My name is Fionn McNeill, I am 16 years old and I one of the oldest attending members of Company B, the all-male contemporary Dance Group.
When I was younger, I tried to get myself involved in sport to keep fit and active. Sport seemed to be the only thing that guys did in their spare time and being good at sport always seemed to make you popular. But no matter how many different sports I tried (or how good I was at them), I just never seemed to enjoy them that much.
It was around 2007-2008 that I first started getting into dance. Ciaran Gray who had been my third and fifth class teacher, started a mixed dance group in school. Then, in February 2008, Company B started as a separate group from the school , becoming an all-male group.
Before I had joined the group, dancing had always seemed like an activity that only girls got involved in and guys that did it were criticised. But when the forms were being handed out to join, I saw it as the opportunity that I had always been looking for and since then, I have been in the group for over six years. Sure, you sometimes get comments from people about being a male dancer, but I have tried my best to ignore these and continue to be part of something that I enjoy.
Over time, dancing has given me many different opportunities, including making new friends and travelling; as well as giving me the chance to prove what I am capable of. I have also seen how the older members of my group have developed, not only in their skill, but also in their confidence and sense of responsibility; assisting younger members or becoming examples to other members who have less experience. A good example of this is when it comes to the days and sessions leading up to a show, we’ll encourage more rehearsal, as well as helping other people in the group to learn things and encouraging them to do well.
Sometimes Ciaran will come to us if he can’t remember how a sequence goes and other times we might go to him if we have concerns or questions about a piece that we’re doing. As time goes on, I have realised just how much an influence we can be on the group’s work.
By growing up in Company B and by taking on certain roles, it has really shown me just what my worth is to the group, as well as how much I have developed. It is these thoughts that have kept me going for so long and why I have enjoyed myself so much, (especially when we have a show going on, then we all try to have a bit of fun).
I will admit that I am not the most flexible of our members and sure I make mistakes, but that is not what Company B is about. It is about performing to the best of your ability and enjoying yourself while doing it and that is definitely what I am doing and I hope to continue to do it in the future.