Highly emotional Irish dances dazzle everyone’s imagination. Full of expressive, vigorous movements, the dance leaves you mesmerized. If you’ve seen it at least once, you develop a passion for it to the point of joining an Irish dance club. And Russia is no exception. Hundreds of Irish dance schools have been doing good business in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities across Russia.
The first Irish dance championship held in Moscow recently impressed the jury consisting of British and Irish professionals by the number of Irish dance lovers and their top-class performance. The contest brought together hundreds of dancers from all corners of Russia.
One of the young dancers, Tigran Minosyan said, “I am fascinated by rapid leg movements and stepdancing, and I’m fond of drumming the floor with my heels.”
Irish dance lovers don’t smile, keep their arms at their sides and are focused on the legs. In the past, professional Irish dancers staged contests in which the winners were those who outstripped their rivals in the number of steps and jumps. The criteria for assessing Irish dance performance are the same as in the old days.
Russian women are more prone to take up Irish dances than men. Ladies are keen to look the part in every detail, including costumes with the traditional Irish pattern and curly wigs. Olesya Kuznestova, a competitor at an Irish dance contest, comments.
My friends laugh at me saying that I look funny in this wig. But it is necessary to pay homage to the Irish traditions, along with the dress that has the traditional Irish pattern, white socks and hard shoes for quality sound, Olesya Kuznestova says.
Amazingly, but the dance differs little from the original nowadays. All the dancers need is the dress and the shoes. Shoes specially designed for Irish dancing are necessary and cost a lot but are rarely needed at the beginner stage. Sneakers or gym shoes may well substitute for them early on. Darya Shestakova from Tomsk is one of the top Irish dance performers in Siberia. A professional runner, she gave up sports a couple of years ago.
I dreamed of taking up dancing since fourteen, she says. And I fell for it the moment I saw it.
Darya’s passion for Irish dancing is shared by many others. Her instructor Yulia Astapova decided that Irish dancing was her calling when she was a student at university.
We started all by ourselves, having nothing but rare video courses to guide us. We then went on to hone our skills with European masters. It’s easy to start dancing, but it isn’t easy to go on, says Yulia Astapova.
Yulia practised all her steps to perfection for years before she eventually opened her own dance school to teach others.
A dance forms a whole layer of national culture and it has greater depth than we can imagine. A dance is a language for communicating your thoughts to others, an instrument to influence a person’s mood and emotional state, and a means to shape a person’s life! Ethnic dances in particular which came to us from the depths of the centuries have an invigorating power, attracting people like a magnet. Dancing paves the way for a healthy lifestyle and enriches you culturally and emotionally.