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Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog


I'm a mother, qualified TCRG and founder of the unique Irish dance fitness class, ReelRobics. I'm passionate about dance in all it's forms, and inspire others to use dance both for fun and fitness.

By reelrobics2, Sep 2 2016 02:24PM

•It’s good for your physical well being!

Irish dance is an energetic and effective form of exercise. The fast paced routines to traditional music will increase your heart rate. The movements themselves can improve strength and flexibility for your muscles and joints. One of the greatest benefits, is that because it’s fun, you sometimes get lost in the music and it doesn’t actually feel like hard work!

•It’s good for your mental well being!

Physical exercise releases endorphins which improve your mood, helping to beat stress and leave you feeling great. You can also just let loose and leave the cares of the day behind as you concentrate on the choreography. Your brain also gets a workout while you memorise the routines.

•It’s a great confidence booster!

Dancing improves your posture, helping you to feel and look more confident. Greater self esteem can also be found by coming out of your comfort zone, achieving new goals and performing in front of others.

•You can make new friends!

Irish dance class is a great way for you, or your child to meet new friends. Learning together, and from each other is a great ice breaker for making new people. Céilí dances are also a great team building exercise. Dance friends often become lifelong friends!

•You’re helping to spread Irish culture and tradition!

You may be following in the footsteps of your parents or grandparents if you're taking Irish dance lessons. It’s also a great honour to learn the traditional dance that has helped spread Irish culture throughout the world, thanks to Riverdance for putting it on a global stage. Whether Irish or not, or whether you’ve had any training or not, as soon as you hear the music, it’s hard not to want to tap your feet and move along!

There are many Irish dancing classes, competitive and non- compeitive, for both children and adults, in many countries worldwide, so why not find an Irish dance class near you today!

Keep (or start) dancing!

Christina xx

By reelrobics2, Jun 18 2016 05:40PM

When I meet people I haven’t seen in a while, one of their first questions they ask me, “Are you STILL DANCING?” Sometimes it's just inquisitive, but other times they are shocked to find out that, yes, I'm still dancing. I’m in my 30s, I’m a mother of two, and yes I’m still dancing!

Around 3/4s of our regular class goers are mothers. Mothers who spend a lot of time driving their kids to weekly acitivities, and have now made time for themselves. I’d had the idea to create an adult Irish dance fitness class for many years, but it wasn't until I became a parent, I knew that, for me, the timing was right . Dance had always been my favourite form of exercise, and it was how I’d planned on getting back in shape after having my son. When I took the very first ReelRobics class and saw the reactions of the dancers, I knew this was about much more than a great cardio workout.

The beauty of ReelRobics is that everyone is welcome. Adults of all abilities come together. You can come with your mum, your aunt, your sister, your friend or you can come alone and meet new friends. The beautiful Blogilates creator Cassey Ho reminded me on a recent Facebook post that you should “find something to make you smile while you sweat.” A room full of adult Irish dancers certainly brings with it it’s fair share of laughs and smiles.

Here’s why you should / could still dance too:

••• Because it makes us HEALTHIER! •••

A one hour ReelRobics class can burn around 500 calories. if you’re wanting to lose a few pounds, it can be part of your weight management routine. You can also feel the benefits of increased flexibility and agility.

“I dance because at 52 I can!! Love the different routines and the challenge to my brain and body.” - Joan, a mother of two, ReelRobics regular.

Irish dancing is fast paced and great aerobic exercise, with the added arms of ReelRobics choreography, you really are guaranteed a full body workout.

••• Because it makes us SMARTER! •••

Memorising the choreography and intricate footwork, from head to toe can help boost our memory! A dance class can be a workout for the brain as well as the body. As Stanford University’s Richard Powers tells us in ‘Use It or Lose It’,

“Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.”

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, that showed that dance was the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia. Dancing reduced the risk of dementia by an incredible 76% in the patients studied.

••• Because it makes us HAPPIER! •••

We all have those days when we’re feeling too tired to work out or even to leave the house. It’s more common through the winter, on the cold, dark nights, it’s tempting to want to stay cosy indoors. “Two friends took me along to this class on Monday night. I'm recovering from an illness and so I'm very unfit. Monday was a horrible night freezing and blowing a gale. So glad we made the effort!” - Miriam, now a ReelRobics regular!

I myself suffer from headaches, all caused from tension in my shoulders. Post ReelRobics, I feel such a sense of relief! Another one of our beautiful dancers, Claire tells us,

“I am a Mum of two teenagers with autism and life can be overwhelming at times, but when I dance, my mind has to clear and concentrate on the steps and nothing else.”

Whether you’re wanting to escape the stresses of the office, or a stay at home parent or carer looking a break, reeling away at a dance class will definitely release endorphins and give your mood a boost. “I regret that Irish dance workout”- said no-one ever!

And some come to dance class for something fun to do with friends or family, “I dance because it is a very enjoyable way of keeping fit and spending precious time with my lovely sister.” - Josephine, ReelRobics regular.

