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Inis Cairde School of Irish Dance

2017 Oireachtas Teams Page

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Week of Nov. 19, 2017

Hi all, busy week, so I'll update this in stages. This page is a little bit of a mess momentarily, but I wanted to make sure I got these videos up.


Here's the new 4H walk-on that all of the teams will be doing. Please practice this on your own so that you know it cold. 

The 8H walk-on will stay the same as we've always done it.

Week of 11/19/17
Week of 9/3/17
Week of 9/10/17
Week of 9/17/17
Week of 9/24/17
Week of 10/8/17
Week of 10/15/17
Week of 11/5/17


Today we got through the 4H through Down the Center, and the Cross Reel through the Full Chain.

4H Pinwheel ("Right Hands Across") counts are as follows:

  • all move into a plus position on 1, the change from sevens to skips is again a jump off of two straight legs followed by a stretch on the "&"

  • hands up and hold the plus on 2, gents take right hands on top of the pinwheel and ladies catch hands just underneath

  • move around halfway 3 and hold your position on 4

  • drop and turn in place sharply 5

  • hands up and move 6

  • drop 7 and head into place

  • face partner in home spot on 8

4H down the Center:

same counts as before with the following style notes:

  • when you hold your partner's hand across from you, be sure to cross your arm across your body a bit so that your right hand lines up with the center of your chest. If the right hand goes straight out from your shoulder, you will not be able to line your shoulders up with your partner.

  • when couples hold hands across, the elbow should be soft and the angle at the elbow very open.

  • whichever couple goes up the outside must catch promptly to the side on the odd number of the first skip after the seven.

  • couples must undercut the half turn so that their body doesn't rotate past the point of lining up with their partner.

Cross Reel Extended Sides

Please note the new counts in the second half, where the final right arm comes up on 6 as the other drops, partners catch coming home in the plus (instead of the box) on 7, and face each other 8:

  • Cross Reel Full Chain

  • Similar to the one in St. Patrick's Day, except 16 bars instead of 14 as follows:

  • start facing partner with right hands

  • move past partner and raise left hand on 1

  • catch left hands 2 for 1.5 bars

  • catch right on 3 + for 1.5 bars

  • catch left on 5 for two full bars

  • catch right w partner on 7 for two full bars

  • to get home, catches are all 1.5 bars apart

  • L on 1

  • R on 2 +

  • L on 4

  • R with partner on 5 +

  • turn into place facing across for the Gents Interlace


Hi ladies,

The majority of the day today was spent on restyling the right and left chain in the 4H. Despite a number of different approaches, nothing was quite perfect, so we eventually moved onto the 8H, starting with the Full Chain.

We then moved onto the Gents Interlace, and the counts are as follows:

  • gents move 1, ladies skip in place

  • gents continue around lady on their right on 2, ladies move left in place

  • gents continue around to the center 3, ladies quarter turn right

  • take hands in a plus on 4

  • turn 5

  • drop 6

  • gents head to the center while ladies skip in place 7

  • gents take right hands in the pinwheel and pause 8

  • gents skip around the pinwheel 1

  • drop hands 2

  • take hands with same lady and turn 3-4

  • drop 5

  • gents head home 6, ladies shift to the inside

  • catch hands in the plus 7

  • ladies turn in on 8 


Busy day today! Good work, everyone.

We started with the Cross Reel, by going over the Gents Interlace first, then learning the Back to Back, Exchange Places, and Second Figure. We also reviewed the walk-on and the bow.

Here's the walk-on and the bow first:

Next was a review of the Gents Interlace; please see the notes from 9/17/17 for a video of the U15 team dancing that movement.

Below is a video of the Back-to-Back into Exchange Places. Key things to remember:

  • On the back-to-back, everyone dances the 7 on the left foot

  • after the second back 2 3 in the two squares, plant 3 so that you can jump off of two feet into the skips. No change foots!

  • The drop is on 6 &; lift hands slightly on 6 to drop on the &.

  • Side gents, make sure you get home really fast because the side lady has the hardest traffic pattern.

  • In Exchange Places, if you are passing in front, cut in a little bit so that the pair behind you has a shot at making in to their place.

  • straight legged jumps into all sevens

  • stretch front foot in sevens (this movement is really rough on all of the videos, be sure to check your own feet.

