'I'M SO glad that I'm not sitting at the judges bench with a bump this year,' says Dearbhla Lennon.
The Dundalk-born dancer is back on our screens as one of the judges of the 'Jig Gig' which has returned to TG4. 'It's a great show- one that all the family can watch and the fact that it's in both English and Irish with subtitles,' says Dearbhla of the programme which is now in its fourth season. And she's really enjoying working on this year's show.
'It's a lovely show to work on. Last year I was expecting and the final show of that season was recorded just ten days before my baby was born so it was a bit uncomfortable sitting at the judge's bench,' she recalls. The Jig Gig sees dancers from around the country compete to become TG4's best traditional dance act. Over a thousand dancers of all ages applied to take part in this year's show and this was finally whittled down to 81 acts who are now doing their best to impress judges Dearbhla, Brendan de Gallai, who like Dearbhla is a former lead dancer with Riverdance, and sean-nós dancer Labhrás Sonaichoilm Learnai.
'The dancers are great. You have people appearing on television for the first time and kids who are so excited to be taking part, 'she says. Unlike the X Factor judges who are infamous for their cutting comments, Dearbhla offers constructive criticism to the contestants. 'Obviously they're not all brilliant so I will say it as it is but but I will be nice about it and offer advice in a positive way.' As the judges some from different backgrounds, Dearbhla says they don't always agree. 'We will have our arguments from time to time but it's good craic.' Dearbhla is also featured on the new RTE programme 'Pump Up My Dance'. She is one of nine dancer masters who take young dancers under their wing in order to give a public performance after just a week's preparation.
Each show features a different dance style where 20 hopefuls dance their hearts out. Just like in a professional audition, the Dance Master narrows down the 20 dancers to his/her top five who perform in Smock Alley Theatre just one week later. 'I have to admit that I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for when I signed up to do the show but it's been a great experience,' says Dearbhla.
'The other eight dancer masters are amazing and it's really humbling to be working alongside such big names,' she adds. She's delighted that Irish dancing was picked to be one of the genres chosen along with hip-hop, jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, music theatre, latin and breakdance. Dearbhla continues to teach with her mother Mona's Irish dancing school in Dundalk travelling up and down from her home in Dublin. 'We also teach at a number of other locations and I've recently started teaching in Dublin,' she says.' 'Irish dancing is great thing for kids to learn on so many levels. Even if people don't want to compete, it's great for keeping fit, making friendships and learning about our culture.' She runs the classes in St Paul's Youth Club, Artane every Thursday evening at 6p.m.
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