By Andy Hirst

A blind Huddersfield girl has always wanted to learn how to Irish dance … and within just four weeks has completed her first dance and made her first public performance.

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 but all that changed when her mum contacted the Kane Irish Dance academy in Marsh.

It’s run by Rebecca Kane, a former British, world and all Ireland dance champion, who was immediately determined to make Taaliyah’s dreams come true. Once she began to work with her, Rebecca realised the youngster has a natural drive and talent to succeed.

“My philosophy is that nothing is impossible,” said Rebecca. “Taaliyah certainly does not let her blindness define her. She’s a dancing fighter who will overcome everything to succeed.

“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.”

Taaliyah mastered an Irish dance to Christmas classic Fairytale of New York in just four weeks and then performed at the Lindley Christmas Lights Switch-On.

She is now working on traditional Irish dance The Blackbird which Rebecca describes as “very technical and quite tricky.” The aim is that Taaliyah will do a solo dance at the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival in Huddersfield in February.

“It’ll be by far the biggest challenge so far for her,” said Rebecca. “But I know she’ll master it.”

Taaliyah, who attends Moor End Academy, said: “Irish dance is very vibrant with lots of claps and stomps and now I’ve moved onto The Blackbird I feel I’m managing fine.

“I just love Irish history and culture, so much so that I’m now teaching myself Irish songs on my keyboard. I learn by listening and then recreating the notes. I’d love to go to Ireland some day.”

The Kane Irish Dance academy will be running an Irish dance holiday club just before Christmas for children aged four to 16. It will be on December 19, 20, 21 and 22 at the academy on St James’ Road in Marsh. There are a few free places for children who are eligible for free school meals.

To book go to

To watch a longer video about Taaliyah learning Irish dance go to

To see her first public performance at Lindley Christmas Lights switch-on go to

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.