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The Universal Language Of Irish Dance

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.

I have been dancing at the same dance school and in the same region for my entire sixteen year Irish dancing career. All this is about to change as I prepare to study abroad in Prague. While this is a huge life change I am comforted by the fact that I will have the opportunity to continue Irish dancing abroad.

It is amazing how Irish Dance is a language that can be communicated without words. Dancers all around the world dance the same steps to the same music. We feel the liveliness of the reel and the grace of the slip jig just by listening to the music. The rhythm of a jig or hornpipe can be understood without seeing or speaking. One can simply close their eyes and listen to the beautiful rhythm of a hard shoe dance.

Irish Dance also gives dancers opportunities to tell stories without speaking. This is true of both solo and team dancing. A great example of this in solo dancing is the contemporary set. Each piece of set music tells a story that is interpreted in different ways by teachers and dancers around the world. The story of the contemporary set is communicated through movements and rhythm that match the rise and fall of the music. An example for team dancing would be the figure choreography where groups of usually sixteen perform an original dance that tells a specific story. There is also the dance drama in which a school combines Irish Dance with costumes, music, props, and set backgrounds to tell a story.

This universal language connects Irish Dancers around the world. With every treble and skip 2, 3 we speak volumes and volumes.
Photo credit: The Irish Dance Festival

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