Bridgid Driscoll, TCRG, started her Irish dance journey when she was 5 years old and now, is the proud owner of the accomplished Driscoll School of Irish Dance in Kansas City. Bridgid attributes her success to patience, staying true to herself and the great teachers that helped shape who she is today. We talked with Bridgid about her inspiration for starting a dance school and advice for anyone interested in doing the same.
How did you know you were done competing? Was it an easy transition?
“I thought I was done dancing when I started college. I knew at that time that I was not going to be in a show or dance professionally and thought that pursuing a traditional degree and career track was the right choice. But I missed Irish dance and eventually returned to classes and competition. I again thought I was done when I got married and started a full time job after college and still came out of retirement once more. In my mind, there were external pressures to ‘grow up’ and move on from dancing.”
How and why did you begin your own dance school?
“I started my own school with just a few students. We met in the Kansas City Irish Center, which at the time was in the basement of Union Station. It was carpeted and we had to move heavy furniture before and after every class. I was encouraged by so many people to start my own school - my parents and husband, the Kansas City Irish community and even my previous teachers. I decided it was the right time when my husband took a new job that would have him traveling out of the country for a long time. I thought it would be a good thing to keep me busy - that certainly has held true.
I like that I started small. It gave me time to figure out who I was as a teacher without any presumptions based on the history of an established school or expectations of experienced dancers. It helped me to develop my own style and create a studio environment that I am very proud of.”
What would you recommend to others looking to pursue their TCRG?
“Take your time and go for it. I know those sound a little contradictory but what I mean is that the exam will always be there. There is no cut off for when you have to take it by and your competitive experience and more time in the studio with your teachers will never hurt you when you are ready to sit for the exam. But when you are ready, go for it with enthusiasm. Ask for help (even if you don't think you need it) and take advantage of all the resources available (study guides, other teachers, workshops, etc). And know that so many people have done this before you - you can, too.”
What would you recommend to those looking to open their own dance school?
“If you thinking about starting your own school, be patient. I find the same things to be true as a teacher that were true as a dancer. Healthy competition is good and helps you challenge yourself and grow but stressing over things you cannot control does not help you, or your dancers. Many of the dancers I looked up to in competition are now teachers, too. They give me so many role models and goals to aspire to but I know at the end of the day, I am accountable to myself and my students. Everyone (student or teacher) has their own journey. It is important to hold true to yourself.”
For more information on the Bridgid and the Driscoll School of Irish Dance: