John Edward Nolan, from Nore Terrace in Kilkenny City, returned to St John’s Senior Primary School and told students that if they "love to do anything then give it a shot".
The popular Kilkenny native, who dances with celebrity and actress Deirdre O’Kane on the hit series Dancing with the Stars on RTÉ, said they train a minimum of 6-8 hours a day for the programme.
He spoke about his time on the show and answered students’ questions during his visit to the school last Monday morning.
Speaking about his experience on Dancing with the Stars and last week’s performance, John said: “I was really happy Sunday night because that was actually my favourite dance. Deirdre performed it absolutely amazingly. She’s beyond a pleasure to work with. It’s very good, it’s intense. It’s so competitive this year. The levels have jumped since series one.”
The pair performed a quickstep dance to ‘Peppy and George’ from the movie ‘The Artist’ which is set in the 1920s and the dancing duo received a standing ovation from the crowd present.
John’s father, also named John, interrupted and said: “As a matter of fact, John Edward nearly cried after the dance.”
A comment which was met with a round of “awwws” from the students present. But the DWTS professional explained: “It is a special piece really because that is just basically me in a dance piece.
“That’s my style, that’s my era. I wish I was born in that era. I feel I was in the wrong generation. The music, the whole setting and Deirdre, the performance, the look, everything.”
When asked by one of the students about how he became a dancer, John added: “I started dancing when I was four. I started doing step dancing and Irish dancing.
“When I was in 6th class with Ms Feeley and kind of 1st year, that’s when I kind of decided that I really wanted to try do this career because I just love it.
“If anybody here loves to dance, or sing or write or study, whatever you love to do, if you love to do anything, give it a shot. No matter what it is, it’s always worth it.
“If you really feel you’d love to do it, go for it. It doesn’t feel like work when you love what you’re doing.”
John was asked if he feels like a celebrity and the humble professional said: “Coming into something like this makes you feel a bit wow.
“When I was just like you sitting there it was the hurlers coming in with the All-Ireland trophy. I never thought I’d be coming in like this. So it’s a bit crazy and a bit weird. I don’t see myself as a celebrity.
“I’m a dancer just doing my job.”
John reckons after last weekend’s performance both he and Deirdre have “a good chance” of winning but admitted contestants like Anna Geary, Erin McGregor and Marty Morrisey will provide stiff competition.
During the visit he also took out one of the students to give them a Cha-Cha-Cha lesson and danced with St John’s, Sarah Bryan, who was described as ‘light-footed’ by her principal, Brian Roche.
John’s former sixth class teacher, Anna-Marie Feeley, also spoke about John and said: “He was brilliant. He was big into performing, drama, music. He’d often come in after a show and we’d get him to do a bit of a spin.
“He was brilliant in every way, academically too. It’s brilliant to see him here.”
She added: “He’s the same guy today he was in 6th class, he’s just taller.”
Brian said the school was immensely proud to have John back and said: “We look forward to doing this for many many years to come.
“We’re really proud of you. You’re doing a fantastic job. It’s inspirational for the children when they see a past pupil come back who did follow his dreams and to see him being such a success.”
John and Deirdre will be dancing again next Sunday evening and to vote during the show, you can text ‘DEIRDRE’ to 53125 or call 1513 7171 08.