Exciting post today! Through my contacts with Iconic Dancer, I got a chance to interview the one and only John Carey. If you’ve missed it, John Carey has consulted on a new hard shoe, the Iconic White and Iconic Black which I posted about last week. It’s definitely created a buzz in the Irish dance community! I’ll be interested in the response from dancers at Worlds.
Like I mentioned last time, John’s resume includes 8 World Championships and 8 All Ireland Championships. John was a dancer in the premier London showing of Riverdance and then went on to understudy Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance before assuming the lead role himself. After retiring from the show life, he opened up the Carey Academy in 2007 which itself has several World Champions. Not bad! On to the Interview!
1. What was your favorite competitive dance experience?
Winning my first World title aged 10 was probably the memory that sticks in my mind. I remember the results being called out and hand written on the overhead projector (showing my age now). I was sitting with all of my friends from my class and they were all cheering when my marks came out.
Hard work and practice!! Also listening to every bit of advice your teacher gives you and acting on it. They are trying to make you into the best dancer you can possibly be and sometimes when they are tough on you, you just have to remember they are doing it for your own good.
I feel like I am still learning as a teacher every day. When I started teaching, I obviously knew how to dance but it is a completely different skill to teach. Passing the TCRG exam doesn’t really prepare you for teaching your class! I find that you have to take each individual and treat them differently. Its like you have to be a psychologist as well as dancing teacher! Some dancers need constant encouragement and praise and with that they will push themselves harder. Others are the opposite and only put in good performance after being told they can do better and what they are doing is not good enough! Its a very fine line!
During a show 90% of the time you are being watched by people who know nothing about the technicalities of Irish dancing, so the main focus is on the performance. I think personality is a huge factor in being a good show dancer, yes you have to have the technical ability but charisma will carry you much further in the show world than perfect feet placement. Obviously when Irish dancers watch the shows they are looking for both! So you often find the leads in the big shows have equal measures of technical ability and stage presence/charisma. In competition it is much more about the technical aspect, precise footwork, perfect carriage and timing etc. However I do feel that the performance element is getting more and more in competitive dancing as well.
Choreographing is my favourite part of teaching. I get inspired by absolutely everything I see. Musicality is very important to me and when I am choreographing set dances I sing the tune over and over in my head to make sure each part reflects the highs and lows in the music.
I love seeing new moves and people experimenting with new rhythm patterns. I see a lot of things which have been inspired by tap, flamenco, and even the King of Pop Michael Jackson that people have taken and put an Irish twist on it. I think this is great that the art form can evolve like this and look forward to seeing what the next generation bring.
I wore a kilt for nearly all of my competitive career!! With a Velvet jacket piped around the edges. When I competed in my last World Championships in Glasgow 2002, after being in Lord of the Dance for 4 years. Nobody was wearing kilts any more so I wore trousers for my last competition. I still like the kilts however and my boys wear them for teams however I think it is good to have the option of wearing trousers as I think the kilts put a lot of boys off starting dancing when I was growing up.
I love the American Nationals! Mainly because I like traveling and seeing new places. Also that everything is usually under one roof in a really nice hotel makes it very convenient. As its July I can usually work on my tan in between watching competitions!
I enjoy going to the gym which i do 5 times a week, exercise really motivates me. I usually go first thing in the morning at around 7am before work and it really kickstarts my day! Other than that I love to travel and visit new places. I feel really lucky that dancing, teaching and adjudicating have helped me see the entire world. One place i have yet to go is South Africa, I see that dancing is really taking off there so hopefully will get to visit there soon!
Thanks, John! That’s great advice and insight! What do you think? Any pieces of advice from John that you really relate to?
Stay Fashionable, Feisers!