When it comes to dancing, you need to love what you’re doing – even your mistakes. There are a lot of dancers out there who are perfectionists; they’re so impressive and fantastic and I’m sure they love what they’re doing, but I find it isolating. I think a dancer who loves what they’re doing and just does it will inspire others to get moving and do the thing that brings them joy.
My name is Megh Devlin and I am a technical writer and instructional designer. I fell into my profession after I decided not to pursue teaching. Technical writing and instructional design seemed like a perfect way to learn and teach every day without having to stand in front of a room of teenagers!
I have been living in and out of Ireland for the past eight years. I first came to Ireland in 2013 for Erasmus – I had heard about the Irish World Academy at UL and wanted to take Irish dance classes in a university setting. I haven’t been able to stay away since!
Outside of my job, I love to Irish dance – I’m constantly thinking about dance, practicing rhythms while waiting for coffee to brew, and watching videos of dancers from around the world. I first became interested in dancing when I was seven or eight. There were a lot of Irish dancers at my school – I had never seen Irish dance until they did a performance in the cafeteria on St. Patrick’s Day, and I was just smitten. I especially loved the costumes: black velvet dresses with satin capes and Tara brooches. But the dancing was like nothing I had seen before, which gave it such an air of mystery.
I take inspiration from so many people, but in particular, I am inspired by my friend Meghan Kelly. She owns the Kelly School of Irish Dance in Rhode Island, and she brings so much passion and innovation to the world of competitive Irish dance.
I really don’t know any other kind of dance aside from Irish dance! That being said, there are different styles in the Irish dance world, and I love them all. Recently, I’ve been dabbling more in sean-nós dancing because I love the way each dancer can bring their own personal “shtyle” to the steps. I used to compete at feiseanna, but I’m not a particularly competitive person. Last year, I started busking in Galway City and fell in love with it. Galway is such a hub for Irish trad; it feels so special to be part of the fabric of the community.
What I love the most about dancing is that it just makes me so happy, and I’m not even really sure why. When I’m dancing and I’m having a good time, I feel like the best version of myself. Currently, I’m studying for my dance grade exams so that someday I can be a certified Irish dance teacher. In the future, I also would love to dance at a session.
There are similarities between dancing and my current occupation. Technical writing is a process that requires a lot of trial and error, much like dancing. When you’re tasked with writing a technical document, you often start from a place of 90% unknowing, spend a lot of time trying and failing and writing and rewriting, and then, eventually, you’ll have a document that seems far too short for the amount of time you spent working on it! They say that easy reading is hard writing, and I think the same applies to dance.
Dancing has been a benefit to my technological career. Technical writing requires that you not be embarrassed by what you don’t know and instead to actively live in that unknowing to seek out answers from experts and research. It can be extremely intimidating to be the “less techy” member of the team in a tech company, but confidence is crucial. You need to be confident that even if you don’t initially understand something, you know that you will get where you need to be in the end. This is something that happens all the time in dancing! Sometimes, I’ll be dancing and it’ll be going great, but all of a sudden, I’ll find myself on the foot I didn’t expect to be, or the song is going on longer than expected, or the tune has changed entirely. Being confident in what I do know helps me to cope with the unexpected.
For anyone interested in taking up dancing, Riverdance stars are providing tutorials, and dance schools are offering lessons over video conferences. Once you learn your first step, put on a show from your driveway or dance for yourself in the kitchen. The great thing about dancing is that you can do it anywhere!
There is always more than tech. Tech is fantastic and allows us to do all sorts of amazing things, but at the end of the day, we’re all just people. What’s the point of a video chat if you can’t share your excitement with a friend about learning something new? Why do we care about high-speed trains if they’re not getting us more quickly to see a friend perform in a play or so that we can spend more time doing the things we love? We need to do things that make us happy; otherwise, I don’t see much point in anything else!