Pro Dancer Emily Barker & Aidan Forgarty on RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars
Aidan Fogarty from Urlingford, County Kilkenny, played successfully as a left corner-forward for the Kilkenny senior team and has eight All-Ireland medals to his name. Throughout his career Fogarty made 38 championship appearances. He announced his retirement from inter-county hurling in November 2014.
For the first time ever he is making his debut on the dance floor and swapping his hurl for sequins and fake tan. Aidan will be taking part in Season 4 of RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars, which kick starts this Sunday evening.
The format of the Show is to follow celebrities being paired up with professional dancers, who perform predetermined dances each week for judges' scores and public votes, with the couple with the lowest number of points being eliminated, until the winning couple remains. Aidan has already started the intense training, which he reckons is tougher than any hurling session. I caught up with him for an exclusive interview ahead of Dancing with the Stars opening night.
Taggy, can you tell me about a day in your life with Dancing with the Stars (DWTS).
Morning: I’m still working at the moment, so I’m up around 6am to get my jobs done.
Midday: I try to be in Dublin about 3/4pm for dance training. I try to have something to eat before I start, because once I start there’s not another break until late.
Evening: We train until 7pm, there’s a break for a quick sandwich. At 10pm we finish. Then, I hit the road home. At home I stretch and I foam roll before bed. It’s not a glamorous life at all.
How did you get roped into DWTS?
It was very random Siobhan, about two months ago I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in Dancing with the Stars. I thought it was a prank call but when they started talking the lingo, I knew it was for real. It was ShinAwil a production company that works with RTÉ. They asked if I would be interested in doing the Show. It was a very strange phone call to get so I said I’d meet them for a coffee, and sure enough I said I would give it a go!
Can you actually dance?
I can’t actually dance, but I like to think I have a bit of rhythm! I have never professionally danced or even knew what the Foxtrot was before, I do now!
It’s funny the lads were onto me lately, giving me a slagging, because out the Kilkenny team I was the dancer! I was called in on many dance offs with a bit of Dutch courage in me! So the lads think the right man was picked for the job.
Talking about the Kilkenny hurling team, you are a 8 time All-Ireland senior hurling player. How does the dance training compare to hurling training?
To be fair, it actually doesn’t compare. It’s a totally different type of training, DWTS is all day and intense. It’s 10am until 5pm on Saturdays and in the evening time its 5pm to 10pm. With the Kilkenny hurling training you are geared up for 1.5 hours of training, this is a constant 5 hours in the studio with little breaks in between. Some of the dances are really hard, I’m after losing half a stone in just over two weeks.
We’ve seen you on Instagram already nursing bruises with bags of peas. So there’s been some injuries already?
Unfortunately my hurling injuries are after coming back to haunt me. My hips are killing me as well as my glutes. I broke my leg ten years ago and that’s a killer as a lot of dancing is done on my toes. Recovery sessions are vital, icing it, stretching and foam rolling – I thought those days were long gone.
With the hurling you would have looked after your diet and worked out the gym. Is there any time for that with DWTS?
I haven’t time to go to the gym, at the moment I am still working, My eating habits are normally good but right now it’s just grab and go with food from a deli. Hopefully in January I will be more organised. I will be off work, so hopefully I’II have a routine put together. However I think myself and John Edward will be heading for the spice box most Sunday nights after the live shows.
How are you getting John Edward, a fellow Kilkenny man and last year’s winner?
John has been fantastic to me. When I started I was a bit out of my depth and my comfort zone. In fairness to John, he came over to me and told me to just be myself, that I was entitled to be here just as much as everyone else.
John is the top dog up there, he is one of the best dancers and well respected.
Can he win two years in a row?
He is a lovely fellow but I’m hoping to spilt the vote some way in Kilkenny!
You sound competitive already?
My objective is to do well and to enjoy it. To come across as myself, my own personality and not to be fake. If I get far in the competition that’s great, if I win it that will be a pure bonus.
