Look, Mom, I Can Ceili

Saturday, December 02, 2006

James Madison University holds a ceili night...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This week I've been home with my family, and I told them about my ceili experience. My sister said that next time she comes to visit, she'd like to come with me to a ceili dance just to see what it's like. How funny is that - I don't know much about my heritage besides that I have a lot of Italian, some German and some Dutch. And here I am getting into Irish dances. Who would've thought? Jennifer said that the dancers don't really discuss their heritage, that it's not necessary, really. Whoever wants to dance can dance, whether they're Irish or not.

I found another blog about ceili dancing! It's a beginner's perspective, but they went to a ceili dance in a barn. It was interesting. I put the link on my sidebar with the others. I also found a link to a picture of ceili dancing in Cork, Ireland, where there are several festivals. This page had all sorts of link to even more ceili information - yay!

I like trying new things - the ceili experience turned out to be a lot more interesting than I thought it would... and the dance was pretty simple, but still fun! I'll have to email Jennifer and Kathryn and thank them for their help... it was really fun.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I just got back from the ceili dance; it was amazing! I can't believe how easy it was to get going!

I'll start from the beginning, though - I showed up a little bit early and asked Jennifer some questions. It turns out that she is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Columbia... just like me! She moved from Pheonix, Arizona, a couple of years ago. She had tap-danced and square-danced before, but she said she had never ceili danced before coming to Central Missouri. Of all places, this is where she got started! She was looking for new ways to get involved in the community and meet new people, and she found the Central Missouri Celtic Arts Association online. She took fiddle lessons and learned a little bit of the Irish language, so she thought she'd try ceili.

Now Jennifer hosts ceili dancing every Tuesday night. She was so friendly! All the dancers were - they didn't act superior to me at all, though it was obvious that they were much better than I was. There were eight of us all together (Jennifer, Katheryn, Joanne, Marie, Hank, Michael, Dan, and me). I felt really comfortable - it was like I was just with a group of random people working together to form a sort of synchronized movement... and, as I said, it was a lot easier than it looked.

The basic three-step even looks complicated - Jennifer, Katheryn, and Joanne showed me how to do it, and I just remember thinking, "no way... I couldn't do that." I think it's just that I don't really think I have any rhythm. I remember when my mother taught me to play "Heart N Soul" on the piano... I always liked doing the higher-pitched part because then she didn't have to count on me to keep the same rhythm over and over. My boyfriend in high school tried to teach me the drums... but then again, I had trouble repeating a same rhythm, keeping time. The three step requires one to keep rhythm with the music... and it looked harder than a simple clap or stomp. And the Rise and Grind? Forget it...

But Katheryn took my hand and told me that there was no reason to be intimidated. Before I knew it... I was a part of the ceili dance, I was moving like everyone else! And they were so encouraging, too... it was really great.

Jennifer has ceili every Tuesday... I would love to go on some sort of regular basis. I wonder if any of my friends would like to try it, too.

Tonight at 6:30pm... Ceili dance! I'm just excited to get started... I wonder who will be there? I wonder how old the people that are dancing will be... I guess it's just hard to picture anyone being young, in college or anything. I like meeting new people of all ages, though - it will be fun, I know it.

Monday, November 13, 2006


And... I'm a little nervous because... I knew I'd be dancing with other people, but ceili dance is apparently a partner dance, usually in large groups (groups of four or six or more). This could be good or bad, depending... it could be good because with a lot of people moving around, it's easier to blend in and my mistakes aren't so obvious... but it could be bad because if I mess up too bad, it messes everyone up! I'm sure everything will be fine.

I'm going to set up a camera and film everyone dancing... then I'll film me dancing with them! It should make for some interesting footage...

I called Jennifer to confirm directions... tomorrow night! Woo!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I posted the links to some of the things I found about ceili dancing... the Central Missouri Celtic Arts Association website is where I found out about Jennifer Kimball's dance night. I also contacted Katheryn DiFoxfire; she's going to be at Jennifer's ceili. She "calls" ceili dances all the time; this means that she calls out what the dancers need to do next in sequence to help them along. Some of the names for certain steps are funny, I learned, like "sheepskin hay" and "round the house" - it's intimidating, but I'm starting to get really intrigued by the whole thing. I guess I'll find out what all of this is next week!

Ceili dancing is based on "jigs" and "reels" (the music played while the dancers dance). Reels are faster, and are used in set dance, while ceilis seem to usually use jigs.

So - there's ceili dance and then there's set dance. I posted the information on what each of these are... apparently, set dancing is a little more complicated than ceili... from what I can tell, it seems to be faster and a little bit more like the Riverdance type of dancing... I don't know if I'd ever be ready for that!

Friday, November 10, 2006

I found some pictures that summarize what my initial impression of Ceili was... hmmm... not so much.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm going to go ahead and admit that my dancing experiences are limited to the Girl Scouts Father-Daughter Dance in fifth grade and the occasional loud music dance party in my garage... needless to say, I'm a little anxious about ceili. I mean, just last week, I was saying "see-lee" whenever I talked about it, until my friend Caitlin corrected me. How clueless can I be? (It's pronounced "kay-lee.") Well, I've decided to look up some things about ceili - I like to find out what I'm getting into.

I thought it might be difficult to get some background on ceili dancing... I mean, it's largely a retired practice, right? WRONG! I had no idea ceili was so big! Not only are there ceili events in Ireland and Scotland, but the United States has its own ceili culture, with festivals and dance-offs in metropolitan areas as well as rural towns like Columbia.

First of all, the Central Missouri Celtic Association offers ceili and set dancing almost once a month. Then there's more private dances, like the one in Jennifer Kimball's basement. She meets Tuesday night - I emailed her and asked if I could come along and tape some of her stuff. She was excited to hear that I'll be participating, too. They're always open to new dancers, she said. She has no idea that I'll most likely trip over myself or something... I'm going to go next week!