On September 17, the SJC Irish Dance Club held a workshop titled “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day.” The workshop encouraged all interested parties to attend with the promise of learning some traditional Irish stepdance moves.
Upon entering the Shea Conference Room, I was greeted by club members and a table full of Irish soda bread. After brief introductions, and a few too many pieces of soda bread, the club members lined up the attendees and instructed us how to do a dance called a ceili (pronounced “kay-lee”). A ceili is, according to club vice president Lindsey Baird, a dance usually performed at weddings and celebrations. Every person was paired off and we were taught the basic steps, which had us moving forward, backward and sideways. For me, with the only Irish stepdance experience I have being from Irish Dance Club’s Ceili Night last spring, the dancing was a bit tricky at first. It requires an incredible amount of light-footedness, which is something that takes some adjustment. The dancing itself wasn’t that difficult once I got into the “hopping” sort of rhythm.
After learning the moves slowly, we had the opportunity to do them along with the music, which, thanks to the great tutelage of the club members, went well. There may have been some wrong footings, but for beginners, everyone did their best. The next dance we learned was a light jig, and it was performed in a circle. It involved jumping and kicking, all the while maintaining light and bouncy footwork.
Spending a common hour learning these Irish dance steps was quite the experience. Though not easy, Irish stepdancing was worth the effort. Everyone at the workshop was smiling as they went through all the steps, even if they couldn’t execute them to perfection. The club members were incredibly welcoming and are always looking for new dancers (no experience is required either). For anyone interested in joining Irish Dance Club, they are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
By Jennifer Joniak