Thursday, October 22, 2015

Adults vs. & Overs: an op-ed on the various pros and cons

This was the first week this term that I missed class. I will let you guys be my judges - I had to skip cause the house we are in the process of buying was being inspected and we kind of needed to be there for it. Valid excuse?

So, to give you an equal break from my class updates, of which I have none, and I am sure you were sick of them anyway, I decided to write about something else this week. After a conversation with one of my besties (who also happens to dance), I was inspired to do this little opinion piece of the various pros and cons of both Adults and &Overs.

For the sake of clarity, I am referring both to the obvious (competitions) but also to classes. I've danced both with the littles and other adults, and while by no means consider myself expert on the subject, I at least have a little knowledge I can share with you, rather then waxing philosophic for another week about my struggling through class. PLEASE, keep in mind these are all just from my personal experience and do not represent all, or even MOST dance classes. All schools and classes are unique

Without further ado:

  • Conversation/personal interactions during class/competitions
    • "Adults" Pro: 
      • peer group
      • easier to talk to 
      • more shared interests and life experience
      •  ability to swear without feeling bad
    • "Adults" con; 
      • sometimes you end up shooting the shit more and dancing less
    • "&Overs" Pro: 
      • get to form relationships with youngers, 
      • maybe provide a good influence
      • show them it's never to late to go after dreams
    • "&Overs" con: 
      • You have to listen to conversations about Disney Chanel, homework and such statements as "my life is OVER (insert tweeny drama here)" and NOT laugh at how trivial it sounds compared to grown up problems
      • kids might look at you like you are weird
      • "Aren't you too old for this class" (see some of my previous experiences)
  • Practice/Drill time/Class time
    • "Adults" Pro: 
      • People mainly learning at the same pace as you, 
      • people able to focus as long as you, 
      • needing the same amount of water breaks as you
      • people who understand the aches and pains of being an older dancer
      • classes tend to be little less structured, a lot more independent practice and personal input into what you want to work on (this also depends on class size) 
    • "Adults" con; 
      • If one person needs to sit down for a minute it's tempting for everyone to sit down for a minute (see above, both about being able to converse, and about spending too much time talking lol!)
    • "&Overs" Pro: 
      • CHALLENGE! 
      • Keep up with the kids half your age
      • high energy class 
      • more strident drilling
      •  more repetition of steps (kids with short attention spans need to have the 'learning' part of their steps repeated), 
      • usually very structured classes
    • "&Overs" con: 
      • more repetition of steps (kids with short attention spans need to have the 'learning' part of their steps repeated) - it's both a blessing and a curse. 
      • Kids can sometimes just do more then you can, 
      • everyone looks at you weird when your trick ankle flares up and you are limping across the room
  • Feiseanna
    • "Adults" Pro: 
      • camaraderie 
      • sense of team work 
      • get to know everyone in your competition really well 
      • less stress/pressure 
      • competing against people with similar ages and strength/weakness brackets 
      • focus more on competing against your previous best, rather then against the other dancers
      • don't have to worry about the blingy outfits and wigs 
    • "Adults" con: 
      • Smaller competition sizes (depending on region/feis/phase of the moon - some regions have more in adults then in the highest age &overs), 
      • Restrictions; must wear tights, can't dance non-trad speeds, can't wear blingy stuff if you want to
      • adult catagories at competitions are usually very small, if they exist at all  
      • will have to drop down to &overs if you want to go further then prizewinner
    • "&Over" pros:
      • Bigger competitions (usually)
      • varied competition
      • If you can beat someone half your age, you know you've earned it
      • Can wear the fun dresses - or not. Same for tights (TC usually does have opinions that need to be taken into a consideration no matter where you go though) *Bonus; If you wear a wig, guarantee it will take between 4-10 years off of you!*
      • Can keep rising through levels without having to change catagories and re-acclimate yourself to a new competition "set"
    • "&Overs Cons:" 
      • You are literally competing against 15-20 people who are half your age - ARE YOU CRAZY?
      • Younger, sprier bodies mean high jumps, bouncer steps and better stamina with less effort
      • More competitors means harder competition
      • less people to "hang out" with - you aren't part of the "adults" club to hang out with them between dances, but you are to old to hang out with the teens you dance against.

