Marie Duffy Foundation

Q: What is the difference between Show Dancing and traditional Irish Dancing?
A: In traditional Irish Dancing, the upper body remains straight and still with the arms by your side. Show dancing is an accelerated version of traditional dancing. It incorporates upper body and arm movements which express your feeling of the music and rhythm. You will see examples of Show Dancing in Michael Flatley’s shows.
Q: Is there an official body representing Irish Dance?
A: ‘An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha’ (CLRG) is the governing body and it covers all aspects of Irish Dance including accredited teachers and adjudicators, examinations, workshops and details of Irish Dancing worldwide.
Q: I’d like to take up Irish Dancing, so how should I go about it?
A: You should check the CLRG website to find a qualified teacher with CLRG certification in your area. We would always recommend that you only train with someone accredited by An Coimisiún.
Q: How early would you recommend starting to learn Irish Dancing?
A: The earlier the better although Michael Flatley didn’t start until he was 11. Marie Duffy, for example, started dancing at the age of six and was already choreographing dance steps for her class by the age of 13. Nowadays most children start at about four years of age.
Q: How fit do you have to be to take up Irish Dancing?
A: Irish Dancing requires a high level of athleticism together with an awareness of how physically demanding the routines are. You would of course also be expected to have a daily exercise routine in combination with good nutrition.
Q: How much practice is required?
A: This depends on your aim and level. It will vary according to each individual’s ability, age and ambition and specific advice will be provided as you progress. You can start as a child or as an adult – don’t be put off if you’re older! Dancing is to be enjoyed by every age as different aspects of Irish Dance are suitable for all ages and abilities. Classes are enjoyable, social occasions apart from the dance element.
Q: At what age can you start entering competitions?
A: Irish Dance competitions, at local feiseanna, begin at under 5. At World Championships level, competitions start at 11 and can be entered every year until the age of 21 (then you would enter adult Over-21 competitions). Boys and girls are entered separately for the solo competitions. For the ceili, the team dances are taken from the Commission’s official handbook. For figure choreography, competition entrants will perform their dance school’s own compositions. At World Championship level there is also a Dance Drama category.
Q: I’m hoping to join my local Irish Dance class. What kind of shoes will I need?
A: Initially you would start with the Irish dance pump. You would then progress to the heavier shoe. If you intend to enter competitions you would then need to consider costumes. Your teacher will advise as you progress.
Q: How much does a costume cost at competition level?
A: At competition level a costume can cost anything between £1,000 and £2,000. However, at beginner and introductory levels, children can wear normal dance attire - simple tops and skirts or trousers.
Q: Where can I see Irish Dance performed live?
A: Irish Dance has become so popular, thanks to shows like Lord of the Dance etc that you will be able to find a competition or a show anywhere in the world. We would recommend that you check the CLRG website for details.
Q: Where can I see a Lord of the Dance show?
A: You can find details of all the shows that are running at the moment on the Lord of the Dance website. There is also a 3D film of Lord of the Dance which premiered in 2011 as has been shown at venues all over the world.
Q: How long has Lord of the Dance been running?
A: There have been shows somewhere in the world since 1996 (often more than one at any one time) and now the 3D film will bring the magic of the dance to an even wider audience.
Q: What should I do if I wish to audition for Lord of the Dance?
A: You should go to the official website.
Q: How can I apply for a Marie Duffy Foundation award?
A: Please go to the how we can help you make your dreams come true page on this website. You will find details on how to apply and the criteria you need to fulfil in order to be eligible.
Q: How do I know whether I would be eligible for an award?
A: Please refer to the how we can help you page for advice and information on how to apply. The Marie Duffy Foundation is currently offering three excellence awards in addition to the annual awards given each September (click on awards to find out more). Please check the website for updates.
Q: Is it possible to study Irish Dance at a college or university?
A: You can obtain a BA in Irish Dance at the University of Limerick. The Marie Duffy Excellence Award in Dance Performance is being offered in association with the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the university. There are, however, also many other places where you can incorporate elements of Irish Dance into a general dance qualification.

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