Irish Dance Club performs in BYUSA showcase

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The BYU Irish Dance Club performed in the BYUSA Club Showcase on March 15 in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Irish dance is a traditional Gaelic or Celtic dance form that originated in Ireland. 

BYU junior Claire Farnsworth, vice president of the Irish Dance Club, said the group prepared three different dances to showcase at the event. They chose to make it into three parts to show the wide variety of skills and technique Irish dance contains.

She said Irish dance has two different styles of shoes; a hard shoe and soft shoe. She compared a hard shoe to clogs or tap shoes, and soft shoes to ballet slippers. Farnsworth said she prefers the hard shoe because she loves the beat and sound. Whenever she hears an Irish dance song come on, she feels 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 beginning/intermediate dancers and the last dance was a hard shoe piece.

“It was fun to dance in front of a group. For a lot of us, we performed a lot for high school, but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten to perform, especially since COVID-19,” said BYU senior Megan Smith, Irish Dance Club president.

Smith and Farnsworth both got involved in Irish dance through their cousins when they were kids. 

“I was a little six year old. I thought my cousins were so cute. They got to curl their hair and wear cute dresses and I was like, ‘Mom, I want to do that,’” Farnsworth said. 

Farnsworth and Smith said Irish dance is a great way to connect to the Irish culture. Farnsworth lived in Europe for seven years and received most of her Irish dances lessons from Irish and Scottish instructors. She now is a TA for the Irish Dance class and said she received a lot of her teaching style from those teachers.

“It’s really fun to talk to people from Ireland, because they have a very different experience, but we can connect over dancing,” Smith said. “The history of Irish dance has been really cool to learn about. Also, I appreciate the music.”

Irish dance is pretty strict about how one’s feet are placed as it is typically performed with intricate footwork and a stiff upper body, Farnsworth said. Dancers keep their arms and hands to the side and let their feet do the talking. 

“Irish has a lot of variety. There are different kinds of shoes, you can do solo pieces, or you can dance with a group. All have similar techniques, but have a lot you can do with it,” Smith said. 

Farnsworth said their recent club meetings have all been practice for the Club Showcase performance. However, most meetings include drills, practicing steps and teaching others.

“Sometimes we will teach each other stuff because people are coming from different backgrounds and schools, so they’ll know different tricks and we will learn from them,” Smith said. 

BYU junior Luke Beckstrand joined the Irish Dance Club to improve his dancing skills. He said the best way to get involved in Irish dance is to come and learn. The Irish Dance Club meets on Saturdays at 11 a.m. in RB 158.

“We just dance. A couple of us have done no Irish dance. They teach us, so you don’t need to know anything,” Beckstrand said. “We just learn along with everyone else. We show up, we have fun and learn a couple of steps.”

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