As an art form and a sport, Irish dance offers something for everyone: an opportunity to be creative, physical exercise, individual and team activities, and opportunities to compete locally, nationally and internationally (if desired). Using both hard shoes (similar to tap shoes, but with fibre glass tips) and soft shoes (similar to Highland dance shoes or ballet slippers), Irish dance can be percussive and powerful, athletic and elegant.
Popularized by such shows as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, Irish dance was originally a social form of group dancing performed at weddings, fairs and holidays. It is rooted in the dances taught by traveling dance masters throughout Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries. Famously, Irish dancers move only their legs, keeping their arms tightly by their sides – a tradition rumoured to have begun as a way for dancers to perform in crowded pubs without the risk of knocking over pints. Learn more about the early history of Irish Dance.
Today, Irish dance is taught and performed all over the world. Schools can be found across North & South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. In addition to learning a unique cultural art form and highly effective method of fitness, students also learn critical life skills including goal setting, team work, listening, giving and receiving feedback, sportsmanship and confidence.
Our governing body of Irish dance, CLRG, allows dancers to participate recreationally or competitively. Students interested in a competitive track have the opportunity to compete at local competitions (feiseanna), national feiseanna, such as the North American Championships, and international feiseanna including the World Championships. Visit CLRG to learn more.