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Irish - Beginners
A Guide To Irish Dance! (karma: 20)
By SammyAnnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3547, member since Sun Aug 08, 2004
On Wed Nov 23, 2005 08:16 AM
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2005-11-23 21:19:00 Second Place In "Write The Irish Sticky" contest, 11/23/05

Welcome to the world of Irish dance!



Irish dance can be best described as a competitive art form, open to any body type, age, or gender. Irish dance is a unique blend of tradition and modern flair. To become a great Irish dancer you need perseverance, strength, and passion. However, you do not need to be Irish!

Today, Irish dancing is all over the world. Ireland, Great Britain, U.S, Australia, and Canada all have large Irish dance communities. Irish dance is even popping up in other areas of Europe such as Germany and even in parts of Asia! The beautiful dance is spreading fast across the globe!


How do I know if I can Irish dance?

If you can move your feet and legs, you can dance! Irish dance welcomes all people, no matter what your size, shape, or age is! Some Irish dancers are thin, wiry, and tall, and others are short and muscular. Some weigh more than others, some are 3 years old and some are 50! Irish dance is something that can be enjoyed by everybody!

Ok, so how do I sign up?

Just go to google.com and look up schools in your area! Or better yet, go post on Dance.net to find a good school! Some things you might want to consider before choosing a school are:

-Do you want a competitive or non-competitive school? Competitions are fun, but some people just don’t do that, which is fine. You can enjoy Irish dance without competing! Look to see if a teacher has a TCRG, which is the certification for an Irish dance teacher. Only can schools with a TCRG compete. If so, you can compete with that school. I suggest you call the school you are looking at and see if competitions are mandatory. For example, in my school it is not mandatory to compete, however the teacher is a TCRG. It could never hurt to ask!

-Are you willing to drive long distances to get to class? Sometimes, there aren’t many choices. I drive 45 minutes to get to class, but others drive 2 hours or more. If you aren’t willing to do this, then try to find a school closer, or try to set up something with the teacher, like only going to class once or twice a month for a couple of hours.

-Do you have a lot of other commitments? If you have to miss class a lot, you might want to find a dance school with a better schedule. Ask the teacher what their schedule is before signing up. Also, some schools do a lot of performances. If you aren’t willing to do performances a lot, you might want to find a school that only does a couple of performances.

After you find the school perfect for you, you are all set to start learning!

What is the dress code and what should I wear to the first class?

Some teachers don’t want you to buy the specialized Irish dance shoes until after you start. They will specify what kind of shoe they want you to wear. Your teacher will probably tell you what you need to wear to the class. Most dancers wear shorts and a t-shirt to class.

What are the different dances and how do you do them?

There are 4 basic softshoe dances and 2 different hardshoe dances.

Softshoes:

Softshoes look like this:

Image hotlink - 'http://www.mooresdance.com/images/softghillie.jpg'

They are like ballet slippers because of the soft leather, and you aren’t supposed to go up on pointe in them. However, they have a lacing system that may confuse you at first, so ask your teacher to show you how to put them on! Remember to ask your teacher before buying a pair.

Guys wear soft shoes like jazz shoes, only they have heels.

Image hotlink - 'http://www.corrsirishshoes.com/images/splitsolejazz_small.jpg'

The soft shoe dances are the reel, light jig, single jig, and slip jig. Reel and slip jig are what we call “core dances” which means that they are the ones you will focus on when you get into the higher levels.

Hardshoes look like this:

Image hotlink - 'http://www.claddagh.i8.com/websaved/1hardshoes.jpg'

Hardshoes have fiberglass heels and tips, and are made to get a lot of sound. You can also go on pointe in these, but only if you are 12 or older!

Hardshoe dancers are treble jig and hornpipe, plus the traditional and non-traditional sets. Treble jig and hornpipe are both core dances.

