6.13.2012

Irish Dance in the Public School

A major part Virginia fourth grade curriculum is studying the history of my lovely state, from Jamestown to the geography.  The culmination of their studies is usually (depending on the school) a 'colonial fair.'  For these colonial fairs, the students learn a dance (or more!) in music class or PE, the most popular dance being the Virginia Reel.  Upon my arrival at the school, I noticed just how similar this was to a certain ceili I've learned in my Irish dance days...



I knew that jumping in to being a long-term music substitute was going to be awesome if my fourth graders were doing ceilis every day.  And it didn't stop with the Virginia Reel/Haymaker's Jig.  The students were responsible for knowing six other line and square dances.  Armed with my New England Dancing Masters books (Ar Rinci Foirne for elementary music teachers), I learned and taught the other dances.  I was quick to see that square dances are like 8-hands.  They even had some of the same moves with different names!
Lead around  -----> Promenade
Chain            -----> Grand right and left
Once the students knew their square danced, and to encourage them to be serious about their own dancing, I told them I was an Irish dancer and showed them two Youtube videos: one of Haymaker's Jig and one of the Three Tunes.  The students were all impressed with how precise their handwork and lines were, and how well they danced without 'calls' with the music.  Of course, after introducing myself as an Irish dancer, brought on quite a few questions, so I decided to dedicate a day in the last few weeks of talk about solo Irish dancing, costuming, and yes, teach a jig.

Teaching a simple light jig step is attainable for fourth and fifth grade classes.  Most students were just happy to be jumping around and didn't care if they were doing it right or wrong.  A lot of the girls enjoyed it and told me how they practice at recess.  I was also surprised with the natural ability of some of the boys!  They're at an age where most think dancing is "for girls only," but if they knew how many competitions they would win as a naturally talented boy, I bet they would think again.

To culminate this activity, we watched my Lord of the Dance DVD. (skipping the "boring" singing and fiddle parts.  Also Breakout.)  Watching that DVD inspired my dancing career, so who knows, there may be some new Irish dancing students!

Goals: Re-figure SJ lead so there are no jumps off of bad foot
Days till Os: 170

1 comment:

  1. Did u know that square dancing comes from Irish dancing brought over by immigrants to the US. Clogging is the same it's hard shoe but with an American twist.

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