TV presenter Micheál Ó Ciaraidh shares his gameplan for the upcoming Irish dancing contest An Ríl Deal.
This Sunday, Letterkenny native Micheál Ó Ciaraidh is going to be taking to a dancefloor in front of the nation to show off his moves, or at least to pretend he knows what he’s doing.
Micheál (29) is the face of Cula4, presenting shows for kids around the country, but this latest dance competition is no child’s play. The new TG4 series, An Ríl Deal sees Micheál competing against six other celebrities and dancing in front of three judges to avoid elimination.
The six-week series will see the celebrities being whittled off one by one if they can’t keep time.
Before the all-important debut show, the celebrities have been trying to get to grips with the rhythm of Irish dancing and have been paired up with leading amateur Irish dancers to learn the basics.
Micheál was partnered with dancer Aoife Dempsey to learn pure Irish dancing, while the other celebrities had to learn variations like set, sean nos and brush dancing.
Micheál took some time to talk to Donegal Woman ahead of the first show.
“When I was asked to do it my first thought was no way, I’m not a dancer and never will be!” Micheál said.
“I have no problem with different settings and working as an MC, but this has put me totally out of my comfort zone.”
Micheál eagerly took on the challenge when he learned that he could do it for the benefit of a charity of his choice.
Each celebrity who entered the competition receives €1000 for a charity, with the overall prize being €5000.
Micheál has chosen to donate his winnings to Pieta House.
“I quickly saw that there was a good reason behind it. If nothing else, at least I will be able to bring some good exposure to the charity.”
To learn Irish dancing in four weeks was no easy task for Micheál, but he has created a clever plan in a bid to impress the judges.
The Irish proverb tells us that “Dhá dtrian den damhsa an chosúlacht” – Two thirds of the secret of dancing is looking like you know what you’re doing – and that’s Micheál’s plan.
“My aim is to fake it! I have always wanted to be able to learn Irish dancing. I think it’s a cool skill to have. For this competition, it’s about trying to learn the basics, get the rhythm and get some kind of real Irish dancing into it.”
Micheál will be encountering his opposition this week too. Other Irish personalities taking to the dancefloor are Séamus Begley, Linda Ervine, Ruairí McSorley, Valerie Mulcahy, Rossa Ó Snodaigh and Linda Bhreathnach.
Since An Ríl Deal is going to be for charity, Micheál expects the competition should be mostly friendly. “There’s going to be a real eclectic mix of personalities from so many different backgrounds. I’m really looking forward to just getting out there now.”
“I’m really enjoying the rehearsals and all the craic with the competition. I’m definitely under pressure at the moment, since we’ve a lot to do before the first show.”
“You never know what can happen in a live show, in front of three judges and cameras everywhere,” he said.
The three judges are Breandán de Gallaí, Sibéal Davitt and Roy Galvin. One unlucky dance couple will be eliminated at the end of each show.
Micheál said that he will be keeping Pieta House in mind as he dances to stay in the competition for as long as he can.
“Pieta House is a charity close to my heart in the way that I know the founder and have seen how far it has come in recent years. At the moment I think mental health is at a brilliant level of awareness. It’s such an amazing time in the country for being able to talk about it.”
“I think young people are really getting good information about mental health and are seeing role models speaking out about it. I just want to help continue this talking sphere because the more awareness we have the better.”
Will Micheál come to discover his inner dancer? At the moment it seems he’s happy to be getting out on the stage and show off what he’s learned.
“I’m not trying to become Micheal Flatley, I’m just trying to have a bit of craic and pick up a few steps along the way,” he said.
An Ríl Deal is on TG4 this Sunday, November 27th at 8pm.