YOU CAN LEARN IRISH DANCE
Irish Dance Basics
A form of dancing which emphasizes a solo routine. While often done in groups, these dances can be performed individually and emphasize foot work and arrangements of steps. Step dancing falls into two broad groups, soft and hard shoe, which each have their own routines and techniques.
Social dancing which can include an unlimited number of couples to set routines, some of which can have advanced choreography. Ceili dances may have a caller, as we are familiar with in Square dancing. Dances include Walls of Limerick, Haymakers, Waves of Tory, etc.
Set dancing is a group dance performed with a set number of people. Similar to modern square dancing, all set dances are performed with four sets of couples for a total of 8 people.
Soft shoes, or ghillies, are the Irish dance equivalent to a ballet shoe. Ghillies have a soft leather sole and the iconic criss-crossed laces. A variety of jigs and reels and ceili dances are performed using this type of shoe.
Hard shoes, or Jig, treble or heavy shoes, are the Irish dance equivalent to a tap shoe. Modern hard shoes have hollow fiberglass heels and toe taps. Hard shoes are often used in stage performances with large groups performing rapid and intricate routines.
Irish Dance Basics
Irish dance emphasizes a very straight body posture with little movement of the hips or arms.
Most of the action comes from the legs and feet with the goal of keeping the upper body very straight.
Dancers will spend most of their time up on the balls of their feet with toes pointed during steps and kicks.
Legs will generally be crossed during steps and while standing.
Basic Irish Dance Steps
Verbally: Step, Together, Step, Hop
To perform, step forward with the lead foot, keeping the knee straight and toes pointed. Step trailing foot to behind the lead foot. Step out again with the lead foot. Hop onto your lead foot, kicking the trailing foot back to kick your bottom.
Used at beginning and end of many dances, advance retire utilizes the skip step pattern forward, then reverses it to go backwards.
Verbally: Whip 2-3-4-5-6-7
This move is a series of side steps to a count of seven. Travel begins in the direction of the lead leg, i.e. right leg in front travels to the right. To perform, the lead leg will step out to the side, the trailing leg will follow, crossing behind the lead leg. Repeat.
Hop Back 2-3s
Used as a transition move to change directions. The Hop back 2-3 is a simple movement. The front leg will bend up at the knee while hopping in place on the trailing foot. The lead foot will set back down tightly behind the other foot, shifting the weight to this foot. The weight will shift back to the other foot.
Also called Leap 2-3s or Jump 2-3s. To perform, extend the leg out straight in front with pointed toe. Lift leg and make a slight leap as if jumping over a puddle. Trailing leg will come to the front. The trailing leg then tucks in tightly behind the new lead foot.