"It's not always about getting first place. It's about improving and doing things to the best of your abilities. Set a goal and aspire to achieve it and work hard to get there."Erin Quinn brings nearly 30 years of dancing experience to the school that bears her name – experience that has brought her from the stage with “Riverdance,” to the White House, to television screens in Korea, and to multiple stops in between.
Quinn opened the Quinn School of Irish Dance in 2001, almost 20 years after beginning her own competitive career.
She credits a direct approach from her former teachers at the O’Hare School of Irish Dance, where she competed, with helping her succeed. She brings a similar style to her own teaching, she said.
There’s no sugar coating to her approach, she said, but she hopes the hard work brings her students success and life skills that go beyond the dance studio or the stage.
“It’s not always about getting first place,” Quinn said. “It's about improving and doing things to the best of your abilities. Set a goal and aspire to achieve it and work hard to get there.”
More than a decade of teaching also has taught Quinn some lessons. Methods that were successful for her or that might be successful for some of her students are not always successful for other students.
“People learn differently,” she said, stressing the value of patience. “You have to adjust the way you explain things, say the same things but in different ways.”
Quinn’s career also has brought her many experiences outside of competition. In 1999, along with other dancers from O’Hare, she was invited to perform at the White House for President and Mrs. Clinton during their St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The same year, she auditioned for and was selected to join the Riverdance Flying Squad, performing with them intermittently for about five years. In the years that followed she toured Europe with the Trinity Irish Dance Company and was one of the dancers featured in an Irish dance-themed television commercial for LG Electronics that aired primarily in Korea.
Quinn said the experiences have made her more open-minded, more open to new things and experiences – values she hopes to share with her students.
“It makes you less sheltered,” she said. “It’s challenging and fun and worth it. It isn't always about the hard work. It's about meeting people from the different schools, going to the competitions, meeting people from different places.”