The merriment throughout Gasson Hall was evident during Irish Dance and Ceili. A part of the Boston College Gaelic Roots Series, the event was an evening of Irish dance taught by Kieran Jordan, a talented Irish dancer and one of BC’s own faculty members, with live music directed by fiddle master Seamus Connolly, Sullivan-Artist-in-Residence in Irish Programs. Dance and Ceili showcased not only Irish music and dance, but also the social tradition of Ceili, a celebration where people socialized with others in a lively setting. Merely hearing the Irish music and seeing a warm, wide-open space upon arrival.
Folks of all ages came and danced together to celebrate the purely social nature of Ceili events. First, some basic dance moves were taught—a simple hop step, a jig, and a seven step, to name a few. With the help of some of the members from Jordan’s Irish dance class, the steps and dances were presented to participants in a manageable way, and soon folks were skipping around the dance floor like professionals (well … almost).
Next, a handful of members of Boston College Irish Dance team appeared and performed two lovely routines. Irish Dance filled with the rhythmical sound of hard-shoes striking the floor during the group’s first high-energy routine. The attendees clapped in time, enjoying the spectacle. The second dance from Irish Dance was the “Four Hand Reel,” a partner dance making use of dance formations that was crisply performed and made for a visually artful routine. Both routines clearly showed an exemplary demonstration of Irish dance, in which the audience could appreciate all the more after having just tried to learn some basic steps themselves.
Irish Dance’s second routine proved a precursor to the partner dances that the event participants would soon be trying out. The social nature of Ceili really shined through when the dances became more partner and group oriented. Pairs of dancers moved all around the room, dancing with different pairs of people with each run-through of the dance. This was done in the “rince fada” or “long line dance” style, which allowed for everyone to interact with the night’s diverse group of attendees. Participants seemed to be having a great time, whether they were performing the dances flawlessly or shuffling through with their best effort. For the majority of the event, the room was abuzz with laughter, chatter, and cheerful Irish music, and the spirited energy of the dances really encapsulated the some of the sentiments of Irish culture.
A large chunk of the way into the event, participants were granted a much-welcomed break from dancing to watch the live band play a handful of traditional songs. Some songs were sung with guitar or fiddle accompaniment, while another consisted of a duo playing a tranquil tune on the flutes. Some of the event participants even knew the lyrics to the songs, and sang along quietly with the performers. In any case, the musical performances really brought the audience into Ireland, and welcomed the audience into a rich tradition of Irish culture.
But soon everyone was back to dancing, with some more simple dances (such as the “shoe the donkey” dance) to get even more participants onto the floor. By the time the evening had ended, participants were confident that they got an entertaining look into the world of Irish tradition through the unique and immensely talented musical and dancing performers of the night.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Staff