#SupportLocal: Teacher Paul is proud of his Dance Academy school

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By Maurice Garvey

DANCE and the performing arts have really been messed about during Covid-19 with restrictions such as social distancing presenting a multitude of new challenges.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect is the stipulation of just five students to one teacher.

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Paul Ryder with members of Proud Dance Academy at a performace before restrictions

Tallaght native Paul Ryder, dance teacher at Belgard based Proud Dance Academy, concedes the adaption was “seriously tough” but “under control” during the early stages of the pandemic until the government dropped the 5-1 “bombshell”.

“We put every single measure in place that we needed to. Dance schools and performing arts classes had more measures than some shopping centres to keep our children safe,” said Paul.

“For four weeks we operated a seriously good system with our children and parents to keep everyone safe and then our government dropped the bombshell that we could only have five per class with one teacher.

This has made things seriously difficult but we will trojan on and make it work for the confidence and well being of our students.”

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The dance school performing

Lockdown affected people’s mental health, and for highly active folk like Paul and his students, he was eager to ease kids back into the groove in a safe environment.

“On top of keeping your students minds active to want to learn and regain their confidence within classes after being stuck inside for so long,” he said.

“Their social skills are tarnished and we’ve seen that massively upon their return and we just want to get them back to a normal routine so we can see them flourish in what they love.”

Following 12 years of dance teaching experience, Ryder launched Proud Dance Academy in March 2018. “I just felt like that it was the right time to bring my own version of performing arts and learning to the industry.

I have worked with some incredible tutors and creative beings in my time and I’ve also had some amazing experiences and opportunity in my career, I wanted to bring that to my own army of superstars and give them even a little of what I’ve been fortunate to learn.”

The academy is a SME, with one full time teacher, Jodie, an “amazing talented performer”, who teaches Junior Division classes, and two “fantastic teaching assistants” Emma and Laura, and Fiona in admin, who Paul admits he would be lost without her when it comes to the running of the school.

Along with dance performance classes, the school thrives on bringing other aspects of the performing arts world to the children as workshops.

“I want them to have a taste of all sides of the entertainment industry so that as they grow as performers, they can branch to whatever aspect of the industry suits them,” said Paul.

Paul acknowledges the responsibility the school has for its students.

“Children take in everything you say and they need you to be at your best with every new venture and every new task.

Once one show, performance is finished, they are waiting patiently to hear your ideas on what’s next. So you’re constantly trying to better yourself.

There is an old phrase in this industry, you’re only as good as your last gig and I think my students keep me on my toes to remember that.”

Paul is looking forward to seeing a version of reality settle back into classes.

“We have drama and singing coming to Proud Dance Academy in the near future and I’m excited to watch the students excel in all these avenues and make them proper superstars if that’s the road they want to go down.”

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