The Historical Roots of Traditional Irish Dancing

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance Image: broadway.com
Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance
Image: broadway.com

 

Laurie Kimbrel is a longtime educational leader who previously served as superintendent of the Tamalpais Union High School District and currently guides the Brookhaven Innovation Academy. Family focused, Laurie Kimbrel is the mother of a former competitive Irish dancer.

Most famously embodied in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance and Riverdance, traditional Irish dancing is characterized by quick, intricate footwork and group rhythmic dynamics. Beginning centuries ago as jigs, they took a formal form in the castles of the 16th century, where predecessors to the reel were performed.

By the 18th century, dancing masters who traveled between villages became popular. Each master had a particular area of influence, and this enabled the development of distinctive regional styles. Dances from this era that still remain in the Irish tradition include hornpipes, half-sets, reels, and jigs. Today, Irish dance groups wear costumes that pay homage to traditional Celtic styles and compete in dance championships that bring groups together vying for prestigious Feis titles.

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