Traditional sets are all alike. Everybody does the exact same steps. Non-traditional sets are when you pick out certain music, like “Blue-eyed Rascal” and your teacher makes up steps for it.

Every school has different steps for each of the dances except for traditional set.

So I know the dances, can I compete now?

If your teacher says you can compete, then all you have to do is go sign up! Ask your teacher for the websites of competitions around you.

Irish competitions are called “feis” pronounced “fesh”.

There are different levels for competitions. In North America, the levels are:

Beginner 1-for those who have been dancing for less than a year
Beginner 2 or advanced beginner-for those who have been dancing for more than a year or have gotten a 1st 2nd or 3rd in one particular dance in Beginner 1 (i.e. if you get 3rd in reel in Beginner 1 you can compete in reel in Beginner 2 but not any other dance)
Novice- for those who have gotten 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in one particular dance in beginner 2
Open Prizewinner-for those who have gotten 1st in one particular dance in novice
Preliminary Championships-for those who have gotten 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in all open prizewinner dances
Open Championships-for those who have gotten 2 1st places in Preliminary championships.

In Australia:

Novice - this is for dancers who have never competed a dance at a feis before. So you can do say novice jig once only and from then on your are in beginner. Not all Feis offer this level.

Beginner

Primary

Elementary - not all feis offer this level, depends on numbers.

Intermediate

Open
I’m not sure on how you qualify for those levels.

In Britain/Ireland


Novice/Beginner (Bun Grad)
Primary (Tus Grad)
Intermediate (Mean Grad)
Open (Ard Grad)
And the occasional Prelim championship - not compulsory (Priomh)

To move from Novice to Primary (Bun to Tus) one must place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a competition of five or more. One only moves up the dance in which one placed 1st-3rd. Generally dancers move up right away, ie the next feis. There's no waiting around for a whole year.

To move from Primary to Intermediate (Tus to Mean), one must place first in a competition of 5 or more. To move from Intermediate to Open (Mean to Ard) one must place first in a competition of 5 or more. Again, you only move up the dance you won. It's feasible that a dancer could be beginner for one dance and open for another.

Prelim champs are a new thing over here. Not all feiseanna offer them and not all dancer bother with them. They're open to all dancers who:
a) Haven't won a Prelim in the past 2 years or the current year
b) Haven't placed 1st-3rd in an Open champ in the same time frame (Excepting regional Oireachtas)
c) Haven't won a World Medal in the same time frame.

What is the Oireachtas?

The Oireachtas (or the qualifiers) are to qualify for the World Championships in Ireland. It is a great accomplishment to be at the level for Oireachtas.

Your teacher will tell you if you are ready for Oireachtas.

You will dance either Reel/Hornpipe or Slip jig/treble jig depending on your age. Boys will dance reel every year and alternate between hornpipe and treble jig. Then, if you recall you get to do a Non-traditional set.

What do I wear to compete?

When you first compete, you wear a beginner costume or a school dress. School/team dresses are dresses that everybody has in your school. Each school has different team dresses and they are generally less expensive than solo dresses.

Image hotlink - 'http://www.uwm.edu/People/jlnodell/inisacladress.jpg'

School dresses are either applique or embroidery and have celtic designs. You can wear school dresses for as long as you like, but most seem to stop wearing them (in the United States) once you get your first dance in open prizewinner.

Solo dresses are all unique. You can buy them used or you can get them custom made. Solo dresses don’t have to be celtic inspired. They do get more sparkly and intricate as you advance.

Image hotlink - 'http://tinypic.com/fxciys.jpg'

You also wear curly hair. You can either curl it with soft spikes…

Image hotlink - 'http://www.epinions.com/images/opti/87/ab/Soft_Spikes_Curlers-resized200.jpg'

or you can buy a wig and be saved the trouble…

Image hotlink - 'http://www.irishdanceshop.f9.co.uk/images/wigpage2.jpg'


Irish dancers also wear poodle socks to compete.

