I write mostly about solo dancing in the Diddlyi Blog but Ceili, or team dancing, has been a huge part of my Irish Dance career. Ceili dancing refers to traditional reels and jigs performed in groups of 2, 3, 4 , 8 and 16. My Ceili dancing career has been very rewarding. I have competed at my regional Oireachtas every year since I was eight years old and have had the honor of competing at the World Championships twice. I strongly recommend learning the art of Ceili dancing if you get the chance. While many of the same rules apply to both forms of dancing, like crossed feet and pointed toes, there are some technical things that you should know that apply to just Ceili dancing.
A great Ceili team does everything in unison, from their head to the tips of their toes. This means that everybody skips the same way, raises their hands the same way, crosses their feet the same way and so on and so forth. Ceili dancing is not the time for a single individual to show their style, the whole team should have one style. The best way to improve this is to practice dancing together, preferably in a mirror or with somebody video taping the team.
A very important skill to master in Ceili dancing is spacial awareness. Many of the movements in Ceili dancing create circles, squares, Xs and crosses. It is important to understand where you are and if that place is the right place in order to make the proper shape. This means almost always being next to your partner and maintaining an even distance between other couples in the Ceili.
Neither of the above skills can occur if all members of the team remain silent. It is important to talk during practice to discuss what’] is working and what is not working. In all communication with your team members, remember that respect is of the upmost importance. You win and lose as a team. In addition, you grow as a team and have the opportunity to build lifelong friendships.
Happy Ceili Dancing, everybody!
Photo credit: Ally Giannini
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