Thursday, 27 September 2012

The end of an era :(

This is the last Nationals at which Scoil Rince Aisling will have dancers.

Geraldine French started the school nearly 20 years ago.  During that time, she has produced two solo World Champions, over 50 solo National Champions and many team champions.  All this from a small scout hall in Wahroongah, Sydney; a venue without heating or cooling, without mirrors, without working toilet facilities for much of its life, but with a strong school spirit and sense of purpose.

She started the Winter Solstice Feis that, for the first time for a "local" school feis, brought to Australia International adjudicators and the famous marks countdown.  The Winter Solstice was both loved and feared; there were recalls that meant not all dancers received a trophy.  This polarised the ID community but also lifted the standard of dancing for all participants - dancers really felt the achievement of recall or placing in this competition.

On a personal note, my daughters Sarah, who started in 1996 and "retired" in 2000, and Julia who started in 1998 and is still going (!) have experienced both the joys and disappointments, the highs and lows, and the strong friendships that come from being an Aisling dancer.

Without any doubt, Geraldine has been the strongest external formative influence on our daughter's lives and they are both the richer for that influence.  How Geraldine continued to put-up with Julia, and probably me, over the years is anyone's guess.  That she and Julia haven't come to blows over the years is also amazing - they are both strong personalities!

Last night we had our final team dinner at a Nationals.  There were laughs and tears, mixed emotions from all concerned, and a number of old photos from the late 90s appeared on phones and were shown around the table.  It was nostalgic but happy at the same time.

The Australian Irish Dancing community is losing a wonderful teacher - someone who could inspire, lead and terrify all at the same time.  There will be no other like her.