For the first 18 years of my life, St. Patrick’s Day meant waking up at 4 a.m., putting on a blond curly wig and stage makeup before breakfast- and heading downtown Chicago to appear on various early morning news shows. That was followed by at least five more performances that same day in the area, a Shamrock shake or two for some much-needed “energy,” and an appearance at the Bulls halftime show. Sometimes we even made one last stop at an Irish pub to perform for the late night crowd.
To some, that day probably sounds like a nightmare. But to me, and other Irish dancers, it sounds like the best day of the year.
Although my “glory days” of performing on the Martha Stewart Show, the Conan O’Brien Show and Good Morning America are long over, I now partake in Madison’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities as an Irish dance instructor. I get to watch from side stage while my dancers show off how hard they’ve worked on perfecting steps and technique for this one special day.
At first, I missed the thrill of performing and all the butterflies that went along with it. But that quickly went away when the Madison Irish dance community welcomed me with wide open arms and showed me I can have just as much fun helping dancers experience the same excitement that I was able to for so long.
My dancers have been training since the beginning of December for this holiday, but they’re not the only blood and bones behind the operation. It’s the parents. They’re the ones who put on the wigs and makeup, drive the dancers everywhere that they need to be and they even plan some of the performances. There are some great contributors to the Madison Irish dance community, and I am beyond lucky to work alongside them.
Experience the luck of the Irish firsthand and check out some Irish dance performances this St. Patrick’s Day season by Madison’s own Irish dancers.
Thursday, March 16
Verona Public Library, 6:30 p.m. (Trinity Irish Dancers)
Gaelic Storm Appearance at Barrymore Theatre, 7:30 p.m. (Trinity Irish Dancers)
Friday, March 17
Oakbrook Village University Woods, 7 p.m. (Cashel Dennehy Irish Dancers)
Saturday, March 18
Kids in the Rotunda at the Overture Center for the arts, 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. performances (Trinity Irish Dancers)
Danae Luetkehans is a web editor at Madison Magazine.