So are you STILL DANCING??

I'm still dancing, yes it’s my job, I’ve proudly created something original and unique, but there are so many other reasons why I’m still dancing. The most important one I can think of is that hopefully I’m showing my children that you can take control (as much as possible) over your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Keep dancing!

Christina xx

By reelrobics2, Apr 29 2016 02:58PM

Tonight I finished another sold out run of workshops at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh. I always feel emotional when a ReelRobics course finishes, and on the one hour drive home I began to figure out why.

One of the reasons is because I'm sharing a part of me with you all. I know this may sound dramatic, but to anyone teaching dance, self employed or running their own business you can perhaps relate. ReelRobics is something that I’ve created, and I’m extremely passionate about. I wholeheartedly believe in it, and a lot of others adore it just as much! I’ve grown along with it over the last four years, there have been fantastic times and there are of course times of self doubt. It’s certainly a rollercoaster of emotion, but very worthwhile.

When you come to ReelRobics you will dance the beautiful, traditional, steps of Irish dancing, along with modern arm movements. It can feel strange at first, especially for former competitive Irish dancers, who for years have been told to keep their arms straight by their sides. After a while though, everyone is moving along to the music and having fun. I’m so proud of every person who comes along. It is not easy to get up and dance as an adult. To be an Irish dancer, you have to be part artist, part athlete, and you all continue to inspire me!

“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.”- Indian proverb

When you watch Irish dancing, whether competition, performance or even for our own fitness class, you are not just viewing fast, fancy footwork. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Very often, years of failure, success, smiles and tears, and lots of time and money, go into it. If the eyes are indeed the mirror to the soul, you can see how the feet and body could portray what the heart is feeling.

During the quieter moments in ReelRobics class, in between shouting out the choreography through my headset, and gulping down water, I take a look around, and observe you all. I am so honoured to have you dance my steps.

In my competitive dancing, there were many times judges gave me last place because I didn’t dance for the ‘right’ teacher. There were lots of things I missed, or had to give up, for dancing. The lowest point in my career was when I was told that I was too heavy to be a dancer, “I wish I was as fat as the first time SOMEONE told me I was fat” springs to mind!

Anyway, it no longer really matters. Their voices and behaviour are distant memories as I lead a crowded hall of dancers, a mother of two and in my 30s. I can laugh about it now because it has made me all the more grateful.

So when you come to a ReelRobics class or course, I hope you get that from me. I hope you feel that way about your own dance teacher too. They are not simply showing you steps, and going through the motions, they are sharing part of their personal dance journey with you, one that never really ends!

Keep dancing!

Christina xx

By reelrobics2, Feb 12 2016 03:04PM

It was April 1994. The McGrath’s sat round the TV in the living room for the annual Eurovision competition. Despite most of my siblings being very young at the time, we sat transfixed. The interval act came on, we listened to the haunting sounds of Anuna, and watched the ever elegant Jean Butler’s Slip Jig. When it came to Michael Flatley’s grand entrance however, my mum almost spat out her tea, “That’s not Irish dancing” were her exact words. I think her, and the rest of the local dance mums spent the next few months debating whether it was ‘real Irish dance’ or not! Fast forward to the following year in the Point Depot, my mum and her dance friends were giving ‘Riverdance the Show’ the standing ovations to which it would so rightly become accustomed to. She returned home to Belfast an absolute devotee, “My hands are so sore from clapping”.

Just 3 weeks prior to Eurovision I had competed in my very first Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne, also in Dublin. Dancing was already a huge part of my life, I attended 3 or 4 weekly classes and a competed at Feisanna almost every weekend. I don’t believe even Producer Moya Doherty, Director John McColgan, and those directly involved with the Interval act could have predicted the enormity of ‘Riverdance’ , and the benefits it would bring not only to the dance, but our Irish identity and culture as a whole.

It was innovative and fresh and enthralling to watch, yet not everyone was sold right away. It was the break from traditional costume and the use of arms that people like my mum found hardest to get their head around!

Fintan O’Toole in his piece ‘Beyond Words, the Story of Riverdance’ articulates it perfectly,

“People are faced with an unhappy choice. They can try to preserve their traditional culture by putting up barriers against the outside world and trying to resist change. Or they can go with the flow… There is another possibility. It is to carry what you have taken from the past on an open- ended journey showing it off, throwing it open, making it into a point of contact rather than a point of honour. This is what Riverdance has done.”

I recently asked some of my dancers and followers if they believed Irish dance as we know it today to be a sport. The response was interesting and yet polarised. While some commented that is was our culture and an “art form” to be proud of, others argued that of course it was a sport, with dancers training as hard as gymnasts or figure skaters. There is an ever growing number of Irish dance fitness trainers, which shows that children, parents and teachers are willing to go the extra mile to gain a competitive edge. No-one, whether you are in favour of wigs and stage make up or not, can deny the finesse and execution of steps that this new modern style of competitive dance demonstrates. Sean-nós and Festival dancing have largely held on to tradition, each in their own way.

