Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

The following lists of terms and acronyms are, obviously, not comprehensive. The intention is simply to offer a few helpful references for those who are new to Irish dance. As always, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

TYPES OF DANCES:

Reel – a lively dance performed in soft shoes, characterized by a rhythm with an even 1-2-3-4 count; musical cadence is either 4/4 or 2/4 time, tempo is approximately 113 on a metronome

Light Jig – a bouncy dance performed in soft shoes, characterized by a rhythm that can be counted aloud as ONE-2-THREE or 1-2-3-FOUR; musical cadence is 6/8 time, tempo is approximately 113 on a metronome

Hop Jig (Single Jig) – IMPORTANT NOTE: Teelin School does not teach a Hop Jig dance in the early level competition classes, so when entering a feis, do not register for a hop jig competition

Slip Jig – a graceful, flowing dance performed in soft shoes, characterized by a rhythm that can be tricky to count until familiar, ONE-2-THREE-4-FIVE-6; musical cadence is 9/8 time, tempo is approximately 113 on a metronome

Treble Jig – an energetic dance performed in hard shoes, characterized by a 1-2-THREE-1-2-THREE rhythm; musical cadence is 6/8 time, tempo is approximately 92 on a metronome for “fast speed” (aka “traditional speed”) dances, and approximately 73 on a metronome for “slow speed” dances

Hornpipe – a catchy, rhythmic dance performed in hard shoes, characterized by a 1-TWO-1-TWO rhythm; musical cadence is either 2/4 or 4/4 time, tempo is approximately 138 on a metronome for “fast speed” (aka “traditional speed”) dances, and approximately 113 on a metronome for “slow speed” dances

Treble Reel – performed in hard shoes, and just as with soft shoes, characterized by a rhythm with an even 1-2-3-4 count, but with seemingly “reely” fast feet!

Set Dance – a dance performed in hard shoes and choreographed for a specific piece of traditional music (either treble jig or hornpipe tempo); a traditional set is a specific dance sequence performed at a specific speed to a specific piece of traditional music; a non-traditional set (also called contemporary set) is original choreography developed by a TCRG and performed at an optional speed to a specific piece of traditional music

Solo Dances (aka solos) – choreography that can be performed individually

Figure Dances (aka figures) – choreography that is performed in teams

TERMS FREQUENTLY USED FOR IRISH DANCE SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES:

Cross – refers to a dancer’s legs being crossed in such a way that it looks like one knee is hiding behind the other (Note: the term “cross” is almost always used in conjunction with “turnout”)

Turnout – refers to a dancer’s legs being rotated in such a way that, when legs are crossed, heels are pushed out across the midline and toes face toward midline; IMPORTANT: proper turnout comes from the hips, not from the feet – a dancer’s toes and knees should be facing the same direction

Point – a basic Irish dance movement of pointing the foot in front with proper technique (hop on back foot, legs crossed and feet turned out, pointed front foot gently brushes the floor in a staccato movement); “a point” refers to the shape the foot when it shows a proper arch, with heel clearly visible to the inside, top of the foot turned to the outside, toes long and tight

Hop 1-2-3’s – a basic Irish dance movement whereby, with legs crossed and feet turned out, a dancer steps moving forward “right, left, right, hop (on right foot), left, right, left, hop (on left foot), right, left, right” etc…

7’s & 3’s – a series of basic Irish dance moves whereby, with legs crossed and feet turned out, a dancer steps laterally “right, left, right, left…” for seven counts, then “right back-2-3, left back-2-3” and repeats (to the rhythm of the music) through a right foot and left foot section

Switch – a basic Irish dance movement whereby, with legs crossed and feet turned out, a dancer jumps straight up (in place, not traveling) and switches which foot is in front with which foot is in back

Over – the basic Irish dance movement of leaping from one foot into the air with one leg extended, other leg tucked underneath, then landing on the opposite foot from that which took off; over-the-bridge refers to an over performed in reel tempo, also sometimes called “over-2-3”

Batter – the basic Irish dance movement whereby, with legs crossed and feet turned out, a dancer brushes the floor using the tip of their hard shoe outward and then inward in such a way that it makes two distinct sounds; other Irish dance schools may use the terms “treble” or “rally” to refer to the same movement (note that each term is two syllables, representative of the two sounds)

Click – the basic Irish dance movement of one foot passing by the other foot in such a way that the heels of the hard shoes hit each other and make a clicking sound; clicks may also be done in soft shoe, but the heels don’t actually touch

NOTE: There are MANY other Irish dance terms commonly used, but this brief list is intended to give those new to Irish dance a jumpstart. The Teelin Practice Makes Perfect DVD has loads of dance movements and techniques demonstrated and explained. This DVD is a great resource for terminology related to dance technique. As always, if you have any additional questions please ask!

