Irish dance health: Kerry fast!

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My loveJanet + Nora Sneem affair with the Kingdom of Kerry started back one dark, cold winter around New Year Eve in 1989 when I found myself in Sneem, near Kenmare with a group of newish friends I had met in Australia a few years earlier.

They had invited me to join them in a rented house and we had a great time out walking, playing board games and inevitably ended up at the local pub on New Years Eve.

Two important things happened for me that night: a random connection that led directly to my long-term & current friendship with Con Moriarty from the Gap of Dunloe, and I saw my very first Irish set being danced that night in the pub.

Fast friends: Pat Falvey with me on the Skellig Michael 1997

Fast friends: Pat Falvey with me on the Skellig

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6 simple Irish dances for your Christmas party

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Sharing Irish dancing with my friends and non-dancers is something I love to do, AND it needs to be very, very easy.

Here, I am featuring three of the 6 different Irish dance styles with videos and instructions that are linked to each dance name so you can follow along.

  1. Irish set dancing figures
  2. Irish two hand dancing
  3. Irish céilí dancing

If you’re really keen and this is your first time getting people dancing, see my next post How to work with your party crowd who are keen to dance (and have probably had a few drinks)…

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Irish dance: 5 tips for keeping your dancing healthy

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Staying healthy takes more and more of my time, and it seems obvious to try to enhance the benefits of dance by paying attention to a few basics. This is not an exhaustive list: I have already written about some of these tips but ’tis always good to have a reminder.

1. Dance floor – seems an odd kind of thing to put top of the list but flooring is critical to reducing knee, hip and ankle injuries and sore backs, ideally, sprung floor is the best or at least something with some bounce or give in it. You should be able to see the floor moving when someone walks or dances on it. The floor also needs to be very clean- swept first then a very hot, dry-damp squeezed-out mop over the top to get all the grease and dirt off.

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Dance and music: Wake up to a healthy, rosy glow

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Falling into bed at 4am after a brilliant night of music and dancing in Sydney, followed by a long 3 hour drive home, my head barely hits the pillow and I’m asleep. I wish I could say that happened every night, but for me, it doesn’t.

The effects oawake + clockf an over-active brain, the combination of mental exhaustion & not being generally physically tired from sitting, too much screen time & effects of screen light, and now the creeping menopause effects of hot flushes and arthritis, all conspire against good sleep.

The other undesirable element is the potential for weight gain- not helped by a cold winter and the desire for lots of lovely “comfort” food – beautifully braised lamb shanks with lots of potatoes, baked rice pudding, pumpkin scones (with tons of butter, of course) – need I go on?

My typical downward spiral goes something like this:

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Dance shoes: Avoid sore feet!

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Irish dance shoes:  7 tips on how to avoid sore feet, ongoing knee problems, hip problems and a plethora of other ailments that can come with Irish dancing, despite that it should be good for you! I have some suggestions for you that I have worked out over a long period of dancing. I also used to sell shoes and boots for hiking, and there are many similarities with dancing, including getting lots of mileage!

1. Supportive shoes
Supportive shoes are those that have stiffness under the arch of your foot, and that move the right way when you dance. Shoes that offer the best support for your feet are torsionally strong, which means they don’t have much twist.  What you DO want is the shoe to bend forward at the ball of your foot to allow your heel to go up and down. New shoes often take a while to soften in this part of the sole.  So,  if the shoe doesn’t bend and give, your foot still wants to go up and this creates friction and rubbing inside the shoe, creating the potential for blisters. Something’s gotta give! Continue reading