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Irish Dance Movements & Their Different Names

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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.

Unlike other forms of dance, Irish Dance doesn’t have a current dictionary of all the movements. In different parts of the world dancers and teachers refer to movements by different names making it difficult to keep everything straight. I’ve compiled a short list of some of the most common movements with varying names around the world.

Treble, Batter, Rally

This movement is the foundation of hardshoe dancing. The dancer may start with a hop on the back foot and then brushes out and then back in, making two loud beats. There are many variations depending on the type of hard shoe dance and the rhythm and timing necessary with the movement.

Examples of different types of trebles can be found in Dance Master Shane McAvinchey’s Hard Shoe Bootcamp Workshop!

Jump-overs, Leaps, Overdowns

This is one of the most picturesque and gravity defying movements in Irish dance. The dancer extends one leg straight out in front, at hip leg or higher and uses the other leg to jump up. The jumping leg then tucks in underneath the dancer and kicks out to finish. There are variations of the exact location of the tucked leg. A very popular trend in champion dancing is freezing the look of one leg extended out front with the other foot tucked in behind. This is also referred to as “holding your leaps”.

Check out an example of one here in this video from Dance Master Ciara Sexton.

Front-click, Scissors

This movement can be performed in either hard shoes or soft shoes. It starts when the dancer picks up one leg straight out in front below hip level and then while jumping switches legs and kicks the second leg up to shoulder level. In hard shoes while the dancer switches their legs he or she also clicks his or her heels.

Front Spring, Entrechat, Shivers

This is a very popular spring in soft shoe dancing. I have also seen dancers perform this movement in hard shoes. The dancer jumps up in the air, overcrossing his or her feet, toes pointed down. Then the dancer moves both legs out, and then quickly back in.

Here’s an example also from Ciara.

What are some other movements in Irish dance that you’ve heard different names for?

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


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