'It's very surreal': Return of dance classes warmly welcomed in Cork

'It's very surreal': Return of dance classes warmly welcomed in Cork

Maedhbh Hayes from the Joan Denise Moriarty school of Dance.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE return of indoor dance classes has been warmly welcomed in Cork, with some schools already dealing with “pent-up” demand and an increase in interest.

With the easing of restrictions on indoor classes from today, dance classes and other activities in Cork officially returned and for some, it is the first time in 12 months.

For Montfort College of Performing Arts, Wednesday will mark the first time the school has opened in one year.

Since March 2020, the school has only reopened for a total of three weeks last September.

“I shut on a Tuesday last year, so I’m opening on a Wednesday,” said Trevor Ryan, director of Montfort College of Performing Arts.

Mr Ryan noted the excitement among both staff and pupils ahead of the return.

“There’s great excitement amongst certainly staff and pupils," he said.

"We’ve got a lot of emails, a lot of calls from parents saying that their sons and daughters are literally counting down the hours.

“It’s very surreal. We’re obviously seriously elated ourselves. We’ve put an awful lot of work into getting back in terms of making sure that we still follow the rules and the guidelines to make it as safe as possible for the students.” 

Mr Ryan noted a clear “pent-up demand” with the majority of classes sold out and over 100 people currently on waiting lists.

“My numbers have never been as high as they are. People are just dying to get back.” 

Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance continued classes outdoors but as the Winter seasons approach, they are glad to be able to return inside.

“It’s a great relief. You’re under pressure all the time outdoors,” said owner Sharon Manning.

While the weather could be “hit and miss”, the students were glad to be able to continue classes.

However, Ms Manning noted that a lot of kids did struggle throughout the pandemic. To help, they would send out ‘sunshine boxes’ to students.

“It would be full of everything yellow from something edible to colouring to flowers and teddy bears. That’s what we had to do because people were having an awful time.” 

While Lucy French School of Dance in Kinsale has been back for individual training, they are glad to be “getting back to normal” this week.

“I think we should have been back earlier but at the end of the day, we’re back now and that’s all that matters,” said Ms French.

As a member of the Irish Ballet Teachers Association which was formed during the pandemic, Ms French said the goal going forward is to have dance recognised as education.

“The same way that music is recognised as education, we’re pushing for dance to be recognised," she said.

"We have students in all our schools around the country that would go on to make this their career.

“I think the pandemic and us being shut down for so long really highlighted the fact that this is really not on the government’s agenda so we really need to get it understood.”

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