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Irish dancing: Reel fun, good exercise

Kidsday reporter Kerry Bresnahan has studied Irish dance

Kidsday reporter Kerry Bresnahan has studied Irish dance since she was 5. Credit: Bresnahan family

Jigs, reels, and traditional sets are only some of the many Irish dances. There are many schools to go to if you want to learn Irish dance. I go to a school called Mulvihill-Lynch School of Irish Dance. They have studios in Lake Ronkonkoma, Kings Park, Smithtown, Nesconset and Center Moriches. Irish dancing classes are a lot of fun and it is great exercise.

Irish dancing is for both girls and boys and you do not have to be Irish to dance. You can start taking classes as young as 3, but you can start at any time. I started dancing when I was 5. The dances that you learn when you start are called the reel, the light jig and the slip jig. You dance these with soft shoes called ghillies. When you advance, you will learn the treble jig, the traditional sets and the hornpipe. Hard shoes, similar to a tap shoe, are used for these dances.

Irish dancing is different from other kinds of dancing because you do not use your arms. In Irish dancing, your arms must be at your sides at all times. You make a tight fist with your hands and pull them back behind you. Also, in Irish dancing, you dance high up on your toes with your legs turned out. This takes a lot of practice.

You can Irish dance just for fun, or you can join Irish dancing competitions. A competition is called a feis (pronounced fesh). At a feis, you compete against other dancers in your age and category. There are six levels of competition: beginner, advanced beginner, novice, prizewinner, preliminary champion and open champion. Your teacher will decide when you are ready to advance to the next level of competition.

Irish dancing is a great way to meet new friends. There are many other fun things that we do. My Irish dance school marches in several St. Patrick’s Day parades, and has performed at Citi Field and Bethpage Ballpark. Hope to see you dancing “reel” soon.

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