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The 5 Stages Of Learning A New Irish Dance Skill


Ally Giannini is an Open Champion dancer for the Lenihan School of Irish Dance as well as a student at Fairfield University. She loves keeping updated on all things Irish Dance. For more from Ally, follow her on twitter @ally_geeniee019.

One of the most exciting parts of Irish Dance is learning new skills to improve steps and move on to a higher level of competition. I love learning new skills because I think that Irish Dance is constantly evolving in a positive direction. The only way to become a better dancer is to challenge yourself with something new. I go through 5 stages every time I learn a new skill and here’s how to achieve success:

1 – See The Demonstration

You step in line for class and your TC announces that you will be learning something new today. You watch your TC or his or her assistant perform the new skill perfectly. Whether it be a new roll of trebles or a fancy new skater spin, you can’t wait to try it out yourself.

2 – Try And Fail Miserably To Replicate The Skill

Ah, the first attempt. You give yourself a little pep talk and try to make your legs move exactly how the demonstrator did. Oops, that did not look right!

3 – Slow It Down

Time to figure out the mechanics of this skill. You break it down bit by bit to teach your body how to successfully perform the new move. If I’m learning something that involves a lift, I like to use two chairs so that I can suspend myself midair and teach my feet and legs where to go.

4 – Fall Over And Over Again

Ok, now it’s time to bring the skill out of slow motion. If I’m trying something especially hard, I know that I’m definitely going to fall or spin out of control many times. If I’m in my hardshoes, I multiply that number by two. The hardest part is the first fall but once that’s done with you’re not afraid anymore and you can keep trying until you get it right.

5 – Success!

You attempt the skill and it actually looks right. You give yourself a pat on the back and a nod of approval from your TC. Now its time to do it 1000 more times to make it absolutely perfect.

Photo credit: Image is courtesy of and belongs to author.

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