Earlier this year, Richmond Barracks welcomed our very own Dancer in Residence – Aoife McAtamney!
Aoife has been hosting free online movement workshops, and you can book your place here. In the Autumn, and as soon as government guidelines allow, we hope to resume in-person movement and dance workshops.
Below, Aoife tells us a little bit about herself, how she became a dancer, and shares her top tips for bringing more movement into your daily life.
Could you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I’m an actor, singer, and contemporary dance artist based in Dublin with over ten years of experience and I hope to have many many more! In 2019 I went to a conference in dance and ageing. I became really fascinated by the ways in which dance could bring an understanding of age that is uplifting, empowering and fun! I started teaching in Richmond Barracks in January 2020, throughout the pandemic online and I’m really looking forward to the time we can meet in person … soon!
What led you to decide to become a dancer?
I’ve always been dancing, ever since I was a child. Dancing to me has become a way of life. More than a movement, it’s an understanding of how to move through my days. It’s my go to place when I want to feel good and connect to my body and my spirit. I went to a school in Celbridge called Celbridge School of Ballet. Directed by Grainne McArdle, I started dancing ballet and jazz at an early age. I worked really hard with Grainne by my side guiding me through technique and artistry. I then went to the UK and Germany for further professional training, and after that I danced with really amazing choreographers and dance companies, even doing my own choreography here in Ireland.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love music and so the relationship between music and movement gives me joy everyday.
I really love the moment when I teach when I can see that the participants are getting lost in the movement and music, we are really in the moment together and our worries and cares are gone, we’re just there dancing away!
This happens in most classes and it is really a pleasure to experience. This is the gift of dancing.
If someone would like to move or dance more, but wasn’t sure where to start, what advice would you give them?
I would start by thinking about what dancing actually means to you – I always say dancing is a human right, its available to everyone, everywhere at any moment. It’s not owned or copyrighted, and being in motion is the most natural state for the body to be in. So, where I would start would be to put on your favourite song and see, experience, and feel how you move. Try that everyday. Then, if there is a dance you are specifically interested in like ballet, hip hop, or contemporary dance, there are many schools throughout the country that you can find online. Just send them on an email or call to find out details. One can start dancing at any age – its a myth that one is too old!
What are you looking forward to?
Im really looking forward to coming back to Richmond Barracks to be dancing in person together! We will be having online Monday movement sessions for 55+ starting again in July through to the winter. I love these weekly dance gatherings!
What can people expect when they join one of your movement or dance classes?
Each movement session offers something different. The root of what I do is to create a space where everyone feels comfortable to explore dancing and what that means to them.
I use lots of pop music in my classes. That means there is lots of rhythm, always a flow and momentum to the sessions so by the end, there is the feeling of working our cardiovascular system. Everyone has their own unique way of expressing dance, and so all of the dances we will do in class are simple enough that each dancer can put their own personality in them. So, as the participants grow in their knowledge of technique they also grow in confidence to connect with their sense of movement.
What are your top tips for bringing more movement into our day to day life?
My biggest tips would be to dance to your favourite song everyday! This can be three minutes to five minutes but it can make such a difference in your day! Also, connect with the natural world around you – watch a cloud, or leaves on a tree, notice how the natural world resembles our physical world, understanding that movement is constant, cyclical, natural!
Huge thanks to Aoife for chatting with us. You can find out more about Aoife’s online classes and book your place here.
Or, if you want to try some dancing at home first, have a listen to Aoife’s playlist to get you in the mood for moving!
Photo: Aoife teaching a dance class in Richmond Barracks in 2020. Credit: Mark Stedman.