Here's the second figure by itself, counts as follows:

  • hands up 1

  • around 2-3

  • hands down 4 into pinwheel

  • pinwheel arms 5-6

  • keep own partner's hand and head home 7

  • into place 8

  • eight-bar dance around

Next, we have the entire Cross Reel from start to finish, O15 and U15:

Ok, individual 4H teams all the way through. If I have time this week, I'll post individual feedback, but I'd like you to watch yourselves very hard in here to see where your arms are off, where your footwork needs to be cleaner, where your spacing is off, and to review the counts before the feis Saturday:

O15 4H A:

O15 4H B:

U15 4H A:

U15 4H B:

U15 4H C:

Week of 10/22/17

After working on these two pieces in the 8H, we switched to the 4H to translate the changes particularly from the Lead Around into the smaller format, which I think looks really nice!

Here are two different videos of the fours doing the Lead Around:

We finished practice by having both teams go through the movements we worked on in a row to music. I really love this styling and I know the teams are going to be even more beautiful than at ROI!


Great work today, ladies! As we did last week, we spent the first hour on footwork drills similar to those we do in our regular championship classes. Goals are to:

  • stretch both front and standing leg, turnout back foot and stay off back heel on "&"

  • step out onto a straight leg with foot turned out and back leg moving fast on "1"

  • stretch front and back leg as for the first "&" on "2"

  • lift back leg quickly with correctly crossed knees, straight standing leg and pointed feet on "3"

  • repeat

Here's a drill we did and watched in slow motion to help with footwork.


NOTE: the video will only play in real time on mobile devices. To watch in slow motion on your desktop, go to the Settings Gear, and hover over "Speed." Above "Normal," choose "0.5," and you'll be able to watch the drill slowly:

Cross Reel Lead Around:

We styled the Lead Around this time as follows:

  • Gents head closer to the center and stay in the plus for the first half

  • hold "6" in the plus

  • on "7," move away from partner (so that you don't kick each other on the "out") and drop hands

  • turn on "8"

  • gents head to the center again

  • this time move out from the plus, move away from partner and drop hands on "6" instead of "7"

  • on "7" turn into place

  • hold on "8" and plant back foot for new transition jumping off of two feet into the seven:

Cross Reel Extended Sides:

Styled as follows:

  • the jump into the seven is now a straight-leg jump to two feet, switching feet if necessary 

  • sevens must be executed with the back leg moving quickly and the front leg stretching, as in "drag" and "1 2" for solos

  • leg swings up straight into "back 2 3," and stretch front leg on the "2" of "back 2 3"

  • straight leg jump into the second seven

  • counts to head home are raise arm slowly "1" 

  • catch and quarter turn to the plus on "2"

  • hands down and stay put on "3"

  • move slowly and hands up for all of "4"

  • catch "5"

  • drop and move "6"

  • catch partner in the plus "7"

  • very slow quarter turn into the place with ladies facing out on "8"

Lastly, 4H Lead Around, Square, Four Sevens:

4H Teams are as follows:

O15 Team A: Bella, Colleen, Caroline, Sammy

O15 Team B: Megan, Layla, Kelly Ann, Delaney

U15 Team A: Annika, Tessa, Francesca, Claire

U15 Team B: Peyton, Caitlyn, Lizzy, Nina

U15 Team C: Madeline, Evelyn, Hermione, Ella

U12 Team A: Mimi, Sophie, Molly, Evie (Thursday)

U10 Team TBA (Thursday)

​General notes for the first three movements of the 4H:

  • Lead around as in Cross Reel

  • transition to square as in the Cross Reel (straight leg jump)

  • transition to four sevens same as square

All footwork and arm positions the same as the 8H:

Week of 11/5/17

Thanks to all of you for a great practice last night, especially those of you who were able to make it home from the feis in time. I appreciate your all being flexible with the time change.

We used last night's practice to decipher and implement Francis's feedback from last Saturday on the movements we were able to get through with him, as well as translating the concepts into the movements that time didn't permit us to get through.

One very important piece of footwork we picked up from Francis had to do with skipping in place, and it's just the way you do in your light shoe in both time signatures: point up down. Here's a drill we did in place to work on it, concentrating on straight back knee, curled toes, and heels pulled up at the back. 

Be sure to click the gear icon and watch it at .5 speed:

We then set about deconstructing the lead around, and here are the major changes:

  • at the very start, point on 7, raise up and bring the front foot in 3/4 of the way on 8 to show off toepoint

  • take off on the 1 from the back foot only, the way you do in solos

  • gents come away from the center the way we've always done the lead around until this year instead of staying in the plus and moving sideways

  • point up down skips are done on the 6, 7, and 8 of the first set of 8

  • arm goes down forward on 7, and take your time so it looks controlled

  • turn happens on 8, so wait for it!

