Irish Step Dancing

8 Dec

During my high school career I was very invested in dance. I spent hours studying and practicing various styles of dance ranging anywhere from ballet to Hawaiian to hip-hop; however, one style that I never took part in was Irish step dancing. Thus said, when I made my decision to study abroad in Ireland my first semester, I knew learning how to Irish step dance was one thing I definitely wanted to do before heading back to the states, not only because it was of personal interest, but because I wanted to further immerse myself in Ireland’s culture as well.

Upon arriving, I was lucky enough to achieve this goal during one of my first few weeks here in Dublin by taking an Irish step dancing class. From the class, I learned that Irish step dancing is a broad term as there are many types of step dances such as the reel, slip jig, hornpipe and jig. These types of step dances are then further categorized by being performed as a group or solo and by the type of shoe worn while dancing, either the hard shoe or soft shoe. Reels, in 2/4 or 4/4 time, and slip jigs, in 9/8 time, are both soft shoe dances because they are considered to be light and graceful. Hornpipes, danced in either 2/4 or 4/4 time, are danced using hard shoes. It was interesting to compare the new style of dance to the styles I had studied at home. For instance, I found the hard shoes to make similar sounds to tap shoes and the soft shoes reminded me of ballet slippers. I really enjoyed learning the new style of dance; trying to replicate the intricate footwork of the instructor while keeping a stiff upper body was challenging and made for a semi-humiliating, yet enjoyable experience.

In addition, the NUin program gave its students the opportunity to see Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre. Riverdance is a traditional Irish step dancing performance that has been around since 1994.  I found the show to be quite entertaining – it was very upbeat and held the audience’s attention for the entire duration of the performance. In addition, being able to see Irish step dancing performed on stage after recently learning about it and practicing myself made my experience come full circle. Learning about Irish step dancing helped me to further immerse myself in the Irish culture by connecting to it on a personal level. 


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