You’ve probably seen this type at Irish festivals and in Riverdance. It looks complicated and can be a little tricky at first, but if you keep at it you’ll soon get the hang of it. And then you’re skipping and stepping to jigs and reels, spinning and swirling in patterns with your classmates like a kaleidoscope. There are many schools of Irish dance throughout New York and a Google search should turn up one near you. Though most of their classes are geared towards kids age 4-18, some offer classes for adults.
To see some top-notch Irish step dancing performed by The Academy Irish Dance Company at the Dublin, Ohio, Irish festival, click here. Then give it a try yourself with this instructional video:
Translated to English, the name of this type of dance means “old style”. Compared to step dancing it’s looser, with your arms free to move about and the steps closer to the floor. This is more of a solo dance without the group patterns like step and céilí dance. When the opportunity arose a couple of years ago, Craobh Dugan hosted sean-nós teacher Rebecca McGowan from Boston to teach a live class in Utica. We hope to do that again in the future, but you can learn a few steps now from this video:
Céilí is an Irish word for “gathering or party”. So céilí dancing requires more people, ideally at least eight. The dancers' feet can be doing skips and side-sevens commonly seen in step dancing (which can really get your heart rate up) or simple walking works too. The fun part is learning the patterns and how all the people weave together like threads on a loom. In the video below, you can see a good example of The Seige of Ennis, one of the all-time favorite céilí dances. It looks complicated at first, but it’s easy to learn, especially with the help of Craobh Dugan’s céilí dance group.
Every Friday at 7:00pm the group meets at the Seton Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Genesee Street in Utica with plans to move to the new Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley when it’s finished later this year. You can bring your own partner or find a partner at the class. You don’t need any special shoes. Sneakers or any footwear you feel comfortable walking in will do. The classes are free and open to the public. Just to make sure nothing has come up to cancel class, we do recommend you call Jim O’Rourke (315-336-5966) before heading out.