So .. . there it is. Again, these are just my observations, and there are a lot of variables that need to be taken into consideration. Some teachers are adamant about not wanting the adults to dance with the kids, some prefer it. Some regions have a SUPER active Adults category, while other have none. Some kids classes are super laid back, some adults classes are super competitive. There are no right or wrong answers here. If you are an adult considering a class, take EVERYTHING into consideration and decide what feels right for you. Like I said, I've done both. I've loved doing both. What's right for me now is slogging alongside the kiddos - doesn't mean that down the road kicking butt with fellow adults isn't in the cards for me.

There is only ONE thing for certain - if you are considering taking a class or competing as an Adult, not only CAN YOU . . .but you have OPTIONS. So do it!!!


  1. Love this post as this is something I think about all the time. I started out as an adult and didn't meet many fellow adults until I was ready to make the switch. While I love my adult category friends, I know I made the right choice. I want to have the opportunities to go to Oireachtas, Worlds and more. That just wasn't an option where I was before. Having a really supportive teacher also helped make the transition to & overs really easy. I'm also lucky that I there are two other 18 & over people in my class. I love the 4th-7th graders in my class too, but it's nice to have some buddies who can relate to adult problems.

    Good luck on your house! I close on mine on Wednesday! I can't wait to have room to practice inside!

  2. I googled adult Irish dancers (do NOT forget the word "Irish" in there when doing so!) and landed on your blog. Nice list! It's so great to have options as an adult, and it's wonderful that you have a school supportive of your goals!

    I'm an adult in the Western US Region of CLRG. Our studio is a satellite of the main (large) school, and we started out quite small so I knew quite a few of the younger dancers as our adult classes were mixed in with prizewinner/champ classes of all ages. The adult socializing is a major bonus of being in an adult class, but I do find it frustrating when the socialization time starts to outnumber the learning time! We've now grown and have a number of new classes, so I take a mix of the regular adult-only class and a champ prep and a drills class that is mixed in with the kids. Sometimes I'm the only adult, sometimes there are 5 of us, just depends on the week. I was a bit nervous around the kids at first but now I'm over it. They're very friendly and don't question the adult presence at all. They even tell me good job after class if the teacher complements me.

    I'm fortunate to have a school very supportive of adult dancers and whatever our goals, from weekly fun exercise to performances to competing at Worlds.

    A couple things to add to your list based on my Western Region experience:

    -They've allowed adults to dance non-traditional speeds for quite a while now. I've competed slow treble jig in adult prizewinner for about 3 feisanna now and will be competing my slow hornpipe for the first time this weekend in novice. Only beginner cannot do slow speeds, same as &overs. Our entire adult class has been learning the slow dancers...with varied degrees of success as they're quite intricate!
    -We wear wigs and bling, if not in my region at least in my local area. A lot more wear natural hair than in &overs, and we're not *as* blingy or wearing as young of styles in general, but some of us still like our bling. I just bought my first solo used from an &overs teen. No bling, but very pretty and I added a blinged number clip and made a fascinator to match and added a crystal to that. I plan to add some crystals to the dress as a reward to myself for dropping down, when I get there. Tights are now required in a new ruling this year, but I haven't seen it enforced yet and a couple competitors in the adult category are still wearing poodle socks.
    -Definitely agree about the friendly competition and the low numbers. Sometimes it is fine and I've competed with up to 12, but sometimes I've danced alone. I now only attend select feisanna where I know there is a chance of having at least one of my dances have 5 or more, which is a bummer because I'd love to go to all of them!
    -I'm planning to drop down when my teacher suggests it because I want to keep advancing the levels. Fortunately, at my school, I'll be able to stay in the adult class until at least &over prizewinner, if not until champs. Champs is the only level I wouldn't have crossover with my adult friends.

    Overall, I'm happy that I've started in Adult as I wasn't sure I would ever want to compete and just went "for fun" to my first feis. But after the first medals I earned? I'm hooked! It has helped the intimidation factor to be in a group of older dancers who are less cutthroat, save that one girl in adult prizewinner who isn't above trying to get you disqualified. :)

    Hope classes are going well and the house situation! Lovely blog!