Irish Step Dancing’s popularity seems to have surged int he US over the past many years.  This is partly due to to one of most wildly successful stage shows of all time: Riverdance.  Meghan McGlinchey, the super superstitious main character in Lucky Me, is a fab Irish dancer.

But, you ask: What’s different about Irish dancing from break dancing?  The most defining feature of Irish step dancing is that dancers keep a stiff upper body (usually with their hands clenched into tight fists at their sides) while doing lots of fast, fancy footwork. Some styles call for soft shoes that resemble ballet slippers, and some utilize hard shoes that add lots of loud taps and clicks to the performance. Girls also wear wigs of tight ringlets with headbands or tiaras, and a dedicated few style their own hair with lots of bouncy curls.

If you’ve never watched a performance, you’re really missing out! Check out some of these beautiful costumes!

Irish step dancing

School costumes

The girls in the above picture are wearing school costumes for a group performance. The uniformity creates a very cool visual effect when they’re all flying across the stage together!

Irish step dancing solo dresses

Solo dresses

These girls (some of whom look to be about Meghan’s age) are wearing colorful, personalized solo dresses. Solo dresses are used by dancers in higher levels of competition in order to set them apart from other dancers. These special dresses reflect a dancer’s own personality and sense of style, and are helpful in creating a memorable performance and visual effect that is specific to her.

Line of Irish dancers in solo dresses

Look at all that color!

Check out this Solo Dress Pinboard for more awesome dress pictures.

If you want to see a master at work, here’s a video of fifteen year old Melissa McCarthy, who took home the gold in last year’s Irish Dancing World Championship (!!!) in Belfast.

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