, the enthusiasm… it was fun to watch, inspiring,
    encouraging… hope more people can send in things like this.
    I think it’s great, Amanda, that you teach the Irish dance, and that you
    teach the girls a bit of the Irish, too. They all did an awesome job on the videos!
    Hopefully you’ll send in updates once in a while.
    And I think it’s great, “cailíní”, that you’re learning both Irish dancing and the Irish
    language! Keep up the good work, and best of luck with the Celtic Festival competition!
    Slán anois, agus Go n-éirí an t-ádh libh!
    Marilyn from Texas

  6. Dear Eoin,
    I’m Samantha and I am one of Miss Amanda’s students. Thank you for letting us be on your website, it is very nice to meet you.I Enjoy learning Irish dancing and Gaelic, I am Irish and I like learning about my heritage.I would like to tell you who I am in the videos, I am in the Irish dancing video, I am the tallest, and I have long wavy brown hair. Miss Amanda has told us that you live in Ireland. I live in the U.S. so I think this is very cool to talk to you. If you would like to teach people more Irish dancing and Gaelic, I go on http://WWW.EDU.glogster.com but EDU stands for school glogs and you don’t go to school because you are an adult. So you can go to http://WWW.glogster.com you can make your own account for free. I made my own Ireland glog on EDU glogster. By the way I love your website, it is great.
    ~Samantha~

  7. Amanda Atkinson

    Samantha, that is so sweet of you to post this! You a wonderful dancer and student and I can’t wait to have you in my class again in the Fall!!

    Miss Amanda

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