A blind Huddersfield girl who always wanted to learn how to Irish dance left the audience deeply moved at a famous Huddersfield music festival.

Taaliyah Bates, 12, became besotted with Irish music, culture and dance after hearing The Pogues’ version of Fairytale of New York.

The Newsome youngster feared her disability would thwart her chances of ever dancing but all that changed when her mum contacted the Kane Irish Dance academy in Marsh.

Owner Rebecca Kane taught her how to dance to Fairytale of New York and her ambition was then to dance on stage at the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival. This ambition was realised when she was invited to dance at the festival’s dance evening event.

Taaliyah didn’t only perform Irish dancing but also played a keyboard solo for the audience at the festival who erupted into cheers and applause at the end. She played Fairytale of New York and a traditional Irish tune called Tam Lin which is also known as Glasgow Reel.

Taaliyah, Bernadette Fleming and Rebecca danced a traditional Irish set called The Blackbird. Another Kane dancer, seven-year-old Skyla Lockwood, danced two solos which were her first ever public performances.

Rebecca said: “Taaliyah’s piano piece sent a shiver down the spine of anyone listening. She is a bundle of joy and showed no nerves before she went on stage, more just excitement as  she’s a born performer.

“The audience was absolutely enthralled and she got the biggest cheer of the night.”

Bernadette is a former pupil of Huddersfield dance teacher, the late Norah Oscarby, and was also Rebecca’s first teacher. She was so inspired seeing Taaliyah’s determination to do Irish dance she’s now come back to it.

Taaliyah made the news shortly before Christmas when she first mastered the dance for the Pogues’ song.

Rebecca, a former British, world and all Ireland dance champion who fuses kick boxing with Irish dance, said at the time: “My philosophy is that nothing is impossible. Taaliyah certainly does not let her blindness define her. She’s a dancing fighter who will overcome everything to succeed.

Taaliyah Bates (second left) with Rebecca Kane (second right) and dancers Skyla Lockwood (right) and Bernadette Fleming

“There is a real grit about her. Irish dancing is certainly not that easy to learn. When she came through our doors she needed assistance walking but is now doing rhythms that some youngsters can’t do after four or five years of Irish dance. You couldn’t ask for a better pupil, she’s so inspiring.

“You simply can’t teach that kind of passion – it comes from within. It’s something that’s quite rare.”

She added: “The Blackbird we did for the Mrs Sunderland Festival is very technical and quite tricky and was a big challenge for Taaliyah but I knew she’d master it.”

Taaliyah, who attends Moor End Academy, said: “Irish dance is very vibrant with lots of claps and stomps. I just love Irish history and culture and I’d love to go to Ireland some day.”

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.