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 Post subject: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 7:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 139
Location: USA
Hello, I'm 24 and I live in Ohio, not far from Cleveland, I will be taking ballet classes there this summer and i'm also interested in starting Irish Step, if anyone knows of any studios or classes of irish step for adults or even if it's with older teenagers that will permit adult students in the cleveland area, Please do email me at missjan@danceart.net <P>Sincerly,<BR>Jan<P>------------------<BR>Teaching Today Touches Tomorrow!<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2001 2:29 pm 
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I'm an Irish step teacher. If you email me, (jmaca50@hotmail.com), I can give you a list of teachers in your area whom you can then contact to see if they hold classes that would suit you.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2001 9:20 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
JM, is there a huge and tight network in the Irish dance community?


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2001 3:25 pm 
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Location: US
If you ever get to the chance to study in Cincinnati (about 4 or 5 hours away from Cleveland), try the McGing Irish dancers, they have a wonderful studio there. A good friend of mine trained there for the Nationals in Ireland and was a finalist in Ireland finishing..second or third I think. I also took beginning classes there. They have excellent programs in the summer too if you have the opportunity to make it to Cincinnati otherwise if you want a really great summer proram try the Trinity Irish dancers in Chicago..nobody beats them in the US! well not usually! Image Good Luck to you!<P>------------------<BR><BR>"If it's self expression you are looking for the place for you is the analyst's couch" - Merce Cunningham


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 4:09 pm 
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I agree - Trinity is top notch. For the same quality in NY, although not as big a school, try Donnie Golden (Jean Butler trained under him). <P>The Irish dance world IS often tight-knit, and not just in the States. Many instructors have close relations (literally and figuratively) with Irish dance teacher in Ireland. It's a very different kind of dance training environment in so many respects from every other type. In order to maintain its purity, Irish dance is overseen by an international Irish dance commission. In order to teach competing students, a teacher must be certified (it's called having your TCRG) by the Commission (An Coimisiun). Many Irish dance students compete in these events, one of which is called a "feis", pronounced "fesh". Irish dance schools and Irish civic organizations sponsor these competitions. Our school holds one annually (I begin having nightmares a full 3 months in advance!) They're considered qualifying events for the national and world competitions. As such, there are very strict rules governing them. There are regional Irish dance teacher organizations, all of which function under the direction of the An Coimisiun. There are laws governing the transfer of a student from one studio to another (ex. -can't compete till student has completed 6 months at new studio. Meant to allow student to learn new studio choreography, rather than dancing using former teacher's choreo.) There are regular regional meetings of TCRG teachers. Each region also sponsors its own very large feis, called the Oireachtas, annually. All of this originated way back when as a means to ensure that Irish dance wouldn't lose its culture since the Irish came so precariously close to losing other aspects, such as their language, of their culture under British repression. <P>Because of Riverdance, "Lord", etc., Irish dance schools are a booming business. And frankly, we're still trying to figure out how to handle it. There are issues coming up now that no one ever anticipated. Like, how do you handle the fact that local ballet, tap, jazz sorts of studios are now, with the help of a video, teaching Irish? In most cases, they know nothing about An Coimisiun, and probably couldn't care less. There've been sad incidents where a student studying at one of those studios, decides to attend a feis, only to get turned away when it's discovered that the teacher doesn't have his/her TCRG. No one ever anticipated that Irish dance would become simply another style of dance a child might explore, instead of, or in addition to, tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet. No one knows how to accomodate Irish-dance-gone-mainstream. It's great that it's doing so, but it'll sure shake up the "old world" style of doing business. Formerly, the only kids who danced Irish did so because their parents wanted them to taste a piece of their heritage. Now, though, Irish dance is embraced by kids of all backgrounds. I don't think many of these parents will care very much about the protocol that's in place. And that'll probably create much discussion and soul-searching within An Coimisiun. It'll be interesting to see how they answer the challenges of success.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 4:20 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Could it be possible that there are more Irish dancers in the US than there are people on the Irish isle? Just like there are more Muslims (unofficially) in China than there are Arabs in the world.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited March 29, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 4:45 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
JM - there is a very popular school of Irish dancing here in San Diego but I don't know if they are accredited or not. Within that studio also is taught ballet and modern dance. But the Irish section of the school apparently is well known all over the city.<P>I would be interested in some of the dance principles employed - for instance, when landing a jump (even a very small jump) do the heels have to have contact with the floor as in ballet? Are feet always pointed when off the floor? Are turns spotted? What is the use of turnout? Things like that would be very interesting to know.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2001 3:30 pm 
