"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:

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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 IrishCentral.com. 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

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Irish dancers making local news stories

RinceBits: Irish dancers making [news]papers

These week, I want to amplify Irish dancers’ appearances in community newspapers and on local news stations — and they’re not necessarily being recognized for their dancing!

Great to see so many Irish dancers making the news for dance abilities, and a variety of other skills and honors.

- South Buffalo woman taps heritage to stir Korean flavors into her cuisine, The Buffalo News
I’m proud to say this article is about my pal and teammate Mollie McCabe, a Korean-born Irish dancer who uses cooking as a way to merge her biological roots to her adopted Irish heritage. You may recognize Mollie from her Heartbeat of Home audition video. Not only can she dance, the girl can cook.

- Over the moon: Local woman earns spot at World Irish Dance Championship, The Frederick News-Post
Whitney Hanson, a 27-year-old dancer, didn’t get started in Irish dance until she was about 14 — that’s pretty late in the game, considering many world-qualifiers were learning their first dance steps not long after taking their first walking steps. Still, Whitney earned her spot among the best, and she’ll be competing in the World Irish Dance Championships in London. Whitney, who works in a pharmacy, says she practices “between two and six hours every day she isn’t working.” That’s dedication. Good luck, Whitney!

- Starring role for Larne’s Lord of the Dance, Larne Times
Morgan Comer, 24, is the new Lord of the Dance — well, one of the many talented dancers since Michael Flatley to play the role of the “lord.” Congrats, Morgan! We look forward to hearing more about your first performance as lead male dancer.

- Stepping up for diversity: UI student shares Irish dance, culture as part of homecoming kickoff, Iowa Now
University of Iowa student Meghan Ryan danced at a local diversity festival. As much as her Irish dance backgrounds contributes to her sense of personal culture, it’s her studies in foreign languages that show how truly devoted to diversity the young woman really is. She studied Spanish, French and Arabic in school. Arabic got her interested in the Middle East, and she ended up studying abroad in Morocco this past summer.