Professional Irish dancer Tess McGovern has created an artistic visual piece, signifying a reconnection with her home town of Doolin and her sense of place in the world.
Only by being surrounded by pure beauty throughout lockdown did Tess find the courage to lift herself out of a dark place, following the closure of her dance school of five years in 2020.
“I’ve only known from the age of about 15 onwards, that I’m a dancer and dance teacher. I was chasing this endless, unachievable goal, which is full of hard work and good things, but when it’s gone, it’s like its decimated. There was no word of it coming back. Maybe if you worked in other creative outlets like fashion or writing, you could still do that. When dance was taken away, it was like I was there, but not fully living,” she told The Clare Echo.
Tess first began to dance at the age of three, where she attended the Michael Russell festival in 1995. She landed her first professional gig in 2014 and spent three months in Spain. She then returned to UL to study Irish Music and Dance, making the vital connections that would lead to her teaching at Rising Stars Dance School in Croagh school of music.
When the pandemic hit in March last year, Tess was in Milwaukee. Returning home to a full lockdown, on March 19th, Tess decided to finish out the semester teaching classes over Zoom. Then she decided to close the school permanently and moved back in with her parents in Doolin. What quickly ensued was a massive loss of identity. “I missed dance classes, teaching students and my friends,” she stated.
Tess conceded that COVID reinfused a sense of community and tranquillity into the village of Doolin, having always felt that it was unsafe as a child due to the constant flux of tourism. “We all experienced the feeling of what can make Doolin really happy when it’s not in the rat race.”
After a six-month hiatus of finding-herself, she wanted to do something new, “I still loved to dance. Something had clicked in me in that I was content with who I am.” This led to the creation of the video ‘Immersed in Blue.’ Tess wanted to show others the message that we can have everything and still be apart. “It’s normal in 2020 to feel lost,” she added. The video is directed and produced by Clem McInerney.
Tess stated that her career has taken a different spin and she hopes to promote a positive message of mental health going forward. She also hopes to recommence teaching, albeit with a more mature approach focused on the children and not just getting through the syllabus. She also empathises with other professional dancers, their voices lost beneath the waves of Covid-19.
“Like athletes we have been going intensely at our crafts since teenagers. A lot of them are struggling. We all hear about the needs of musicians and singers during this time, but what about dancers. We all love to dance. I feel like there should be more financial support for dance schools,” she believed.