Hands were clapping when the New York School of Irish Step Dance performed for the Center for Adults Living Well (CALW) on Sunday, March 10. In Riverdance-style dresses, six of the troop’s dancers explored both soft- and hard-shoe dances that had them leaping and balancing on their toes. Crowd favorites included toe-tapping reels and an a cappella piece that sounded like a percussive conversation between the dancers.
Between sets, the New York School of Irish Step Dance troop introduced themselves. “I’m very Irish,” one dancer with flaming red hair explained.
“How Irish?” one patron asked.
“Very,” the dancer replied smiling.
The exchange prompted a discussion about Washington Heights and Inwood—how the area was once home to numerous Irish bars and businesses.
Another audience member asked about the health of the the dancers’ knees, a special concern for the CALW crowd who are ages 60 and better. Pounding the floor and landing on one foot had to have consequences, particularly for anyone over 20.
Their leader, Soraya Hanzus, stated that the dancers take breaks. Instead of dancing continuously for a whole set, they may limit themselves to 20 minutes or rotate among other members of the troop. “There is definitely more physical maintenance as we get older,” she said.
In addition to being a seasoned Irish step dancer and choreographer, Hanzus has taken courses in Dance Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center. The New York School of Irish Step Dance has performed for Mayor Bill de Blasio and on NBC, ABC, CBS, and Viceland.
Stay tuned for CALW’s next Sunday program with the Manhattan School of Music on March 25 at 1:15 pm in the auditorium.
By Ann Votaw, Recreational Therapist & Coordinator