Irish dance basics: How going backwards can help you go forward

PLEASE USE NEW LINK FOR THIS ARTICLE at our new site, IrishBliss.org

MOST Irish traditional music is very lively, and it really makes you want to tap, hop, skip and generally jump for joy. I share that feeling but those steps are not always in keeping with the traditional flat style of set dancing, particularly in Clare, Kerry, Galway and surrounding areas.

It’s another contrary fact about Irish set dancing that what makes you want to go up, actually asks you to come down.

The style of Irish set dancing is subtle and I have had great difficulty over the years putting my finger on what it is, what it’s not and how best to explain it simply. I have found it most tricky explaining the style to dancers who already dance many other styles because it can seem counter-intuitive to them.

Some basics for set dancing style & steps:

1. Keep your feet close to the floor – some say “dancing from the ankles down”
2. Take small steps
3. Listen to the rhythm of the music to keep time

Continue reading

Provisional Irish Dancing vs. Real Irish Dancing?

PLEASE USE NEW LINK FOR THIS ARTICLE at our new site, IrishBliss.org

I have been rudely reminded this week that most people consider Irish step dancing to be “real” Irish dancing, and other styles such as sean nós are of a lesser ilk. This came when I was asked the question “Is Edwina Guckian an Irish dancer?

The fact that this question was attached to one of my YouTube films clearly marked “Irish dance sean nós brush dance”  and showed her dancing made me think that the person was joking.

Continue reading

Irish dance: On pointe – is it safe?

PLEASE USE NEW LINK FOR THIS ARTICLE at our new site, IrishBliss.org
Thank-you.

Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com Irish Bliss

WINNER 5

 

 

Grace, rhythm and a little bit of craic – still part of Irish dance?

PLEASE USE NEW LINK FOR THIS ARTICLE at our new site, IrishBliss.org

I love trawling YouTube for Irish dancing of all different styles, and I find myself going back to the older recordings – not that long ago, but not contemporary. They have a grace and class that I don’t see in newer recordings – even in most of my own, I have to confess. RTE, the Irish national broadcaster, did a lot of filming of Irish traditional music, dance and song in the late 60s’ through to the 1980’s and produced some wonderful stuff. Most of the best of these recordings are available in the “Come West Along The Road” series of DVDs.

I understand the need to update, move and change with the times to inject new influences and trends into Irish dance but a lot of what I see seems to be a move backwards from what was. In Irish set dancing, the trend to play faster and faster music means that the nuances of the tunes are lost, and the rhythm and flow of the dance is completely overtaken by tempo-not nice to dance to really.

In Irish step dancing, it’s hard not to laugh out loud (LOL) at some of the get-up- the bouffant hair matched with the bouffant dresses – a real distraction from the dance itself. The amazing athleticism and skill of  the dancers is impressive – it must take a huge amount of time and commitment to be able to pull off some of those moves, and that is a truly admirable quality.

But mostly, I am left cold watching these performances, as the experience seems lacking in joy and spirit, the music is like wallpaper – just background, and not integral to the rhythm and meaning of the dance. Perhaps I am expecting too much?

As I write, I have just seen a nice bit of updated Irish dancing (to Michael Jackson music)  that has much of what I am talking about – rhythm, graceful dance and looks like they are enjoying themselves!

So there is hope. What we  had once we could have back again, and even better, if we tried and took a bit more thought and care with the beautiful Irish tradition.

An áit a bhuil do chroí is ann a thabharfas do chosa thú.

Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.

Nora Stewart EasyIrishDance.com
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EASY IRISH DANCE MAIL  LIST Easy Irish Dance logo

Elvis is alive and… well… Irish dancing!

PLEASE USE NEW LINK FOR THIS ARTICLE at our new site, IrishBliss.org

This is a bit of film I took in Ireland of the pretty-fabulous Brian Cunningham who danced and wowed us for a minute and a half in Tubbercurry, Co.Sligo in July 2012 (thanks to my friend Marian whose camera I commandeered in haste).

The question is – step dancing or sean nós dancing? What say you?

If you’d like to learn to dance freestyle Irish sean nós- check this out….

PS. By strange coincidence, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, ACT, Australia is hosting an exhibition called “Elvis at 21” with gorgeous photos of the young man on the cusp of fame by Alfred Wertheimer. Went to see it today and it’s cracking.

Nora Stewart
EasyIrishDance.com
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EASY IRISH DANCE MAIL  LIST
Easy Irish Dance logo