It all comes down to what you looking for in Irish dancing? What do you want to take from it? I appeal to you to really take a moment to appreciate the very diverse range of styles, shows, organisations, all of which have derived from the original Dance Masters in the 1700s. Let us appreciate all of it. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me, “Is that with or without the wigs??” We need to look much further than the cosmetics and celebrate the many different styles.

Getting back to my original point about my Mum and her first Riverdance opinion. A lot of people are very quick to dismiss what I do as “not really Irish dancing”. Most of the music we dance to is traditional music, and a huge portion of choreography is based around the 123s and sevens. Yes there are lots of arm movements, which is certainly something traditionalists are not happy about, but it gets the whole body moving and having fun. I am bringing people across political and religious divides to enjoy fun and fitness through Irish dance. I have Irish dance to thank for my marriage and my children, as I met my husband when we toured together in Riverdance. I suppose it could have been fate, coming full circle. My maternal grandparents had met at a ceili in West Belfast. My Grandfather was the Ceilidh caller, saw a beautiful blonde dancing one night. He decided not to go with his best friend to America and instead stayed at home married Ann and they had nine children. I wonder how many other families exist thanks to Irish dance, in all it's forms. So whether you're wanting to Irish dance for entertainment, art, culture, fitness, friendship or competition, with 6 billion people in the world, I’d say there’s room for us all!

Keep dancing!

Christina xx

By reelrobics2, Oct 23 2015 11:08AM

If you're like me, and dance is a huge part of your life, then chances are you're wanting your Halloween costume to reflect this. You may be attending a dance themed party or you may be looking for something to wear to class. Below you'll find some of my dance and Irish dance inspired outfits...

1. A Rockette

Dress like a member of the World famous dance company, Radio City Music Hall's finest! This is one of my all time favourites looks, I think i'll try it mysellf this Halloween, it's so timeless!

You'll just need a Christmassy or Santa inspired dress, in red or green. You could accessorize with some tinsel. Wear black tights and black character shoes if you have them. Hair should be tied back in a low bun with lots of hairspray for a sleek stage look. Don't forget the signature red lipstick and their showbiz smiles. Mac's Ruby Woo is a perfect colour, stars of the stage love it!

2. Black Swan

Steal Natalie Portman's iconic look for Darren Aronofsky's 2010 film 'Black Swan.' You'll need a black leotard, black tutu and white tights. If you don't have ballet pumps then Irish dance pumps would look great with this costume, or elegant slippers could work too. Hair tied back in a bun. The make up is the hardest and most dramatic part of this costume: pale white make up and signature black and silver eyes, and dark lipstick. Finish the look off with a tiara and you'll be stage ready.

3. Abby Lee Millar

Dress like the passionate star of 'Dance Moms' and founder of the Abby Lee Dance Company. For this you'll just need a baggy black t shirt, black cardigan or blazer and some black trousers. Big brown hair or a wig would work great. Heavy make up and lots of jewellery to complete the look.

4. Jean Butler

The original leading lady of Riverdance is the picture of elegance, a great style to pull off for your dance class. You'll need a pretty red wig or your own hair. A short flowy dress in navy or black. Some black tights and your Irish dance shoes. Finish with a small tiara in your hair. You could also add the long black cloak, she takes it off at the start of the Riverdance number. What an entrance that would be, drop the cloak and burst into your slip jig!!

5. Stavros Flatley

From the ever elegant to the downright outrageous, this is a fun one for the boys! Dress like the Father and Son duo, who's take on Michael Flatley's 'Lord of the Dance' had the 'Britain's Got Talent' audiences roaring with laughter. You'll need to go shirtless for this one, if you're feeling brave, and abs are definitely not necessary for thiscostume! Tight black trousers, blond wigs and black headbands to complete the look.

6.Gillian Norris as Morrighan the Temptress

Become one of Irish dance's biggest stage icons. You'll need a red halterneck dress, a glittery one would look amazing! A long black curly wig, black tights and black dance shoes. Some dramatic red lipstick to and heavy stage make up to finish. You'll soon be transformed into the Leading 'Bad Girl'.

7. Gene Kelly

One of the greatest dancers and entertainers of all time, Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood in 'Singin' in the Rain', is a great dance inspired costume idea. You'll need a grey suit, trilby hat and an umbrella as a prop. Wear your hair slick and gelled back and you're ready to dance and sing your heart out!

8. Your own Dance Teacher!

Take extra care when planning this one, it all depends on your teacher's sense of humour of course! Most dance teachers have trademark looks and sayings, and no-one can imitate better than your students.

If you have any other ideas you'd like to share then please let me know. If you've already pulled off some of these iconic looks then send us some pictures!

Happy Halloween and keep dancing!

Christina xx

Halloween 2014
Halloween 2014
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