What is competition dance
The stiff, upright posture is an essential style element of Irish dancing. Irish Step Dancing is in fact the only dance style that limits a dance with high demands on balance to leg movements and excludes movements of the arms, upper body and head. The back and arms always stay straight, the head held high and looking forward. While this tension is very much emphasized in competition dance, the body still remains relatively relaxed with Sean Nós and the social set dances.
Essential for the Irish dance style is the position of the 45 ° rotated outwards, Turn-out, and slightly crossed in front of each other, Cross-over, standing feet so that both ankles can be seen. However, the rotation does not take place in the ankle, but affects the whole legs, which are rotated in the hips. This position is retained during all movements or is immediately restored if the position of the feet is changed due to the dance. Therefore, steps and taps are only performed in front of or behind the standing leg, never next to it or outwards, apart from steps to change the position of the room. In Heavy Dances, this is the most important visible difference to American Tap Dance, where taps can be performed in any direction and any position of the foot. The same can be said of the difference between light dances and ballet. The range of variation in the position of the legs and feet is large, however. In the Sean Nós or the Social Set Dances, for example, the feet are relaxed and almost parallel and are hardly or very little crossed. In contrast, modern competition dance tends to turn the feet outwards by almost 90 ° and cross them very far.
Irish Solo Dances and Céil & iacute Dances, with the exception of certain motions such as stamps, heels and toes, are mainly performed on the balls, Pull up, danced. By standing on the ball, the dancer gives the impression of floating above the dance floor. While this ball position is not carried out too high in the Sean Nós, the competition dance sometimes develops towards the tip dance. Pronounced top dance elements should only be trained by experienced dancers and are generally inadmissible for children under the age of 12 in order to prevent permanent damage to the feet. In contrast to the other Irish dances, the Irish Social Set Dances are danced more, but not entirely on the sole. Particularly in lavishly choreographed set dances, footwork known from solo dances is often inserted, which also includes recourse to their style.
If a foot is lifted off the floor in Solo or Céilí Dancing, it is always stretched. The shin, back of the foot and toes should look like a straight line. This is not so pronounced with motions that are relatively close to the ground. In the case of jumps and silent motions, however, this must be clearly visible. Here, too, things are a little more relaxed in Sean Nós and the Social Set Dances, although in these styles the dance is generally closer to the ground.
Keep your knees straight when standing, and preferably with many movements. With a few exceptions, sideways movements of the knees should be avoided. In contrast, the knees in American Tap Dance are slightly bent so that the legs can perform movements without the rest of the body having to perform these movements. Instead, the upper body is leaned forward in a relaxed manner and the arms are bent in order to be able to perform movements that are completely independent of leg movements. In Irish dancing, the upper body and arms should move with the entire body without any movement of their own, especially with high jumps. This gives the Irish dance the typical elegance of the tight posture. The upper body always remains upright and stretched, the shoulders pulled back and both are equally high. The arms should hang straight and immobile next to the body when they are not used for partner frames. Uncontrolled dangling of the arms when jumping and turning is to be avoided as well as gaining momentum. In competition dance, it is expected that the arms are rotated slightly outward so that the elbows rest at the waist and the entire arms are snug against the body. A straight, but relaxed and rather natural arm position, as is usual in Sean Nós, is more comfortable and also looks more aesthetic, which is why it is preferred by show dancers. In addition, it is common in Sean Nós to put one or both arms on the hips. In dance competitions, care is taken to keep the hands clenched in a fist. Here, too, the more natural hand position of the Sean Nós is to be preferred, although the occasional stretching of individual fingers, as well as the spreading of the hands, should be avoided.
The head is raised high, but not too high either. The dancer should not look uncertainly at his feet or the feet of other dancers, nor should he appear arrogant. The chin should be parallel to the floor so that the dancer proudly looks forward.
In modern stage dance, the Irish stylistic features described here are often broken down to achieve certain effects that are not intended in folk and competitive dance. Individual arm and head movements can be used effectively as a means of expression, as long as the overall impression is retained. The variation of the arm position is also popular, whereby the arms are kept either in the hips or in front of or behind the body. This allows different moods to be expressed in order to support a corresponding choreography of the movements.
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