  • Second half is exactly the same as the first, except that there is only one skip in place on the 6

Here's a video of the senior team doing it without the music:

We then went after the second half of Extended Sides as follows:

  • take hands still on 2, but move through 2-3 without pausing

  • let go 4 with gents' arms going forward, and partners nearly already past each other

  • curve to catch in a diamond shape on 5, then straight through to partner 6, curving again so that you don't get there early

Here are the seniors doing Extended Sides:

We then turned out attention to the Full Chain, which we've tried about 25 different ways, and today was another! Also my favorite so far. 

  • all pass partner on 1 without letting go, take left hands on 2 and pause for 1 bar (this is NOT a skip in place)

  • advance through the chain, keeping an eye across the square and taking approximately 2 bars per turn

  • take partner's hand on the opposite side of the square on 8, take left hands and pause on 1, and this one IS a skip in place

  • continue to chain around until you get back to your partner on 6, dropping the other hand

  • ladies now face OUT on 8 instead of turning in

Here are two different videos without music:


Super special treat this week, thanks to Rebecca Sykes: we get to see a video of how our eight-hand teams danced at ROI! It's so helpful to be able to watch a replay and talk through the things that went well and those that need some work.

Overall I felt that the teams were noticeably better than in Greensboro, especially the fours, on which we've spent quite a bit of practice time over the past three weeks. While I'm sure that dancing earlier than 8:30pm was a small contributing factor, the hard work you've all put in over the past three weeks gets to take the majority of the credit. I was very pleased with how everyone looked yesterday.

Based on the video, we spent a good portion of practice today on the Cross Reel and a few of the less seamless transitions, including from Extended Sides in the Full Chain, the Back-to-Back, and then dissected the Full Chain with all of our teams and subs. Here's the video from Saturday: 

We started practice by watching the two eights, and then started with the transition from Extended Sides into the Full Chain. On the first half of Extended Sides, concentrate on curling the toes whenever the front leg is off the floor in your sevens, and make sure that the initial jump is done with feet together (no straddle jumps).

On the second half, dancers all need to take their time releasing arms, and then use the entire bar of 7 to turn smoothly into place facing their partners. No whipping ponytails! Think smooth. The following is NOT what we are going for:

I didn't get a video of the teams turning to face each other, but hopefully the Shrek reference will help you all remember :)

The second thing we worked on was the spacing in the chain, which we have trialed in different formats every year. 

Today our biggest goal was to eliminate that aspect where your shoulder turning away from your next partner and affects the momentum of each turn.


In order to do that, we adjusted the timing of the box vs diamond so that the "check" in either shape is actually BEFORE your catch hands, rather than right AS you catch hands.


We didn't remove the reference point across the square completely, we just moved it up one beat (so if you catch on 2 &, you look on 2, but catch already progressing through the turn on the & itself).

The actual position of the catch consequently becomes more like a plus or an X. Here are some examples, and while it's a work in progress, in all three teams you can really see where that shoulder turning away too late affects the next line with your partner.

O15 from the corner:

U15 from the corner:

U15 with subs from the front:

I'm jumping out of order, but the next single movement that we did by itself was the second figure. The two oireachtas teams are rotating differently from each other, and at our next practice we need to start by mixing up the gents and ladies from the two teams and getting everyone on the same pace of rotation.


It's very different from the second figure of the four-hand because the loop around is so much bigger. In the 4H, there's a pause on 1, and in the 8H, all four of you need to really book it on 1. We also need work on keeping arms and shoulders super stiff in both couples on the U15 team.


Here's O15 doing the second figure: 

During practice we also ran the entire dance from start to finish, and the senior team has requested to work on both the walk-on and the bow because they apparently did not go smoothly this weekend. Next practice: walk-on and bow :)


Here's O15 doing the entire dance from start to finish: 

And here's U15 doing the whole dance. Keep in mind that Caroline was in dancing for Nina today, and that the second figure was markedly better yesterday with the four on this team who usually do it together. We will work on it:

We finished up by running through the fours, and getting Sophie acclimated to her now position as top gent instead of top lady. Thanks for a great practice, everyone, and I was really proud of you all yesterday at ROI.

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