TERMS RELATED TO IRISH DANCE COMPETITIONS:

Feis – (pronounced “FESH”) an Irish word that means festival, but is more commonly used to describe a sanctioned Irish dance competition

Feiseanna – plural of feis, pronounced “FESH-nah”

Oireachtas – (pronounced “O-ROCK-tus”) an Irish word that means gathering, but within the context of Irish dance generally refers to the Regional Championships

Southern Region Oireachtas (SRO) – the regional championship competition in which eligible dancers from Teelin School of Irish Dance compete; this event is a qualifier for other majors

Majors – championship events with entry restricted to dancers who have qualified for Open Champion level, and/or who have qualified from a prior championship event

North American Irish Dancing Championships (NAIDC) – one of the majors; sometimes referred to as “Nationals” or ”North American Nationals” (NANs), which is a conundrum since North America is a continent, not a nation

Teelin School Dress – the official competition costume for dancers representing the Teelin School of Irish Dance in solo dance competitions at a feis, and in figure dancing competitions at championships (or feiseanna); for more information, visit this page – http://teelin.com/TSID/teelin-gear/school-dress/

Alternate School Dress – slightly less formal dress than the School Dress, often worn by Teelin dancers in the Beginner, Advanced Beginner or Novice Grade levels of competition; a good option for dancers who are new to competing, or young Advanced Beginners who are growing quickly – http://teelin.com/TSID/teelin-gear/alternate-school-dress/

Solo Dress / Solo Costume – a unique costume (and quite an expensive one) worn for champion level solo dance competitions; please read the guidelines regarding Teelin dancers and solo dresses on this page – http://teelin.com/TSID/about-competitions/competition-costumes/

ABBREVIATIONS OFTEN USED FOR COMPETITION LEVELS OR TEELIN COMPETITION CLASSES:

Beg – Beginner Grade competition level

Adv Beg (AB) – Advanced Beginner Grade competition level

AB/N – Advanced Beginner Grade and/or Novice Grade competition level

Nov (N) – Novice Grade competition level

N/PW – Novice Grade and/or Prizewinner Grade competition level

PW – Prizewinner Grade competition level

Prelim – Preliminary Championship competition level

Open – Open Championship competition level

ACRONYMS FOR ORGANIZATIONS AND CERTIFICATIONS:

CLRGAn Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha – the Irish Dancing Commission based in Dublin

TMRF – a teaching certificate awarded by CLRG to candidates who have shown a competence in teaching ceili dances as described in Ar Rince Foirne (the official guide to ceili dances)

TCRG – a teaching certificate awarded by CLRG to candidates who have shown a competence in teaching the ceili dances as described in Ar Rince Foirne and have also shown a competence in teaching solo dancers

ADCRG – a certificate awarded by CLRG to candidates who already hold TCRG certification and have shown a competence in adjudicating (judging) at official competitions

IDTANA – Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America

NAFC – North American Feis Commission

CCEComhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (bonus points if you can pronounce it: “KUHL-tus kul-tahri air-in”) – international organization of traditional Irish music enthusiasts; there is a feis in Maryland sponsored by the local branch of CCE (O’Neill Malcolm Branch), typically held the Sunday of Memorial Day, called the Comhaltas Irish Dance Festival (in Irish Gaelic, if a consonant is followed by “h” then that consonant is usually silent; thus the correct pronunciation of “Comhaltas” is “KUHL-tus”)

Bonus material…

WHY IS OUR SCHOOL NAMED TEELIN?

As the mother of three young girls, Brigid Berry spent countless hours driving her three daughters Eileen, Maureen, and Kathleen to Irish dance lessons, practices, competitions, and performances. (Sound familiar, parents?!) Years later, when Maureen had the opportunity to establish her own school of Irish dance, she decided to honor her mother by using the name of Brigid’s birthplace, the village of Teelin, Co. Donegal.

Teelin (Teileann) is a small coastal village in the northern part of Ireland well known for its unspoiled beauty. Teelin has a rich tradition of music and song; it is also one of Ireland’s unique Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) regions. The village lies on the west side of Teelin Bay where a rough road, called pilgrim’s path, leads to Carrigan Head and Bunglass, the starting point of Slieve League (Sliabh Liag).

The cliffs of Slieve League are the highest maritime cliffs in all of Europe. They rise 2,000 feet above the crashing Atlantic Ocean. (Think of that powerful sound when you’re dancing hard shoe steps!) Some say that on a clear day you can see a third of all of Ireland from the summit of these spectacular, colorful sea cliffs.

The village of Teelin has been called “Teileann an tSeanchias agus an Cheoil”, which means “Teelin of Tradition and Music”. Here in Maryland, we connect ourselves to those roots through the expression of dance – bringing music to life.