A.D.C.R.G. Certified Adjudicator
- A -
Ard Diploma Choimisiuin Le Rinci Gaelacha: translation is Highest Diploma in Gaelic Dancing. (see also T.C.R.G)
- A -


Beginners' costume
- B -
A simpler costumes, for girls usually a skirt and blouse, and for boys usually a dress shirt and dark pants.


Ceili dances & gatherings
- C -
Ceili dances were derived from group set dances and French quadrilles, but were set to Irish music. They appear to have evolved with the help of the Irish dance masters, many from County Kerry. Nationalism, combined with the Handbook of Irish Dances published in 1902, led to standardization of Ceili dances. Recording the descriptions of these dances occurred through the 1930s. For example, the Sweets of May and A Trip to the Cottage were discovered in South Armagh, being known only to a group of elderly men and women. Luckily, many ceili dances were recorded before being lost in history. Sometimes Ceili dancing is referred to as figure dancing.A "ceili" is a gathering for music and dance. The Gaelic League sponsored the first Irish ceili in 1897. They borrowed the idea from the Scots and a precedent was set that a piper opened the ceili. Because the ceili dance revival was not widespread at that time, the dances at the first Irish ceili consisted of group set dances and French quadrilles!


- D -
Dow-sa. Irish Gaelic for "dance""."


- F -
Fay-lah. Typically, a dance competition that focuses only on dance, without that extra competitions that a feis may have. Also see CRN’s definition.
- F -
(pronounced "Fesh") A festival that includes figure (group) and solo step dancing, crafts, instrumental, vocal and Gaelic language competitions. The plural is feisanna. A competition with only dancing is sometimes called a feile, however, most dancing only competitions label themselves a feis.
Figure Dance
- F -
see ceili entry for more information


Ghillies - soft shoe
- G -
These are the name for the standard soft shoe worn by women dancers. They are distinctive in appearance, lacing-up from near the toe to up and around the ankle and lower leg. Ghillies are used for all the light dances such as the reel, light jig, slip jig, and single jig. In addition light shoes are normally worn for figure dancing.


Hard Shoe
- H -
Black leather shoes with fiberglass heels and taps on the toes. Also called jig shoes, heavy shoes. These shoes consist of fiberglass, composite or steel tips and heels. The tips and heels are used to make a rhythmic drumming sound when performing hornpipes, hard jigs, sets and treble reels. Irish Step Dancing is currently recognized through primarily hard shoe, professional performance shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. However, dances with hard shoes are more difficult to perform and thus are reserved for later when the dancer gains the more basic steps.
- H -
The hornpipe was originally danced exclusively by males in hard shoes, but now, both men and women compete. The hornpipe is in 4/4 time, reminiscent of a slow reel with accents on the first and third beat (ONE-and-a two-and-a three-and-a four-and-a). The apparent slowness of the music, allows for many intricate dance elements in a short amount of time. A notable feature is the frequent use of a rocking motion with the ankles.


- J -
There are many references to the jig in ancient Ireland. A number of variations of the jig are performed including the light, single (or soft), double (aka treble or hard), and slip jig. The music is 6/8 time (the emphasis on beats in a jig is: ONE-two-three four-five-six). Slip jigs are in 9/8 time (ONE-two-three four-five-six seven-eight-nine). Dancers perform single or soft jigs in soft shoes. Solo competitions occur at the level of beginners, advanced beginners, and at some feisanna, Open. Competitions at all levels also occur in the treble jig which has a slower tempo, but dancers triple beats in hard shoes. Normally, only women dance the slip jig, however, increasingly boys learn and dance the slip jig.
Jig, Double
- J -
A hard shoe dance to a slow double jig. Also heavy jig, treble jig.
Jig, Light
- J -
A soft shoe ("light shoe") dance to a lively double jig.
Jig, Treble - Fast/Traditional
- J -
A beginning hard shoe dance to double jig music.
Jig, Treble - Slow/Contemporary
- J -
An advanced hard shoe dance to double jig music; the music is played considerably slower than traditional speed.


