Monday, August 26, 2013

Know Your Competition

Amanda Probert

I met Amanda on my way home from the 2012 Oireachtas in Seattle. She was wearing a top placing sash and I congratulated her. Then we started talking on the shuttle to the airport and become friends on various social media sites.  

Full Name: Amanda Probert
Age group: u17
Region: Western US Region
Dance School: Claddagh California                             
Dressmaker: Siopa Rince

How long have you been dancing?
Almost 9 years!

Who makes your hard shoes/soft shoes?
I have always worn Rutherford hard shoes! For my whole dance career I wore Gazelles by Antonio Pacelli, but I recently switched to Corrs soft shoes, but I still wear Gazelles for teams!

How did you get started in Irish Dance?
At the public library where I used to live, the library had a birthday celebration for itself. When I went to go leave the library, I heard music I had never heard before, and it turned out to be Irish dance. I was in awe when I watched it.So I decided to take classes.

What is your favorite dance and why?
This question is actually really tough! Ha-ha!  But I guess my favorite dance would have to be Planxty Davis! I really love the music to it! It's very simple, but elegant! It is a very long dance, but I think that's why I really like performing it! The steps really showcase my talents, so I enjoy every second of it when I perform it onstage!

What is your set dance?
Planxty Davis

I know you have earned big titles before, so can you describe the feeling of winning a big title?
Winning a big title is actually such an amazing feeling! When you win, the only thing you can think about is how much your hard work, struggles, sacrifice, and dedication has paid off! When I won the 2012 NANS, I actually didn't start crying until my teacher came onstage, and I realized that everything she and I have put into my dancing had finally paid off! I feel like when you win, people (start to) recognize you for the dancing you have put so much of your life into! Just to be recognized for that makes you feel on top of the world! When my team won the Senior Ladies Figure at this current 2013 Worlds, we were hysterically crying. We were mostly crying because the previous year we had come in second, and we worked our butts off for a year straight and spent countless hours full of pain just trying to perfect our dance as much as we could.

What do you do leading up to a major?
Leading up to a major, I actually don't do anything different than what I typically do every day. The only different things would just be practicing doing my wig and makeup to make sure it looks good enough to go onstage. Other than that I do what I normally do.

How many days a week do you practice leading up to a major?
My practice schedule leading up to a major tends to vary just slightly! I always practice solos 4 days a week, teach 2 days, and do strengthening exercises for 1 hour every day to prevent all of my previous injuries from coming back. Because teams is also an important part of my dance career, leading up to majors we have 12 hour team practices every weekend. Sometimes there will be a solos class for an hour or two on team practice weekends. Since NAIDC is in the summer, I have solos class every morning and every night during the week. But weekends are still reserved for teams! For the majority of the year I practice every day of the week, but it is a mix of teams, solos, and teaching!

Do you do any other activities that help you with Irish dancing, such as ballet or track?
I actually don't do any other activities except for dance.  I don't have time for other activities because I spend between 16 to 39 hours at the studio every week. But whenever I get injured I find it helpful to swim laps.

How do you balance school and dance?
Surprisingly, I have never had trouble balancing school and dance. I have never gotten anything less than an A, and I have always taken the highest level course available to me. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I always end up doing the most I can, and never give up on my work. Getting the highest grades I can is very important to me, so I always do my homework no matter what the circumstance. After dance class, I come home, eat, shower and then work until bed. If need be, I wake up early in the morning to finish my homework.

Most teachers struggle with keeping dancers at your age because they lose interest to high school and dating. How do you keep from loosing interest in dance?
Because I have such a strong passion for Irish dance, it has become so much more than just a sport I do. It has become more than a type of dance, it's my lifestyle. Our sport can be comparable in some ways to an Olympic sport, so similarly, our sport can require many sacrifices  your social life at school being one. I just want to be the best dancer I can be, so I put my best interests into it.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
After I graduate, I plan to attend a four year university and keep dancing! Going 3 days without dance drives me insane, so I can't imagine not dancing!

Can you list some of your biggest accomplishments?
2006 Western US Regional champ
2007 7th place at All Ireland's 2008 7th place at Worlds              

2012 8th place at All Ireland's
2012 7th place at Worlds
2012 NANS champ
I have received a couple 100's (first place) at the worlds

Regional and national champion numerous times
2009 girls minor Ceili all Ireland champion
2009 girls minor figure world champion
2013 senior ladies figure world champion

Who is your inspiration? Why?
There are so many dancers who inspire me, and it would take me all day to name them all! But I'd have to say that my biggest inspiration would be my friend, Nicole DeSouza. Right as Nicole was starting to reach the peak of her dance career, she became injured, and has been continually injured for quite some time now. She has had some major setbacks and let downs, and deals with so much pain, but yet she never quits and keeps on dancing. Her desire for dance to keep moving through all her struggles is unreal.

Do you have any favorite dancers? If so, please tell.
I have lots of favorite dancers and that would also take me all day to name them. I love watching Nadine Martin, Olivia Griffin, Fred Nguyen, and Michaela Hinds. They each have their own unique style that I love to watch.

You have  started a new business called Designer Soft Shoes. Can you give us details on how to buy some?
What made you start Designer Soft Shoes? 

Designer Soft shoes is my business where dancers send me their old hard or soft shoes, and I decorate them to match their dress or any other design they like. I started my business after I made my friend pink poodle shoes and socks as a joke  for her birthday.  The shoes came out really well, and I thought it would be cool to start a business.Leading up to the Worlds, I became extremely busy with dance and school, so I actually had to close my business temporarily. But now it is open again. My mom and dad help out when I get very busy with orders.  I

If you are interested in purchasing Designer Soft shoes, please email me here: 

Follow her on Instagram @designersoftshoes and @amandaprobert 

"Carpe Diem"  ~ Quintus Horatius Flaccus

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else, I only try to dance better than myself."
~Mikhail Baryshnikov


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