World champion dancer John Timm laces up his hard shoes for Dublin Irish Fest
Click, click, boom.
PHOTO BY JODI MILLER
Celtic rock and Killian’s often steal the spotlight during the Dublin Irish Festival, but much of the shindig’s color and flash comes from its full slate of traditional dance. No one steps on stage better than John Timm. He started dancing as a child, won a men’s world title in 1993, then retired from competition to teach with the Richens/Timm Academy of Irish Dance. He’ll perform with the Celtic Foot Force and the academy as the Dublin festival celebrates its 25th anniversary Aug. 3-5. Timm spoke about what keeps his feet tapping.
My mother came from Scotland when she was 16 or 17 years old. She met my father, they settled in Dayton. I had an older sister who wanted to get into Scottish dancing. My mom couldn’t find a Scottish dance teacher. In the Yellow Pages, she found an Irish dance teacher and thought, “Close enough.”
It’s a very athletic form of dance. You put on the hard shoes. It’s percussive. And I think any boy loves to make noise. As I got older, it became obvious that I had a certain skill level for it, and then competition started to drive me to practice, wanting to stay involved in it.
As a young guy in high school, I would definitely admit this: The amount of girls in dancing always intrigued me.
When I won the Worlds, to me it was just a natural progression to move into full-time teaching. I love working with kids. What better way than to take what you love doing more than anything else and teach them how to do that?
The beauty in Irish dancing is the syncopation and the unison of a line of dancers. The precision of eight to 10 people, 10 to 20 people doing the same movement, in sync, same height levels of extension of their legs and foot placement on the floor.
I love the festival scene because it’s so much more intimate than theaters. At festivals, you can look out, make eye contact with people. You can actually see them enjoying what you’re doing and, therefore, elevate your performance, because you know that you’re bringing so much enjoyment to their day.