Image hotlink - 'http://www.emeraldkeyonline.com/catalog/socks%20photo.jpg'

Guys wear black trousers and a shirt/vest, in any color.



Irish dance is a wonderful way to be in shape, make friends, and have fun. You may find that you are very passionate about Irish dancing. Keep visiting Dance.net to find out more about this amazing art form.

53 Replies to A Guide To Irish Dance!

re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By feismum Comments: 1300, member since Wed Jul 13, 2005
On Wed Nov 23, 2005 09:19 AM
This is a great post. I wish this was around when my DD wanted to start. thanks
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By pharmadancermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3459, member since Tue Mar 16, 2004
On Wed Nov 23, 2005 09:50 AM
Feis is pronounced "fesh"?!

I always pronounced it "fice" (like ice with an "f")...

All of my impressions of ID are crumbling around me!!

;)
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By summerlovin Comments: 151, member since Fri Jun 17, 2005
On Sun Jan 01, 2006 02:00 AM
this was great
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By electricdancer Comments: 717, member since Sat Dec 24, 2005
On Sun Jan 01, 2006 04:28 AM
You wrote that? o0o0o0o great post!

In regard to the 'fesh' thing, I'll never pronounce it wrong again because I was pronouncing it 'fay-sh' and my Irish teacher made me say it correctly 20 times in front of the class!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By NewFoundGracemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1274, member since Sun Sep 04, 2005
On Mon Jan 02, 2006 06:08 PM
Wow. I'm not an Irish dancer, and I didn't know anything about it before. That was REALLY informative and easy to understand.
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By emilytheprincess Comments: 1208, member since Thu Jan 12, 2006
On Thu Jan 12, 2006 03:05 PM
this is a great post! i am not yet an irish dancer (soon though!) and i have been doing as much research as possible. seeing this post was really great! you have so much information and it was all very helpful. especially the explinations about the different levels.
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By seanmharcailinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1978, member since Fri Dec 10, 2004
On Thu Jan 19, 2006 11:41 PM
aw so cute! good post Sammy Ann. One thing to add...

Guys may pretty much wear whatever they want. Most wear Pants, but they don't have to be black. 10 years ago all the guys wore Kilts! It wasn't until Riverdance premiers that guys thoght "gee- pants are better than kilts any day!" and they (sadly) abandoned the kilts.

Also, there are several different organisations, although CLRG is the largest. Gaining popularity is CRN, and there are several others. So, if you are looking for more opportunity to compete then definately go with CLRG and the teachers cetified under them. TCRG and ADCRGs. A teacher certified under CRN will be good too, so when you are looking for teachers, just make sure they are certfied under somebody. You don't want a girl who did ID for 2 years and watched a bunch of videos teaching you if you think you'll love it.
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By YoungDancer4God Comments: 7, member since Tue Jan 17, 2006
On Sun Feb 12, 2006 07:37 PM
This was a great guide for Irish dancing. I encourage new dancers to try either ballet or Irish first because they both work with balance. While ballet does plies and leaps, however, Irish balance is simply because the entire dance is done on the toes. It's a great dance genre!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By Searlait Comments: 327, member since Sun Feb 12, 2006
On Thu Feb 16, 2006 01:46 PM
great post sammy, you really know your stuff. Once you Irish dance, you are hooked, whether you compete or not!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By Searlait Comments: 327, member since Sun Feb 12, 2006
On Thu Feb 16, 2006 01:47 PM
great post sammy, you really know your stuff. Once you Irish dance, you are hooked, whether you compete or not!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By ghillie_girl16member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 310, member since Sun Jan 08, 2006
On Fri Feb 17, 2006 07:47 PM
WOW! This really helped me to understand all of the levels in Irish Dance! I just didn't remember all of them and whas about to look it up, but then you saved me the trouble by this post! Props to ya!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By ID_Freak Comments: 135, member since Sat Mar 11, 2006
On Sat Mar 11, 2006 10:23 AM
how do you get from preliminary to open championship?
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sat Mar 11, 2006 10:39 AM
In the US and Canada, you hve to place first on two occasions in a prelim championships. In England, Prelim champs are still new so you don't HAVE to compete in prelim, so you can switch between the two at will. However, if you win a prelim, place 1st-3rd in an open champ, or gain a world medal, then you can't compete in a prelim for two years.

