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Dancing in the Streets...Irish Style

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WHEN you walk down the street, do you ever break into a skip or a hop? Or notice that sometimes you walk to a beat? Well, that means you've got rhythm. And if you've got rhythm, you're one step away from dancing.

Dancing is a special way people show how they feel. And when people dance, they usually feel good. Try dancing to a song and at the same time try to feel angry or sad. You may be surprised to find that you have to be happy to dance, and dancing can even make you happier!

In countries throughout the world, people have danced in their own special ways for many years. In some countries, it might be called "native dancing" or "folk dancing," and that means everybody dances, not just people who have special training.

In Ireland, children are taught to dance as part of their regular study program in school. When dancing is taught in school it becomes a skill and not just a hop, skip, and a jump!

First, the children learn to stand up straight, eyes forward (not down at their feet), and arms straight at their sides. Then they are taught a series of steps that keep exact time with each note of the music. This is called "step dancing." As the steps are learned, the children usually develop quick timing so that their dancing is fast, precise, and snappy. After a child masters certain steps, he or she dances with a partner or group in perfect time with other dancers and the music. This develops team s pirit along with the lively grace of body movement.

Because so many Irish people have settled in the Boston area in the United States, you can see their dances performed on special holidays and at celebrations. The pictures on this page show a group who take classes with a professional teacher named Rita O'Shea, who grew up in Galway, Ireland.


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