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Top 10 Irish dance videos of 2014

For generations, traditional Irish dance was passed down generation to generation from teacher to student with some steps written down, but most committed to memory.

Now, thanks to the Internet — special shout-out to YouTube — Irish dance reaches all ends of the earth with a few simple clicks.

With every year that passes, Irish dance makes its mark in a new way on the web. In recent years, flashmobs and dance fusion projects have dominated YouTube results when searching the simple phrase “Irish dance.” This year, search results proved that “Britain’s Got Talent,” “Lord of the Dance” weddings and tapping priests reigned supreme in my annual list of top Irish dance videos.

Without further ado, here’s my* list of 2014’s top Irish dance videos:

10. Kicking off (HA. SO MUCH PUN INTENDED) this year’s list is the multitalented — even that doesn’t do him justice — world-class dancer and 2014 GAA All-Ireland Minor Football Medalist Tomás Ó Sé.

9. For the love of gawd and your own sanity, fast forward to the 8-minute mark.

8. Discover Ireland has made a bit of a name for itself with Irish dance flash mobs. This one, shot in Vienna, Austria, drummed up enough interest to earn a spot on the top-10 list, but it’s a far cry from the original mass Irish dancer sneak attack that claimed the No. 1 spot on my 2011 list.

7. Sadly, Americans couldn’t watch RTE’s “Jigs and Wigs” on TV. Lucky for us, one YouTuber posted the entire series online (WATCH IT HERE). The first episode, “My Big Fat Irish Dance Dress,” which delves into the world of Irish dance among Ireland’s traveller community, falls snuggly at No. 7 on the list with more than 131,000 views.

6. It’s not the last time you’ll see “Britain’s Got Talent” on this list — this is just the beginning. Oliver Moroney gave his all with a traditional broom (or “brush”) dance, but it wasn’t enough to get through to the judges.

5. Hasn’t this “Sesame Street” clip been out for years now? I feel like I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but it’s listed on YouTube as having been posted this past St. Patrick’s Day. For having only been online 10 months, it’s made quite a splash with more than 276,000 views.

4. This “Riverdance” remake was recorded at the 2014 North Texas Irish Festival. The Maguire Academy Irish dancers’ video was viewed on YouTube more than 330,000 times.

3. Irish dance weddings were hot in 2014. As many Irish dancers have come to realize, a wedding is the perfect opportunity to throw on the jig shoes or ghillies to honor the dancing bride and/or groom. I know I’ve personally danced a few jigs and reels at two weddings this past summer. You can only imagine what happens when the dance floor is graced by professional Irish dancers — members of “Lord of the Dance,” speficially.

The video below, featuring all male dancers, has been viewed on YouTube more than 800,000 times:

Not to be outdone by the men above, these lords and ladies of the dance made a splash on Facebook. The video below, posted Aug. 3, 2014, has been shared more than 10,000 times. There’s no way of knowing how many times it’s been viewed, unfortunately, but it earned an honorary spot on this list because it’s utterly amazing:

2. Pope Francis is doing his part to make Catholicism hip, but don’t count out the cool contribution from these two smooth priests with lightning fast moves.

Dancing seminarians David Rider (tap dancer), of New York, and John Gibson (Irish dancer), of Milwaukee, busted moves and battled it out before an audience outside the Vatican.

1. The Innova Irish dancers, without a doubt, owned the internet for Irish dancing in 2014. The “Britain’s Got Talent” beauties charmed the reality talent show judges with fancy feet tapping to a modern beat. With nearly 3 million views, the video below demolished any competition from other Irish dancers.

A second “BGT” video (scroll down a little more) featuring these festival-style dancers was watched more than a million times, technically earning it the No. 3 spot on this list. But, for the sake of fitting in more videos, the Innova dancers will have to settle for just first place.

* Many highly viewed videos are published online without permission or contain material that is duplicated from other accounts. I tried to take into account video views from verified sources. In addition, I included only those videos that feature actual Irish dancing, as opposed to parody dancing or very little dancing at all.

"Documentary series featuring the unusual individuals and the stories which make Irish dancing a vibrant and progressive entertainment phenomenon" - BBC

Watch ‘Jigs & Wigs’ series here

Not sure how long this will last, but Irish dance fans from outside the UK can watch BBC One TV program “Jigs & Wigs” on YouTube — for the time being, that is. I’m hoping the episodes don’t get pulled from the site.

The docu-series is broadcast exclusively in the UK, and even the online access to the episodes it restricted to that geographic region. But one kind soul has posted the series to YouTube, and I’ve embedded those individual episodes below:


Breandán de Gallaí talks Irish dance at TEDxDCU

Breandán de Gallaí’s TEDx talk

Breandán de Gallaí, former principal dancer for Riverdance and creator of Noctu, spoke recently at TEDxDCU (Dublin City University).

