Elvis is alive and… well… Irish dancing!

This is a bit of film I took in Ireland of the pretty-fabulous Brian Cunningham who danced and wowed us for a minute and a half in Tubbercurry, Co.Sligo in July 2012 (thanks to my friend Marian whose camera I commandeered in haste).

The question is – step dancing or sean nós dancing? What say you?

If you’d like to learn to dance freestyle Irish sean nós- check this out….

PS. By strange coincidence, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, ACT, Australia is hosting an exhibition called “Elvis at 21” with gorgeous photos of the young man on the cusp of fame by Alfred Wertheimer. Went to see it today and it’s cracking.

Nora Stewart
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Irish music and dance: The Ard Macha (Armagh) Fleadh


I was cleaning out some papers today and I came across this little poem I wrote over 12 years ago when I was living in Ireland. It brought a smile …

“How’s about ye?”
They say with a grin
“One more couple needed…”
“…You’re welcome in” Continue reading

Irish music: Thank-you for the Irish music


Session in the front garden

One of the wonderful things about dancing at home is that you get to choose the music. Don’t get me wrong. When I’m at a céilí or workshop, I’m happy to accept the music that has been chosen by others. Most of the time.

But when I’m at home, I go through phases of being absolutely in love with different tunes, different musicians and combinations of music and far beyond the usual recorded music specifically for set dances. Don’t you find that, too?

Continue reading

Irish dance shoes: Well-heeled and well-travelled

Now that I am able to wear shoes again, I was looking at all my footwear for dancing and thinking about the progression of how they came to me and why I love them all.

The oldest in my collection by a country mile are my very traditional Australian RM Williams horse riding boots. Beautifully made with leather soles and elastic sides, they are the most comfortable boots you’ll find anywhere. I bought these off a friend (second-hand/ foot) for $20 when I was 13 years old and they are well over 30 years old (so am I!). Extremely well-travelled boots, coming to Ireland with me and back again, they have been re-soled and repaired many times since then and I gave them an outing in my first film “Sean-nOZ”.
DSCN2265 Continue reading

Irish dance: The heel of the reel

Stone Henge in Bywong

Stone Henge in Bywong, Australia winter morning

You don’t realise how important your feet are until you are injured and can’t get about. Fortunately, mine is not permanent and my burn is heeling(!) well with the help of regular applications of aloe vera, growing conveniently in our North-facing sunroom. I have been unable to wear anything but very loose slippers for nearly 3 weeks now but in the last few days, going without slippers, socks or bandage has allowed the air to help the skin to grow back quickly. Thankfully, it’s warm inside the house while we have had some absolutely freezing days here in Bywong (see photo), with -6⁰C on Thursday and something similar when I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Continue reading

Best foot forward!

Home in the snow

Our home in winter here in Australia

Woke early this chilly winter morning in the bush, the sky is that very pale and deep blue on the horizon with snow threatening, forecast confirmed by the knowing birdsong of magpies.
Can’t dance today because I am recovering from a very badly scalded right foot- result of dropping a kettle of boiling water nearly 2 weeks ago and the healing has been slow. However, it’s coming good with the help of a regular covering of honey – Martin’s honey- and I am confident it will be good as new.
Then I can get on with practicing “The Priest & His Boots”, a gorgeous little old-style jig that I tried to learn from Celine Tubridy all those years ago in Ireland but without success.  Frustrating because I couldn’t follow what she was doing but also I didn’t have the skills developed for the basic moves that would have helped make it easier, like doing the shuffles.
But now with the help of YouTube and technology to slow it down, I’ve been watching her husband Michael dance it  beautifully with Maureen Culleton, really inspired to see such gentle, elegant dancing from people of an age where many are not advancing, but retiring.
I’ve been using the Amazing Slowdowner software to slow down a jig by Mary Macnamara to about 80% of it’s speed, and broken the dance into five parts. I don’t have each move exactly right yet but that will come with practice, when my foot gets better – I hope!
See you soon – dancing at home.

Nora Stewart

21 July 2013