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Ah, very good questions. Traditionally, no, step dancers don't put their heels on the floor coming off a jump. Nor do they usually plie even the least bit. There aren't really turns in competition step dance - what few turns you see in the commercial shows aren't done in competition. Turnout - nonexistent, except from the ankles. Sometimes feet are flexed, sometimes pointed during jumps - that's most definitely a choreographic decision. <P>OK, that's traditionally speaking. But, Irish dance is undergoing a bit of a revolution these days. Previously no dancer worked terribly hard at it, (as compared to ballet dancers) there were no pro career opportunities. There was only the rare injury. Dancers a couple decades ago might have thought they worked hard for a competition but their steps weren't anywhere near as complex as nowadays. And no, we don't have Michael Flatley to thank for that. He only showcased what already existed within the competition (feis) circuit in the previous decade before his big splash. <P>So now there are step dancers with careers. There are many step dancers with injuries rarely seen in the field before. Irish dance is just beginning to address these issues. For instance, my daughter, who's ballet trained, also competed in Irish till she was 12. She'd have points deducted because she plied slightly when landing. She'd also receive negative comments about her knees because, as a result of her hip turnout from ballet, her knees didn't face forward. Interestingly, she competed on a lark this fall for the first time in 4 years. Nothing was deducted for what's clearly the result of her ballet training. Her choreography did include a couple turns - she spotted. The judges loved it. They also raved about her extensions, her nicely arched feet, her "lift". <P>Last summer, while in Ireland, our good friend, an Irish dance teacher and Commissioner, asked her many questions about ballet, dance injuries, etc. He said he's been spending time observing ballet dancers and talking with a ballet teacher friend. He sees that there's much to be learned from ballet. <P>My husband & I are grateful for our daughter's Vaganova training because we've changed much about our program as the result of it. We now have a physical therapist who's associated with the ballet school come do seminars with our dancers. He has looked over our program and given us much advice. For instance, we insist on proper stretches, warmups and exercises to prevent Achilles tendonitis, a very common injury in champion Irish dancers. <P>There are now even some changes afoot (can't resist a good pun) in step dance shoes. Craig Coussins, a former Gamba pointe shoe maker and, I believe, highland dancer, (his mom was a famous highland teacher) has now turned his expertise towards making Irish ghillies. Previously ghillies had no support whatsoever. Some dancers crisscrossed them under their arch to give them better looking arches. The way ghillies are tied traditionally could cause Achilles tendon damage. The Hullachan Pros have eliminated the need for that kind of tying, they offer lots of comfort and padding, etc. Irish dance hard shoes are also now being made with a platform because some Irish dancers go up ever so briefly en pointe (hotly contended among some Irish dance adjudicators - "Is it ballet or is it Irish dance?"). <P>I think the next few years will be very interesting in our little world as Irish dance teachers grapple with the issues of dance injury prevention and kinesiology. It's been a long time coming.<p>[This message has been edited by JM (edited April 01, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2001 5:11 pm 
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It is my impression that Irish Step Dance and ballet are incompatible because of the different ways they jump. Step dance would ruin a ballet dancer. Shame really. Because I'd like to try Irish Step Dance.<P>Anyone know of a good Irish Step teacher in the northern/western suburbs of Philadelphia?<P> <p>[This message has been edited by pan (edited April 23, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 5:30 pm 
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Pan, it isn't true that Irish will ruin a ballet dancer. Most certainly not. My own child is a 15 year old ballet dancer at a pre-pro school she's attended for 11 years. She's attended some fine summer ballet intensives also (SAB, Harid) so she obviously has the technique. Meanwhile she's trained in Irish dance for most of her life, beginning at the age of three when she used to run in and out of my husband's legs as he danced. She competed for many years, mostly recently in championships. <P>Last summer in Ireland she took private lessons with a premier step dance teacher who said her ballet has given her a wonderful range in Irish. He ought to know better than anyone, since he's trained over 70 world champions.<P>She's done all this relatively injury-free. She's never had any of the Achilles tendon problems that many ballet dancers and Irish dancers suffer. Early on, at the ages of 7 and 8, she had trouble NOT plieing coming out of an Irish jump and the judges would deduct points. But she eventually made the adjustment herself and now can move from one style to the other with ease. <P>I think the problem occurs when people don't adjust their stretching regimen once they include Irish. Or perhaps their ballet school doesn't do many exercises with a flexed foot so already their Achilles tendons are shortened. In that scenario, add the demi-pointe work of Irish dance and the possibility exists for some injuries. Our school requires proper stretching regularly. <P>The greater problem is that no one can do both at the highest levels. There simply isn't enough time in the day. My daughter made the choice, at the age of 12, to focus entirely on ballet. At that point Irish dance would require two hours a day practice were she to continue. She stopped training and competing regularly in Irish but continues to this day performing in our school's shows.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 5:33 pm 
