An Introduction to Irish Dance

With fall coming up, things are getting a little livelier in the dance studios. Fall performances are lining up and practice for this year’s Oireachtas is underway. The Tampa feis is being held at the end of September and my team and I will be competing with the Four Hand Reel.

     What with dance being on my mind, I found myself wondering how to explain this world to those who aren’t familiar with it. Usually when I tell people I’m an Irish Dancer they say, ‘oh like Riverdance?’ (this is usually followed by them putting their hands on their hips and kicking their legs out randomly), or I’m met with a blankly polite look.

     To a lot of people their first experience can be overwhelming, or even off-putting. It’s hard to get past the fake curly wigs and the rainbow colored dresses drenched in Swarovski. Not to mention the strange habit of applying fake tans to legs (this I do not approve of, it’s just plain silly).

(Credit: John McDevitt)

(Credit: John McDevitt)

This is the typical look for an Irish Dancer. Yes, it’s over the top. When you first start you tell yourself, “psh, I’m never wearing that.” Then one day you realize it doesn’t seem so strange anymore. Next thing you know you’ve been talked into buying a wig. Suddenly your doodling solo dresses. Full Irish Dance immersion complete.

 
But I want people to look past the glitzy outside. Too often we’re dismissed as nothing more than another beauty pageant, I want people to understand the strength, skill, dedication and passion it takes to do this. We may look pretty and sparkly but don’t be fooled, this is a competitive sport.
I challenged myself to find three videos that ‘explain’ Irish Dance. This is what I came up with.
 
1: A girl practicing part of her nontrad set. This one stands for the effort and practice we put into dance. Also, the competitive spirit, take a look at all those trophies! And all well deserved.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHv10FQm_tw
 
 
2: The opening reel at a performance. This one stands for skill and precision.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70cc1dJStA4

 

3: This one stands for the passion and the fun! It’s also nice to see the natural hair and simple dresses.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbFGm7HxD0Q

I’m going to cheat and add a bonus video, it’s so fun that I couldn’t resist. This one shows the creative side,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdPXxxgyuEc

This is Irish Dance. I love it and I never want to stop. Just remember …

Irish dance quotes

If you are interested, I encourage you to check out local schools! Whether you’re looking for competition, a fun weekly workout, or if your heart lies on the stage, you’ll be glad you tried it out!

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