TEDx talks occur around the world, offering interesting people with ideas the opportunity to share their thoughts on a particular topic.

De Gallaí, who came from the competitive world of Irish dance and later excelled as a show dancer, discussed traditional Irish dance as he sees it — one that is undoubtedly evolving, a stark contrast to the thought that “traditional” is synonymous with “unchanging.”

In studying various forms of dance, he experienced a moment of “flow,” which is explains is “when you’re absolutely happy. Time doesn’t matter.”

He recalled wanting to recreate that feeling in choreography, but in such a way that he could introduce that sensation to other dancers.

Listen to de Gallaí’s complete talk below:


Got the post-Oireachtas blues

It’s been two weeks since I danced at my regional Oireachtas, and I’m slowly coming out of the post-O blues.

Am I the only one who feels it? All those months of cross-training, eating right, ceili practices and solo sessions in the studio … done. For now, anyway.

For some of us, we’re coming off the high of having performed our best and met personal goals. And then there are those of us disappointed in our efforts on stage or bummed about falling short in placements.

This year, I’m feeling a little of both: I’m elated because my 8-hand team won gold, and we’re heading to nationals in July. And I’m down in the dumps because I let pressure get to me, and I completely lost my head at the start of my trad set. I’d hoped to maintain top-5 status in that dance. Instead, I slipped to 12 (out of 60). Believe me, I was glad to have even placed, but I am embarrassed by my dancing. I’ll never forgive myself for straight-up forgetting how to start the dance I’d been practicing for, well, years.

So, with Oireachtas a few weeks behind me and the new year just two weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to a 2014 full of new goals to keep my spirits high, motivation at a maximum and physical fitness in best possible form:

  1. Memorize all recognized traditional sets. At the start of 2013, I resolved to learn the seven traditional sets recognized by CLRG. So far, I know St. Patrick’s Day, Blackbird, King of the Fairies, Three Sea Captains (2 versions) and the step of Jockey to the Fair. In the next two weeks, I need to learn versions of Garden of Daisies and Job of Journeywork. In the new year, I want to expand on my set dance knowledge, learning as many iterations of the seven trad sets as possible and then learning sets not allowed in competition — in particular, the White Blanket and the Priest and His Boots.
  2. Lose 20 pounds, build muscle. Since August, I’ve lost approximately 20 pounds, but I want to drop at least 20 more to be at my best weight. Health, of course, is most important. I understand that muscle weighs more than fat, and I will try not to beat myself up when the scale doesn’t budge.
  3. Be the best teammate possible for my 8-hand team. We’re heading to nationals, which is a big moment for many of us. I, personally, have never danced at nationals, and neither have many of my teammates. I will continue working on fixing my arms and hands, and I will work on my turnout and crossover. I will be the strongest ceili dancer I know how to be.
  4. I will write more, both for this blog and I work full-time in the journalism industry, and I’m often too tired of the computer screen to head home after work only to prop open my laptop and start typing all over again. Well, that’s going to change. If it means blogging on my lunch breaks, so be it. I want to be writing about Irish dance more.
  5. I want to keep learning about Irish dance and its roots. After attending Blas at University of Limerick in the summer, I’m more committed than ever to learning the history of Irish dance — to learn about the people who shaped the art form that I’ve come to love. As much as I appreciate the modern movements and complicated rhythms, I want to know that I’m honoring those who paved the way for us as traveling dance masters and dedicated teachers.
Yankee Candle fundraiser for Clann Na Cara Irish dancers

Help send my team to Oireachtas!

Hey, dance friends and faithful readers.

In case you didn’t know it, I am an Irish dancer, and I’m heading to the Mid-Atlantic Region Oireachtas with my team(s), but we could really use your help!

Our school is sending two eight-hand teams and four four-hand teams in the adult category. Our teams comprise mainly young professionals and college students — the most broke types of people. Because we’re tight on money and that additional $50 family fee has caused some of us to go on an unintentional starvation diet, we’ve organized a fundraiser to help offset Oireachtas fees.

We’re working with Yankee Candle Co. to sell candles, and our team gets to keep 40% of the sales profits! If we sell enough, we could easily cover the costs of at least the family fees for the 16 adult dancers carpooling to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving weekend.

Orders will be shipped to customers way before the holidays. The deadline to order from our group is Nov. 6. I would greatly appreciate your support.

This link should bring you to our fundraising page. If our group info does not appear automatically, just enter these details in the appropriate fields:

Group number: 990057989
Seller ID: sarah75