Glossary

For the person not familiar with Irish dance, a list of terms you may find useful:

Bloomers: What I wear under my dress in competition, as to not flash the audience.

Ceili: A team dance.  Pronounced 'KAY-lee'

CLRG: The Irish dance governing body that my school is a member of.  Short for An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha.

Feis: See feiseanna.  Pronounced 'fesh'

Feiseanna: An Irish dance competition.  Pronounced 'fesh-AHN-uh'

Figure: A really big team dance consisting of 12-16 dancers.

Ghillies: The soft shoes worn my female dancers for reels and slip jigs.  They are made of leather and are meant to be tight to the foot, similar to a ballet slipper.  They lace up the middle of the shoe in a criss-cross fashion.

Hornpipe: A hard shoe dance in 4/4 time (duple meter), but with a swung feel.  Performed in competition at 113 bpm.

NANs: North American Irish Dance Championships, also North American Nationals.  An "open nationals" (any qualifying CLRG dancer of any country can enter) held in North America every year at the beginning of July.

Novice: The first non-beginner level in Irish dance.  You must get a first place in all of your dances (reel, slip jig, hornpipe, treble jig) to move to the next level of prizewinner.

Oireachtas: Pronounced 'oh-ROCK-tus.'  This is what I refer to our regional championships as, but I suppose any Irish dancing championship is an Oireachtas.  I also refer to our regional Oireachtas as the SRO, short for Southern Region Oireachtas.

Open championships: The highest level of competitive Irish dance.

Poodle socks: The white socks female Irish dancers wear.  They have a sort of waffle pattern on them, and are generally worn at mid-calf.  They are often covered in rhinestones for competition.

Preliminary championships: The second-highest level of competitive Irish dance, and the first of the championship levels.  You must win twice in competition to move up to open championships.  This is also referred to as 'prelim' for short.

Prizewinner: The highest of the grade levels in Irish dance.  In my region, you have to win a soft shoe and a hard shoe dance to move up to preliminary championships, but the requirements vary depending on region/dance school.

Recall: These are found at large competitions, usually Oireachtas, but some local feiseanna if there's more than 50 dancers.  After dancing a hard shoe and soft shoe dance, the top half of the competition will be invited back to dance a set dance.  Basically if you recall at a competition, you place and receive some sort of award.

Reel: Typically a soft shoe dance.  It's in a straight 4/4 (duple meter) and performed at 113 bpm.  A reel can also be performed in hard shoes (called a treble reel), which is what most show-style hard shoe dances are.

Rince: "Dance" in Gaelic.  Pronounced 'RING-ka'

Set dance: Generally a solo dance in competition done in hard shoe.  Danced after recalls are announced at Oireachtas.  These are also sometimes done in lieu of hornpipe/treble jig at a feis in open championship level.  There are two different kinds of set dances: traditional (steps and music are the same no matter where you are in the world), and non-traditional (only the music is the same).  For non-tradt'l sets, dancers can choose from a list of 30 tunes and choreograph steps to fit the tune.  These dances are usually used to showcase your best dancing.

Slip jig: A soft shoe dance done only by women.  In 9/8 (triple meter), and performed at 113 bpm in competition.

Sock glue: This is our secret weapon so our socks don't fall down our legs.  In Irish dance, I opt for the cheaper version and use a glue stick for the same purpose.  In gymnastics, I called it 'butt glue', and used it to prevent wedgies in competition.

Solo dress: Those elaborate dresses worn in competition by novice level dancers and above.  Each dress is unique for each dancer, and can cost anywhere from $150 used to $3000 new.

TCRG: A dance teacher registered with the CLRG.  Short for Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha.

Treble jig: A hard shoe dance in 6/8 (triple meter).  Performed in competition at 73 bpm.

Wigs: Because our hair is clearly not that curly or voluminous on it's own.  We wear some version of a wig in competition, be it a full head wig, or just a bun wig.

Worlds: World Irish dance championships.  Also called the Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne.
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