Irish dancing steps into the mainstream in Maryland

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Catch an Irish dance performance around Annapolis


Want to see what Irish dance is all about? March and April are filled with local Irish dance performances, including:

March 9 – Annapolis St. Patrick's Day parade, Hunt School of Irish Dance, the Maple Academy of Irish Dance and O'Grady Quinlan Academy Southern Maryland perform.

March 9 – Brian Boru Restaurant and Pub in Severna Park, Teelin School of Irish Dance performs at 2:30 p.m.

March 12 – Brian Boru Restaurant and Pub in Severna Park, O'Grady Quinlan Academy Southern Maryland performs at 7 p.m.

March 15 – Eastport Green Beer Races in Annapolis, Teelin School of Irish Dance performs at 2:30 and 4 p.m.

March 23 – ArtFest at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, Maple Academy of Irish Dance performs. Time TBA.

March 29 – Hunt School of Irish Dance show, South River High School in Edgewater, performance at 3 p.m.

April 5 – Teelin School of Irish Dance Spring Show, Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia, performances at 1 and 5 p.m.

April 26 – Southern Maryland Celtic Festival in St. Leonard, Hunt School of Irish Dance performs 12:15 p.m.; Teelin School of Irish Dance performs at 2 p.m.

Please confirm performance times before attending.

 

Irish Dance schools in Annpolis/Columbia area

Check out one of the following schools or dance programs.

  • The Kevin Broesler School of Irish Dance – Classes held at Chesapeake Center for Creative Arts, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, 21225. Info: www.broesler.com or 410-636-6597.
  • Hunt School of Irish Dance – Classes held at Crofton Yoga, 2431 Crofton Lane, Suite 11, Crofton, 21114. Info: www.huntschool.org or 410-212-7955.
  • O'Grady Quinlan Academy Southern Maryland – Classes held at Galesville Memorial Hall, 952 Main Street, Galesville, 20765. Info: www.sites.google.com/site/ogradyquinlansouth or joanie.ogq@gmail.com.
  • The Maple Academy of Irish Dance – Classes held at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase Street, Annapolis, 21401. Info: www.mapleirishdance.com or 410-263-5544.
  • Teelin School of Irish Dance – 9221 Rumsey Road, Columbia, 21045. Info: www.teelin.com or 443-629-7808.

 


What is Irish Dancing?


Irish dancing originated centuries ago as the traditional dance form of Ireland. Since then, it has spread across the world.

Focused mostly on fast-paced, rhythmic footwork, the modern form of Irish dance is performed either individually, also known as Irish step dancing, or by team, also known as céilí or set dancing, according to an Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, the Irish dancing commission. It is accompanied by traditional Irish music played on instruments ranging from the flute and fiddle to the piano and accordion.

"Irish dancing is the juxtaposition of power and grace," says Mark Howard, founder and artistic director of the world-renowned Trinity Irish Dancers in Chicago. "The same person will be defying gravity and sailing through the air and then shortly after delivering this rapid fire, machine gun rhythms."

During Irish dance, a dancer's upper body and arms are mostly rigid.

Competition costumes have evolved in the past few decades to include colorful dresses, costing as much as $2,500. Boys typically wear a shirt, vest and tie with black pants.

Many girls also wear wigs with ringlet curls when competing.

Dancers perform and compete in both soft shoes, black lace-up shoes similar to ballet slippers, and hard shoes, similar to tap shoes except the tips and heels are made of fiberglass.

"Hard shoes are more about rhythm," says local dancer Gaby Stratmann. "With soft shoes, there's a lot of lift, kicking."


Irish Dance Glossary

 

  • Ceili – A gathering for music and dance. Ceili dances were derived from group set dances and French quadrilles but were set to Irish music.
  • Feis – Pronounced "fesh," a festival that includes group and solo step dancing, crafts, instrumental, vocal and Gaelic language competitions.
  • Ghillies – The standard soft shoe worn by female dancers.
  • Hard shoe – Black leather shoes with fiberglass heels and taps on the toes.
  • Oireachtas – Pronounced "oh-ROCK-tus," a type of super feis. In North America, they are organized by regions.
  • Set dance – Group dancing that has somewhat standard dances, danced with shuffling steps and lots of spins.
  • Solo dancing/step dancing – Style of Irish dancing focusing on individual dancer, concentrating on tricky footwork and other virtuoso choreography.

Source: Burke School of Irish Dance

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