Louise
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By mygirlsdancePremium member Comments: 199, member since Sun Apr 02, 2006
On Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:29 PM
Thank you for this informtion in simpler terms. It shed some light on some of the questions that I had. My daughter is in her first year of Irish dance and I wondered how I was to go about entering her in competions.
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By kittykat87 Comments: 474, member since Mon Apr 24, 2006
On Tue Apr 25, 2006 07:02 AM
That was REALLY informative and easy to understand. It really helped me undterstand all the aspects of Irish dance.
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By DancinDiva92 Comments: 64, member since Fri Apr 28, 2006
On Mon May 01, 2006 08:57 AM
WOW!!I'm not an irish dancer yet but i am soon :) I've been lookingfor as much information as i can.This post is great it's really helpful and you have so much information.Thanks! :)
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By DaNc3R0f2M0Rr0w Comments: 332, member since Fri Jun 16, 2006
On Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:03 PM
Wow....How cool was that post? I've been irish dancing for nearly 6 years, so all of that information given was pretty much 2nd nature. I just wish i had known all that info when i first started to dance!!!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By danceluvver101 Comments: 55, member since Wed Jul 20, 2005
On Mon Jul 31, 2006 07:32 PM
This was a great post! I am soon taking an Irish dance workshop and I wasn't sure if I 'd be good at it even though I am Irish! Lol! I 've watched "Lord of the Dance" and "Riverdance" so many times I thought I would be "okay" but now that I read your post, I know I can do better than just "okay"! Thanks!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By CuteandIrish Comments: 48, member since Mon Jul 24, 2006
On Tue Aug 01, 2006 03:41 AM
wow! great post!!
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By claimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 481, member since Tue Sep 02, 2003
On Tue Aug 01, 2006 09:11 AM
Maybe I didn't read it all, but could someone clarify comps for me.

"move from Intermediate to Open (Mean to Ard) one must place first in a competition of 5 or more. Again, you only move up the dance you won."
Does that mean you can be in beginners in one dance and in open for another?
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Tue Aug 01, 2006 09:45 AM
^ Yes. It's incredibly rare, but theoretically it could happen. <I>Usually</i> dancers have their dances spread across two levels in the UK, maybe three in the US as there are more levels.

Louise
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By emmadee Comments: 13, member since Tue Jul 12, 2005
On Sun Sep 10, 2006 06:19 AM
hiya i'm new on here.. i've never ever done irish dance before.. i havent even thought about it.. but i am doing an irish dance solo for my national solo! it used to be a spanish waltz but i got a new one!
hi
By danca1991 Comments: 71, member since Fri Jan 27, 2006
On Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:50 PM
wow im starting irish dancing This thursday i carnt wait me and my friends are starting it up if always wanted to do it. i went for a couple of weeks when i was like 3 but obviously i carn't remember what we did in the class . but that forum was real good im not sure waether ill be able to compete as i do other dance aswel ill probably see if i enjoy it more than my dance at t he moment then maybe quit there and compete i don't know lol. but anyway its realy expensive isn't it ? xxx thank you. btw i think im to late to start aswel as im 14 .
re: A Guide To Irish Dance!
By irish_4_life Comments: 1094, member since Tue Jul 11, 2006
On Tue Oct 03, 2006 01:33 PM
Solo dresses are all unique


That's what I thought too. Till I showed up to my comp and there was a girl in the exact same dress as me. Turned out mr dress maker liked that style a lot. So much infact she made 3 of the same dress...... :(
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