About Northern Lights Celtic Dancers


Two of our youth dancersThe mission of NLCD is to promote Irish Dancing in the form of step dancing, Ceili dancing, and team dancing. Dancers have the opportunity to learn solo and team dances. These dances are often performed in competition (feis) or public performances.

NLCD encourages all students and families to respect the dignity and diversity of our members. NLCD provides instruction regardless of a person’s religion, sex or ethnic background. NLCD performs for a number of functions in the greater Anchorage area. The highlight of our performances is around St. Patrick’s Day. Call us to book a performance for your event.

History of Irish Dance

Irish dance history has been recorded since the 1600’s. Dance teachers traveled to many locations teaching, performing, and holding “Ceili’s.” All throughout the US and the rest of the world, Irish dance teachers still teach and entertain. There are two characteristic forms of Irish dancing; solo dances and figure dances.

Solo Dances
Performed mainly in exhibition or competition, Solo dances require years of practice and a great deal of talent. It is a dance of simple and natural grace. Soft shoe solo dances include: Reels, Light Jigs, Single Jigs and Slip Jigs. Hard Shoe Solo Dances include: Hornpipes, Double Jigs and Set Dances.

Figure Dances
Figure dancing can be performed in a square, circle or line formation, and are composed of only a few simple steps. They are essentially the dances of Ireland and are competed in Beginner and Open Levels at Feiseana. Our students have learned the following figure dances: Two Hand Reels, Two Hand Jigs, Three Hand Reels, Four Hand Reels, Six Hand Reels (Fairy Reel, Harvest Time Jig) and Eight Hand Dances (High Caul Cap, Three Tunes, Eight Hand Jig, St Patrick’s Day.)

Irish Competitions
In order to establish rules for the teaching, judging and competitions, the Irish Dancing Commission, An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha, was formed in 1929. Other regional commissions, such as the North American Feis Commission established in 1968, provides oversight in each of their geographic areas.

A student who wants to embark on the road to a feis should start by enrolling in a step-dancing school run by a teacher who is certified by the Irish Dance Commission. There are different levels of certification, the first one being T.C.R.G., Teasgicoir Choimisiuin Le Rinci Gaelacha, or Irish Commission Dancing Teacher. A higher level that teachers go on to be certified in is A.D.C.R.G., Ard Diploma Choimisiuin Le Rinci Gaelacha, or Highest Diploma in Gaelic Dancing. Those who have achieved this are also qualified to serve as adjudicators for competitions.

There are several groups for competitors. The first division assigns them according to their experience level. In Open Feis there are five solo categories. These are open to more than one school.

  • First Feis: Students who have never been to a Feis.
  • Beginner 1: If a student wins 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a particular dance, a Beginner 1 may move to Beginner 2.
  • Beginner 2: A Beginner who wins 1st or 2nd place will advance to the Novice category in that particular dance.
  • Novice: If a Novice wins 1st place, they will advance to the Open (Prizewinner) category in that particular dance.
  • Open (Prizewinner): This is a competitor who does not qualify as a Beginner, Advanced Beginner, or as a Novice.
  • Adult Beginner: A competitor who has never taken Irish dancing as a juvenile and is 18 years old or older.

Dancers are divided according to age so that a nine year old would not compete directly with a 17 year old. Dancers usually compete in several dances, possibly in solo categories if they advance quicker in one dance than another.

When dancers reach the Championship levels, they compete in regional competitions that are known as “Oireachtas”, and then ultimately at the World Championships, often scheduled in Ireland. In 2015, the World Championships will be held in Montreal, Canada.

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