The BYU Irish Dance Club performed at the BYUSA Club Showcase on March 15 in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Irish dancing is a traditional Gaelic or Celtic dance form originating in Ireland.
Claire Farnsworth, BYU junior vice-president of the Irish Dance Club, said the group had prepared three different dances to perform at the event. They chose to divide it into three parts to show the wide variety of skills and techniques that Irish dancing contains.
She said Irish dancing has two different shoe styles; a hard shoe and a soft shoe. She compared a hard shoe to clogs or tap shoes, and soft shoes to ballet slippers. Farnsworth said she preferred the hard shoe because she liked the rhythm and the sound. Every time she hears an Irish dance song, she feels like she has to dance.
The first dance started with a soft shoe to show solo and group style. The second dance was a group dance full of beginner/intermediate dancers and the last dance was a hard shoe piece.
“It was fun to dance in front of a group. For many of us, we performed a lot in high school, but it’s been a while since we’ve been able to perform, especially since COVID-19,” said BYU Senior Irish Dance President Megan Smith Club.
Smith and Farnsworth both became involved in Irish dancing through their cousins when they were children.
“I was a little six years old. I thought my cousins were so cute. They got to curl their hair and wear pretty dresses and I was like, ‘Mom, I want to do this,'” Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth and Smith said Irish dancing is a great way to connect with Irish culture. Farnsworth lived in Europe for seven years and received most of his Irish dancing lessons from Irish and Scottish instructors. She is now TA for Irish dancing class and said she received much of her teaching style from these teachers.
“It’s really fun talking to Irish people because they have a very different background, but we can connect through dancing,” Smith said. “The history of Irish dancing has been really cool to find out. Plus I enjoy the music.
Irish dance is pretty strict about how the feet are placed, as they’re usually performed with intricate footwork and a stiff upper body, Farnsworth said. The dancers keep their arms and hands to the side and let their feet do the talking.
“Irish is very varied. There are different types of shoes, you can do solo pieces or you can dance with a group. All have similar techniques, but you can do a lot,” Smith said.
Farnsworth said their recent club meetings have all been practice for the Club Showcase performance. However, most meetings include exercises, practicing steps, and teaching others.
“Sometimes we’ll teach each other things because people come from different backgrounds and schools, so they’ll know different tricks and we’ll learn from them,” Smith said.
BYU junior Luke Beckstrand joined the Irish Dance Club to improve his dance skills. He said the best way to get involved in Irish dancing is to come and learn. The Irish Dance Club meets on Saturdays at 11am in RB 158.
“We just dance. A few of us didn’t do any Irish dancing. They teach us, so you don’t have to know anything,” Beckstrand said. “We just learn with everyone. We introduce ourselves, have fun and learn some steps.