- K -
A pleated garment worn by men. In Irish dancing, these are solid-colored.


- L -
The beginning step of a dance that travels in a circle. It can last eight or sixteen bars, and is often followed by a sidestep.
Light Jig
- L -
see Jig entry for more information


- O -
(pronounced "oh-ROCK-tus") A type of super feis. In North America, they are organised by regions, having begun in 1976. Competition is by age category and gender, but there is no separation of skill levels. Dancers placing highly qualify for the World Championship in Ireland (Oireachtas na Cruinne). A North American championship competition began in 1969. Locations vary from year to year. Both the national and world championships are also called Oireachtas (plural is Oireachtasai).


Poodle Socks
- P -
(also called bubble socks)Special, white socks that must be worn by female dancers in competition.


- R -
The reel originated around 1750 in Scotland and the Irish dance masters brought it to full development. The music is 4/4 time and it is danced at a relatively fast tempo (ONE-two-three-four). Both men and women dance the reel. For women, it is a light, rapid soft shoe dance that allows for plenty of leaping and demands an energetic performance from the dancer. Men often dance the reel in what appears to be hard shoes without the toe tap up front.Often a feis will include a special competition in the treble reel. Here, dancers in a single line dance right and left leg. Some separate out age groups, some combine the age groups into one competition. Usually, audiences are extremely enthusiastic in their appreciation for this exciting performance.
Reel, Light
- R -
A lively, athletic soft shoe dance to a reel.
Reel, Treble
- R -
A lively, show-stopping hard shoe dance to a reel at a speed slightly faster than a light reel.


School costume
- S -
A costume uniform worn by a particular school.
Set Dance
- S -
Group dancing that has somewhat standard dances, danced with shuffling steps and lots of spins. These are not regarded as traditionally Irish, the style having come originally from the European continent, but are quite popular just the same.
Set dance, Championship or Nontraditional
- S -
Much like the traditional set dances, though danced to music played considerably slower than traditional speed. Instead of dancing the same steps, however, contemporary solo set dances give choreographic license: one dancer’s "Lodge Road," for example, can be incredibly different from another's.
Set dance, Traditional
- S -
A fast or traditional-speed hard shoe dance to a specific tune, such as "Saint Patrick’s Day" or "Garden of Daisies". Set dances usually have an "odd" number of bars in the dances (as opposed to the 16-bar steps of regular dances). These are usually made of a "step" and a "set". For example, a set dance could have sixteen bars in the step, and twelve in the set. These dances have traditional steps that are choreographed to the music, which everyone dances nearly the same.
Side step
- S -
A dance step that moves from side to side. It can be eight or sixteen bars long, and typically follows a lead-around of the same length.
Single Jig
- S -
see Jig entry for more information
Slip Jig
- S -
Slip jigs are in 9/8 time (ONE-two-three four-five-six seven-eight-nine). The slip jig is danced in soft shoes and is the most graceful of Irish dances. It features light hopping, sliding, skipping and pointing. (see Jigentry for more information)
Soft shoe
- S -
See "Ghillies".
Solo costume
- S -
A costume created for an individual dancer. In North America it is common to have dancers earn their solo costumes by achieving a certain ability level, while in Ireland and Great Britain, dancers often can have solo costumes even when a beginner. Solo costumes can range from simpler, older costumes to the complex, stiff modern dresses.
Solo dancing, step dancing
- S -
A style of Irish dancing which focuses on the individual dancer, concentrating on tricky footwork and other virtuoso choregraphy. It is further separated into softshoe and hardshoe dancing. Dancers may dance their solo steps alone, or side by side with other dancers.


- T -
(Certified Instructor). "Teasgicoir Choimisiuin Le Rinci Gaelacha". Translation is Gaelic Commission Dancing Teacher. (see also A.D.C.R.G)
Treble Jig
- T -
see Jig entry for more information

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