RTÉ have just announced your pro dance partner is Emily Barker. Does Emily have to teach you everything?
She does, she puts all the choreography to all the dances. She puts it to the directors of the show and they approve it. Then she comes to me and then she teaches me everything from scratch.
How does she compare to Brian Cody?
She is definitely better looking than Brian Cody! Seriously, she has the same traits - she is passionate, and she wants to succeed. She is only 23 years of age, she is so young but yet so driven.
There is the ‘Strictly Curse’ or opportunity, whatever you look at it. Are you looking for love?
No, I’II concentrate on the dancing for now!
What about the day job, did you have to give it up?
At the minute I am actually working, it’s a very busy time of year for us. I’m an IT engineer and I look after the back office systems, software and upgrades for shops and hotels. The company I work for is CBE in Claremorris in Co. Mayo. They are great and are giving me January off, with paid leave so I can’t thank them enough.
What happens on the first show this Sunday (5th January)?
On Sunday night it’s the group dance and the male first dance and the week after will be the girls dance. Nobody is voted off on the first night, but the judges do vote and the votes are carried forward to two weeks later, so you need to do your best.
The group of celeb dancers seem to be great pals already?
The cliché thing is that everyone is so nice and so sound, but we are. You don’t have much choice as we all a bit nervous and out of our comfort zones, plus we don’t want to see anyone fall down. So yes we are friends and we help each other as we all want to perform very well. There is competitiveness in me as a sports person but in everyone else as well.
Have you done live TV before?
I’ve never done live TV but I am familiar with live radio. I work for KCLR, I do the analysis on the matches and commentate on the Kilkenny matches as well as podcasts for the Racing Post. I have to say the TV camera in my face is a bit daunting, especially with all the fake tan and make up that goes with it!
The outfits are outrageous, do you have any say in what you wear?
I have no say at all in the outfits. Mind you, some people have enquired about where I got the pants! (as per above photo).
I’ve been told as the weeks go on that I will want more glitter and more glam. For example the first time I had the fake tan, I told them to go handy on it and asked for just a shimmer. The next time I asked for it a bit darker! That will be every Saturday for a while, please God.
Are you nervous about the first show with all the eyes of Kilkenny as well as Ireland looking at you?
I am nervous, I know the dance but it’s totally different dancing in front of cameras, the three judges, an audience and the odd million people looking at it, as well as outside Ireland. I think I need to treat it like a match, do my own thing and be in the zone.
You are going to be moving into an apartment with Fr. Ray Kelly while the show is on?
Yes, we are becoming besties, He is a fierce nice man and he told me all about his video going viral. He even has a record deal over in America.
I hear he has been late for rehearsals?
Yes, but his excuse is that he was saying Mass, which no one can argue with!
Why should people vote for you on DWTS?
I am hoping people will vote for me for my dancing! It’s also kind of a journey, I think every week if you are getting better and better you should get a vote. Hopefully my personality will come across. I’II be myself, hopefully I am likeable and get the Kilkenny votes behind me.
Is there anything that people might not know about you?
There’s a lot of things but I am not going to share them! I suppose the persona of Taggy is that I am confident and that everything is no problem to me. However there’s a real side of me that is vulnerable at times and I can be very deep type of person.
Is there anything on your bucket list?
I was on a trip recently trip to New York with Kilkenny GAA and Kieran’s College. I interviewed Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin and the two Downey sisters at a big function in Manhattan. I really enjoyed the interview process. I was also a guest presenter on the radio and enjoyed that too, and talking to the sports people. I am more interested on what goes on behind the scenes in their personal life that got them to where they are today.
Finally, why are you called Taggy?
My older brother was called ‘Froggy’ in primary school. So when I started, I was called Tadpole, being the younger brother. Tadpole turned into Taggy!
Dancing with the Stars returns Sunday, 5 January at 6.30pm on RTÉ One. Don’t miss Aidan take to the dance floor for his first dance. Make sure to tune and vote for our Taggy (VOTE AIDAN 53125)