Irish dance basics: The heel of the reel

The Paris Opera Ballet School celebrated over 300 years of dance tradition in 2013,  and I recently saw a lovely documentary focusing on the experience of young dancers starting out and doing an orientation of the company. I was entranced by their passion and commitment, particularly their gentle and considered approach to every aspect of the school and it’s tradition.

Part of that tradition is where all the youngest & newest members of the ballet school participate in the annual défilé– a parade of all balleParis Opera Ballet School -defileballett school and company members prior to a proper ballet performance. Everyone is on show, and careful attention is paid to all aspects of the défilé slow walk. One young dancer said her teacher told her to imagine that our heels light up the room.”

I’m quite taken by that idea- every time you lift your heel there’s a bright shining light that illuminates.

However, it’s all very well to do that in a slow, deliberate ballet walk but trying to light up the room at a fast Irish reel pace can be quite a challenge. Here is some information about reels that might help you.

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Learning Irish dance steps from YouTube

I often see lovely steps on YouTube I’d love to learn – like this one from Mick Mulkerrin:

But for someone like me, this is just a bit too fast to start learning from.

Technology not only allows generous dancers to film and post great steps, but also helps  to S-L-O-W it all down – both the images and the sound- like this:

It does sound a bit strange with the slowed down audio- a bit like a horror movie- but don’t mess with this as you’ll need the sound of the feet to help guide you with the rhythm of the steps.

TIP: The key to learning new steps is to break it down into simple parts but ALWAYS do it with the rhythm of the music – even if you just hum the music to yourself rather than having the music playing.

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