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Irish Dance Showcase

Updated on January 19, 2014

The rich cultural heritage of Irish Dance

For many centuries, Irish culture was systematically suppressed and outlawed.

During that time much was lost and, for those of us scattered in lands distant from Ireland, our music, songs and dance are the portals we use to return and embrace our heritage.

Irish Dance is a rich weave of solo and social dance forms which reflect that heritage. It keeps traditions alive, bonds a community in strange lands and celebrates Irish culture.

I love to see the children dancing, just as I danced those many years ago. The sight swells my heart.

This showcase is dedicated to my friend, Sandra Farrell, and to Mrs Brennan who so patiently taught me to count to seven.

Irish dance lessons in the 1950s

In the 1950s we had Irish dance lessons in the Church Hall on Saturday mornings.

As Mrs Brennan pounded the old piano, I pounded the floorboards trying to get my head around the tempo of a set dance. Instead of the conventional 8-bar structure, set dance tunes generally have a one or two part structure with 8 or 12 bars in the first part and 12, 14, 16, or even more bars in the second.

Every couple of months the parish priest, Father O'Neill, would call in to watch as we jigged and reeled around the hall. On those days we wore our Irish dance costumes. The colours of our outfits were predominantly green, white and saffron, but never red (although I now see red worn by dancers).

Until recently women wore a cape which covered their backs while men used to wear an unpatterned kilt and a jacket with a folded cloak draped from one shoulder. Now, anything goes.

Traditional Irish Dance

This is the style of dance we learned as children. Watching the Boyle O'Dowda Irish Dance Academy brought instant memories of my childhood.

Irish Dancers of the World

A clever little mashup of various Dance Groups.

The music is phenomenal!

Jean Butler

When I think of Irish Dance today I think of Jean Butler.

Jean is the Grande Dame of Irish dancing, her stunning performances have made an international phenomenon out of the formerly niche cultural dance.

At the age of 17, on St. Patrick's Day, she debuted with The Chieftains, a successful relationship which lasted several years, touring extensively throughout America, Canada, Europe and Japan. Jean appeared on their video 'The Chieftains - Live From Belfast,' with Roger Daltry and Nanci Griffith and her taps can also be heard on their album, 'The Long Black Veil' with Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones.

Whilst studying drama at the University of Birmingham, Jean received an invitation from producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan to star in a ten-minute stage production called "Riverdance" and, as they say, the rest is history.

In 1996 after performing for Popes, Presidents, Kings and Queens, Jean left Riverdance to pursue other solo projects. In 1999 she teamed up with Colin Dunne, who had replaced Michael Flatley in "Riverdance", and together launched a show called 'Dancing on Dangerous Ground'. Choreographed with Dunne the show was based on the ancient Irish myth of Diarmuid and Grainnea tale of love, death and vengeance.

Dangerous Ground has an element not usually associated with the world of Irish dance - sex.

Jean Butler with the Chieftans, 1991

A very young Jean Butler dances a traditional hornpipe at the Belfast Opera House.

Avalon Dance School

Irish dance has come a long way since I was a child with dreams of mastering a switch leap.

A short compilation from the Avalon Dance School highlighting the different styles for the modern dancer

Eirerobics! Irish Dance Aerobics - Just what I wanted!

Eirerobics : Irish Dance Based Aerobics
Eirerobics : Irish Dance Based Aerobics

What could be better? Jazzersize with an Irish dance theme set to Irish music.

An enjoyable little workout and you don't even have to be Irish!


All comments are very much appreciated. You don't have to be a Squidoo member to post yours

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    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from Australia

      Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2012! All the best of green Irish luck to you.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

      Thanks for compiling this really nice resource. I absolutely love watching anything like Riverdance.

    • xposedbydesign profile image

      xposedbydesign 6 years ago

      I enjoyed.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      FABULOUS Lens!

    • profile image

      WhitePineLane 6 years ago

      What a fantastic lens, Susanna! You've picked a fabulous assortment of videos, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of them. My daughter is in her seventh year of Irish dance, and I find that I love it more every year, just as she does. I would love to see a picture of you when you were dancing in the 50s if you have one! Thanks for the very entertaining and enjoyable lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      This is lovely! I love watching Irish dance, especially "Riverdance."

    • profile image

      Jenny18 6 years ago

      Nice Lens with the full of information, thanks for sharing with us..........:)

    • profile image

      RecipePublishing 6 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks for an example of a well-done video showcase!

      Congrats on being on the Best of St. Patrick's Day lenses 2011!

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      What caught my eyes first are the costumes! These Irish dance costumes are absolutely beautiful!

    • tlryder profile image

      tlryder 7 years ago

      Congrats on being voted a Squidoo favorite best of St. Patrick's day lens! :)

    • profile image

      miaponzo 7 years ago

      Thanks for this very interesting site!

    • PopStarPeaches profile image

      PopStarPeaches 7 years ago

      I love Irish dancing! I like all the videos

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 8 years ago

      I'm back for a visit. Just returned from a Feis and I thought of your lens. Great selection of Irish Dance videos. Blessed by The HorseAndPony Angel.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Susanna - thanks for this great lens! I love Irish dancing. Some of your readers might also enjoy my St. Paddy's Day lens.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Susanna - thanks for this great lens! I love Irish dancing. Some of your readers might also enjoy my St. Paddy's Day lens.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 8 years ago

      You have really shown how Irish dancing has evolved over the years. Loved the Gillian Norris piece especially. Great collection of videos combined with your personal experience.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I came back here to add a link to this lens to MysticMama's new music blog on sandy beach. I just love it.

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 8 years ago

      My daughter Irish Danced competitively for many years and we are all Jean Butler fans. When competing my daughter had the pleasure of being judged by Jean's instructor Donny Golden. She was so excited I didn't think she would make it through her dance. We have lots of great memories. What a great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      well, they say adapt or die, so I guess I can't complain, but I certainly prefer the old style arms-down dancing and the cute little girls with their hair bouncing to the pole-dancing Gillian Norris. What a fabulous lens! I love love it!

    • profile image

      VanWood 8 years ago

      Hi Susanna,

      Have you already seen this? With your interests of Irish Dance and Greece, you have just gotta

      google Stavros Flatley on youtube. Was on the recent Britains Got Talent. Enjoy!!!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I love Irish folk music and Irish dancing. I have quite a few old Irish folk CDs. Good lens on the subject, great videos.