'Before the Storm Comes'Apr 17, 2021
In March 2020, our 'Riverdance' tour got cut short in Radio City Music Hall, New York. Our whole tour up until that point was geared towards our shows there & personally I had been waiting 10 years to dance on the Radio City stage.
The few days that myself & the cast were lucky enough to enjoy in New York were highly intense & adrenaline filled. We didn't have a second between rehearsals, press gigs, exciting TV performances & of course the 3 special shows that we performed. It really was a magical few days. Even the walk to the theatre was a dream come true, never mind dancing on the spectacular stage & getting to experience the unique energy that fills Radio City Music Hall.
Life on the road as I knew it for over 10 years came to an abrupt halt a few days later, with future tours being either postponed or cancelled. The change of pace at home was definitely hard to get used to and still is. At first, I relaxed & tried to recover from the tour, but after a few weeks I grew restless & realised that not keeping up my passion would be to my detriment. It became apparent that I had to keep dancing & switched on in order to stay afloat.
On Friday 17th April, it was time to put my heavy shoes back on. I remembered a Treble Reel step that I'd made up back stage on tour, so I decided that I would practice it & share it on social media. An approaching storm was my inspiration for the name of the step & I suggested that dancers give the part with 'the clicks' a go.
The next morning, the talented Blaithin Stenson from Dublin had posted her interpretation of the full step & it wasn't long before more dancers followed suit. This prompted me to record two tutorials to help break the step down. Soon, over 200 dancers of every ability had shared their videos of 'Before the Storm Comes' & so the #laurensmythchallenge began.
Dancers needed a purpose every week, as did I! They needed a goal to work towards & a source to keep them motivated, so I decided to commit to 10 challenges. Each challenge brought a different energy which encouraged dancers to get to know themselves as both people and performers. I wanted to help dancers keep their love for Irish dance alive, to push outside their comfort zones & to understand how important it is to approach adversity with a positive attitude. I wanted dancers to believe in themselves, their abilities & to discover what they were truly made of!
To connect with so many & watch dancers grow in confidence was honestly life-changing. Lockdown taught me that when the well-being of other people becomes your motivation, then life becomes much easier, clearer and more enjoyable. The dancers who took part in each challenge will never understand just how much they lifted my spirits during a time of real change for me.
The ten weeks helped me find fulfilment in life outside of Riverdance... something that is not easy to do. I learned so much about myself as a teacher & choreographer & will be forever grateful for the journey that the challenges took me on. Without those few weeks, which then lead to me teaching on Zoom since July, I really don't know if the Lauren Smyth Academy would be what it is today.
I have a lot to be thankful for & I look forward to the future & the blessings that are to come.
'It's amazing where life can take you when you just DECIDE!'
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