My Outlook: Jude Flurry
Jude Flurry is only eleven years old, but he’s already an accomplished Irish Dancer. Having danced since he was six years old, he placed 9th in this year’s world championships. We spoke to both him and Shane Granger with Armstrong Auditorium, to get some insights into this sport.
Shane, what is some of the history of Irish Dance?
Irish dance has roots going as far back as the 6th century BC, when the high king of Ireland, Ollam Fodla, established the Feis o Tara, a celebration involving sports, poetry reading, music and dance. It’s become very popular over here, primarily, I think, due to the popularity of Riverdance.
Can you explain how the competition is structured?
There are two types of dances: figure and solo dances, the set dance being the featured dance of the soloist. Jude has never competed in figures, which is the group dance competition. Solo competitions consist of a hard shoe dance, during which Jude shares the stage with two other hard shoe soloists, then the soft shoe, where he shares the stage with one other performer. After that, if he recalls [makes it to the next round], and about half of the dancers do, then he has the stage to himself for the set dance.
How much would you say Jude rehearsed before going to the world championships?
In the two months or so before a major competition, I would estimate that Jude and his sister practiced four or five days a week, 1 to 2 hours per session—maybe a little more if you add strength and conditioning workouts.
Jude, how did you get into Irish dancing? Is it a family tradition?
It’s not a family tradition, but my sister does it, most of my cousins do it and all of my close friends do it too. Having my friends and family doing it makes it more fun in class because there are other people who I’m close to doing it. I’m definitely glad I got involved in it.
What kind of competitions do you prefer? Big ones or small?
I like the small competitions a lot. With the big competitions, there is a lot of pressure. Sometimes the pressure is hard to take. It’s worth it though, especially if you do well.
How did it feel to be on stage in front of so many people?
I was calm, but I was nervous. I was excited because there were people from all over the world that I’ve never competed against before. It’s a lot different when you’re actually there than when you see it on screen. It’s a lot of pressure when you’re dancing because there are five judges, and they’re all staring at you. If you mess up, they can’t really miss it.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about Irish dancing? Is it something you would recommend for other people?
I like Irish dancing because it’s a competitive sport, it’s fun, and you can see how hard work pays off. I don’t like that there are so many injuries. I think it’s helped me to become a harder worker and to use my time more wisely. It’s so focused on perfection, it has helped me to become a better perfectionist. It’s a good thing for people to do as long as they are willing to put in the work. I would definitely recommend it for others.
To learn more about Irish Dance and Armstrong Auditorium, please visit www.armstrongauditorium.org