He was a Man of the Year finalist (2011) and an award winner as Best Role Model (2014); since that time we have watched Tyler’s increasingly global influence on expanding Irish Dancing’s exposure as an art form on social media. His innovation, “can do attitude” and drive are what ultimately rose to the top in this year’s Man of the Year selection.
“Irish dancing has always been a part of my life. Ever since I could walk, my family was going to and from Irish dance studios for my older sister, Lindsay. At first, I thought Irish dance was something only girls did. However, after traveling to Ireland to cheer on Lindsay at her first World Championships, I saw male Irish dancing at the top level, and I was sold,” explains Tyler. That moment, now almost 20 years ago, played an immense role in his life, and there has been no deviating from his love and passion for Irish Dancing ever since that day.
Nominated by his Aunt, Trish Weekly TCRG of the Craoi na Tire Studio of Irish Dance, Trish shares with IDM that Tyler represents all that is good in Irish Dancing. “I have witnessed Tyler working with young people and encouraging them regardless of their level or ability for as long as he has been dancing. He would help assist the dancers that people were frustrated working with and turned them into confident and capable dancers. I have watched him take as much time as a dancer needs to talk to them after a grueling performance when I know he would rather be hitting the showers in order to encourage them or listen to them talk about their first feis or teach a step. He lifts people up and has a way about him that will keep the good parts of Irish dance alive.
”From a skill set, Tyler keeps raising the bar on improving his dancing. Currently Tyler is expanding the world of Irish dance with blowing up social media with his impactful videos. “He is getting kids and young adults to dust off the shoes and challenge themselves and always in a way that is encouraging each dancer to be their best on their own journey. He is a great example of the complete picture of Irish Dance,” says Trish. She believes Tyler is a dancer who has honed his craft competitively as a World Champion but also professionally. “He is known for being an innovative choreographer and performing, pushing the limits of the dance form while respecting its traditions."
After winning the Worlds in 2013 and graduating from Loyola University in Chicago in 2014, Tyler decided to put his teaching degree on hold to pursue a professional Irish Dance career. “While competing, I loved to not just execute my steps, but perform them! The performance became the motivation for me. My decision to move on to professional dance occurred when I realized I cared more about the performance of my steps, than my placement in the competition!”
His first two years of professional dancing took him all over the world. “I began my career as lead ‘bad guy’ for Magic oftheDance. From there I went on to be a principal dancer for multiple productions, including GaelforceDance, An IrishChristmas, and Busch Garden’s Celtic Fyre. This past year began with an entire year of professional dancing booked, including, Rockin’ Roadto Dublin’s first national tour, An Irish Christmas, Busch Garden’s Celtic Fyre, andFusion Fighters.”
While Tyler was doing well in the professional shows circuit from the moment he stepped on stage, he knew he wanted to create a larger name for himself in the dance world and believed the best way to do this was by having a strong social media presence. “Staying current is important, and I saw social media as a way boost my relevance. I also saw this as an opportunity to showcase how fun and cool Irish dancing could be.”
In January 2017, the dance world was a buzz with news that megastar Ed Sheeran was casting Irish Dancers in an upcoming video. At the same time, Fusion Fighters put a challenge out to Irish Dancers through their own social media to post dancing videos with the hashtag #Step4Sheeran as a clever way to catch Ed Sheeran’s eye. Tyler participated, putting up a short video of himself dancing, utilizing the hashtag. Very quickly Tyler’s video garnered over 60,000 views and although he didn’t get cast in Ed Sheeran’s video, Tyler saw firsthand the power of social media for an Irish Dancer and wanted to develop more videos. The timing was good because he was on tour with a dancer who was also a videographer –Billy Kanaly of Oak Cast Media. Billy agreed to help Tyler and soon Tyler launched more videos and his popularity and following on social media continued to grow.
It wasn’t long before the giant social media company, Instagram, took notice of Tyler’s growing popularity. “I received an email from Instagram wondering if I would like to be their featured person on St. Patrick’s Day! Up until the day it premiered, I thought it was fake. It turned out to be very real!!!” Instagram posted a video of Tyler on their official Instagram page, and soon Tyler’s video had over five million views. Sometimes it just takes one lucky break for things to begin snowballing, and what followed was an avalanche of opportunities.
Shortly after the Instagram video went viral, Tyler was contacted by the social media company NowThis News asking if he would be interested in being one of their feature stories and Tyler jumped on the opportunity. The two-minute video launched with the tagline: “This 25-year-old world champ is showing everyone how cool Irish dancing really is.”Suddenly, Tyler had another 3.2 million views of his life story and work. In addition, Tyler caught the attention of a worldwide dance brand, Capezio Dance. Tyler soon found himself promoting Capezio as an official Brand Ambassador for the company; the first male, Irish Dancer to represent the brand.
Since then, he has been touring the world and busy on social media as well.
After Rockin’ Road to Dublin wrapped up, Tyler headed to Busch Gardens’ Celtic Frye as the principal lead dancer from April thru August of 2017. In between he has worked with dancers, made many new videos and launched a YOUTUBE channel. Since October, he has been the “front man” for Fusion Fighters touring mainland Europe.
As for the future, Tyler loves the idea of promoting how cool and fun Irish Dancing is. “To me, it is an echo back to all those older guys who inspired me. I want to provide that same inspiration and motivation to the next generation.” Recently Tyler began doing livestream dance sessions on YOUTUBE, where he creates, and practices live on camera! People cantune in, and live chat with Tyler while he practices. Tyler also uses social media to engage with his fans with interesting dance challenges such as the “ten heel clicks in one jump” challenge. “I would set aside some time each week to attempt more andmore, getting up to nine! Then, I accomplished my longtim
e goal of getting tenheel clicks in one jump!” All along Tyler’s fans tuned in, watching his progress in awe and cheering him on as he accomplished his ten-click goal. Tyler is a great illustration of a dancer who has a plan and makes it happen, regardless of how much work he needs to put in to achieve his goal!
Tyler is an outstanding choice for Man of the Year. Not only does he have a vast amount of competitive achievements, he is also a fabulous role model and inspiration to many.“I find so much passion and love in what I do each day, whether it is creating new choreography, working with the next generation of dancers, or performing to an audience! I want to continue pursuing those three engagements, or what I like to call the “trifecta”, of creating, teaching, and performing.”
Tyler seems destined to have his career firmly set in the world of dance. “Since I was very young, I have always enjoyed creating new dance steps and tricks. I was always driven to try new moves, and push the boundaries! Sometimes, I would have trouble sleeping at night because I would be caught up in a new idea, or combination! My dream job would have to allow me to tickle that creative side of the brain as much as possible.” From a very young age, Tyler had a yearning to become a professional artist and shares with IDM that he now channels that desire every day into his performances, no matter how big or small the audiences are. “Whether it is virtual or live, I love being on stage.
”In the world of Irish Dance, you can never predict what will happen next. “The past year has been a whirlwind of excitement and unpredictability, but I have loved every second of it, and have embraced every opportunity with the support of friends and family. I will never forget two life missions, that I continue to live by. I will honor and respect those who came before me, and inspire and motivate those yet to come.”