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Pan, email me for teachers names and phone numbers. I don't think it's proper to post them without their permission. I have the registry of certified Irish dance teachers listing everyone in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 5:51 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
JM - I have read your posts with great interest, both as a ballet teacher and as one who enjoys Irish Step dancing.<P>I was wondering, if the Irish Step dancer doesn't plié, coming down - does this lead to knee problems? That's what ballet dancers are told. Where is the energy absorbed from the jump (even a small jump)if not the plié?<P>Also if the turnout is only in the ankles - does that lead to knee problems, because of the torque that would occur - hips straight/ankles turned out.<P>Or am I misunderstanding what you have said?<P>I have never had the opportunity to discuss this with anyone with this kind of knowledge before.....so it is indeed intriguing.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2001 7:08 pm 
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No, Basheva, you're not misunderstanding. I have many questions myself. It's been very interesting to have been in the Irish dance business for many years prior to my daughter's ballet involvement. We've learned much from the ballet world and I think that, because of this, we now have a different outlook on Irish dance. <P>My gut feeling is that Irish dancers hadn't as a rule endured the kinds of injuries that are rampant in the ballet world simply because they didn't, until recently, dance the same # of hours. Not true now, of course. Irish dance has become so intricate that it really does require daily practice once one's at an intermediate to advanced level.<P>Irish dancers, at the upper level, do experience Achilles tendonitis. I don't know the statistics, of course, but my observations from both our own school and that of friends seems to bear out that Achilles tendonitis is the most common complaint. As with ballet, it's worst in the dancers who don't give their feet a rest when they first experience the problem. Of course, the cause is largely the same - too much work done in demi-pointe without concurrent flexing causes the tendon to shorten. <P>I haven't noticed many knee injuries - it doesn't seem to be as common in the Irish dancer as the ballet dancer. I don't know the reason why. I've surmised that it's because ballet, and not Irish dance, builds up the outer thigh muscles without doing the same for the inner thigh. That imbalance is the cause for many ballet knee injuries among growing dancers esp. The kneecap is resting precariously, often tilting, due to the imbalance. Doesn't take much to dislocate. Irish dance doesn't cause those stresses because it doesn't require the same kind of flexibility and strength. We don't work the muscles in the same way.<P>I know that, in my daughter's case, she's experienced two knee injuries, neither of which occurred during a year where she'd done much, if any, Irish dance. During her first growth spurt, her kneecap dislocated slightly. She was completely healed in 3 weeks. To this day, she's faithful to her exercises to build up her inner thigh muscles. Two months ago, she experienced some minor swelling in her knee, caused by quad tendonitis. Again, this healed within a week because she immediately begin to regularly stretch her quads. Considering she's at the senior level of a pre-pro school known for its intensity, she's had fewer injuries than most of her contemporaries.<P>As an Irish dancer, the only injury she's had occurred while she was taking private lessons last summer. These lessons were concentrated and quite intense for an Irish dancer since it's such an aerobic activity. The fascia on her sole pulled into a knot. She has a very high arch which creates that risk automatically. She found that she eliminates the problem by massaging the area before Irish dance, and being faithful to her flexing exercises.<P>Regarding energy absorption, frankly, I wonder too. That's probably not the answer I should give, as a professional, but it's honest. We never thought about such things in Irish dance in the past. Some teachers still don't ask these questions. Irish dancers of course don't lock their knees while they dance, so the knee does absorb some impact as does the foot. I've noticed my daughter has ever so slight a plie, a little more than most Irish dancers. <P>The torque question doesn't seem to be an issue. In the studio, the normal turnout of an individual seems to be enough for safety in Irish dance. I don't know why - I just know that it's a relatively non-issue. I have to qualify this by saying that the best place to look for a good comparison would be the corps of Riverdance or LOTD. I know some of those dancers personally: they've said that Achilles tendonitis is THE injury. It makes sense since their feet are pounding the floor all day long in rehearsals and shows. So perhaps it's the feet that take all the impact. The student Irish dancer simply doesn't train as many hours and therefore doesn't endure such injuries.<P>Our dance school, in nearly 25 years existence, has seen only ankle sprains and strains caused by a dancer landing wrong. Over the past 10 years, as our relationship with the ballet school has grown due to our daughter's commitment, we've learned much about dance injury prevention. We constantly incorporate new stretches as we become aware of them and we work with a physical therapist experienced with the ballet school to avoid causing injuries. I think more and more Irish dance schools are doing the same.


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 Post subject: Re: Irish Step Classes
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2001 5:49 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Thank you so much, JM - for a wonderful and complete reply. <P>Would it be possible to describe some of the stretches your daughter does for her inner thighs to achieve the balance you are describing?<P>sorry....I just keep asking questions...LOL


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