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What Goes Into An Irish Dance Flash Mob?

DiddlyiJulia is a champion dancer with the Teelin School of Irish Dance in Maryland. She recently came back to competing after a seven-year hiatus, and is still working on adjusting to being back in the competitive world of Irish dance. When she isn’t training, she works as a journalist in Washington, D.C. You can connect with her on twitter, where she goes by @RussellJuliaD.

Everyone loves to watch a good flash mob, whether it features Irish dance or something else entirely. Even Diddlyi has posted about their favorite Irish dance flash mobs and shares videos of them on facebook from time to time. I was lucky enough to actually get to participate in one with my Irish dance school last month for breast cancer awareness, and while I’ve spent probably too much time watching videos of them, I never realized how much work actually goes into staging one. Here are some of the things my teacher had to consider when choreographing our flash mob that I didn’t even think about until I was actually in a flash mob:

The venue: Our school’s flash mob took place at Camden Yards, which is the baseball stadium for the Baltimore Orioles. There are lots of different places you could have a flash mob there, but ours was planned for a specific section of seats. Think it sounds hard to Irish dance in between rows of seats at a stadium? You are correct! My teacher had to incorporate small movements that we would actually be able to perform in such a small space. She also had to think about the fact that there were seats covering our actual feet when she was planning out the choreography. She ended up having us do lots of cuts and jumps so the choreography would look good without a view of our feet and included lots of arm movements, which the audience could actually see. My teacher even had to adjust our choreography after our first rehearsal because of the venue. She took a trip out to Camden Yards to try out our dance, realized that the space we had was too small to perform it well and made adjustments at the following rehearsal.

The dancers: Another one of the things my teacher had to consider when choreographing our flash mob was the differing levels of ability of the dancers and the size of the whole group. We had almost 100 people participate in the flash mob, and our ages spanned from young kids to adults while our levels of ability spanned from beginner to champion. Many of the flash mob participants were members of my school’s performance company, so my teacher had them dance in the aisles along our rows of seats to feature some footwork and to mix up the choreography and give the audience some different types of dancing to watch. We also had to make sure we didn’t look like a group of 100 people who had come to the game together, so my teacher worked partners into our choreography and we talked only with our partners before the flash mob actually started.

Timing: No one knew the specific timeline our flash mob would follow. We only knew it was going to happen after the teams’ starting lineups were announced, which the Orioles staff could only give us an estimated time for. So our flash mob organizers had to decide at what time we had to be in our seats before the game and communicate that to all of us. Our organizers were great and kept us well-informed about when we could expect our music to play, which was really important – we only had a few seconds after the music started to take off our jackets, revealing our matching shirts, and get ready to start our dance! We all also had to consider the time delay between our live music and the picture the Camden Yards cameras showed on the stadium’s jumbotron. Our teacher made sure we all knew about the delay and had us promise not to look up at the screen so we wouldn’t mess up during our dance. It was really hard to resist looking, but it was definitely worth it to make sure we pulled off our surprise successfully!

All in all, the flash mob went off without a hitch and it was definitely one of the most fun experiences for me as a dancer. I would do another one in a heartbeat! If you want to see how it turned out, you can watch our video below:

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