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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Irish dance: "... the merry love the fiddle..."

"...And the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance..."
~ W.B. Yeats
One of the aspects of Irish culture that has become a large part of the life of my family is Irish dance. Several dancers in my family practice the ancient Celtic art as it has evolved into its modern day form. Others in the family are regular attendees at practices, performances and competitions.

You may have been introduced to modern Irish dance through the likes of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Michael Flatley and friends. You may have had a brief introduction to ghillies, hard shoes, the reel, treble jig, hornpipe, etc. Perhaps you know a little more about Irish dance and have attended regular performances every St. Patrick's Day or even heard of a feis (a local Irish dance competition, pronounced "fesh"). If Irish dance is a part of your life, too, you may be aware that this is the season for the exciting regional competitions in many areas, otherwise known as the Oireachtas (pronounced "oh-rock-tis").
If you're like some of us, you know that once you've been bitten by the Irish dance bug it is hard to turn back. It is a beautiful art and a challenging sport at the same time. It is an activity for all ages, both boys and girls and men and women. It involves intricately decorated dresses, lively music and both solo and group performances.

Want to see some Irish dance performances live in your local area? Here in North America, check out the website for IDTANA (Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America). Through their site you can find links to member schools and also links to Irish dance organizations throughout the world. Chances are, there are regular performances put on by various dance schools in your local area or in a city near you. Particularly during the month of March (St. Patrick's month, as we sometimes refer to it because it is so busy for Irish dancers), you almost can't help but run into Irish dancers dressed in their finery and dancing figures (group dances).

With my own young dancers busy with their Irish dance activities, I couldn't help but notice the need for a combination journal, competition record book, and performance log for student dancers. I couldn't find one, so I designed and now sell my own. The book, Feiseanna, Figures & Friends, includes pages for dancers to record their competition results, St. Patrick's Day performances, other special shows, fun memories of Irish dancing, autographs from their friends, and more. Here's a little promo for the book. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, visit my online store.

"Feiseanna, Figures & Friends: My Irish Dance Record Book" by Smallest Leaf Press
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Musical accompaniment is Natalie MacMaster's Catharsis from her album No Boundaries.

All images © 2008 Smallest Leaf Press.

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