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The History of the Irish Jig

Ireland’s staple folk dance, the jig is lively and fun, known for its quick stepping and jumping routines. While the word “jig” comes from the French word “giguer,” meaning “jump,” the dance originated in England in the 16th Century, and was introduced to Ireland a hundred years later by traveling dance masters who spread the dance throughout Ireland and Scotland. These masters had a number of dances, including the reel, the hornpipe, and the polka, but it was the jig that became the most popular, and hence, synonymous with Irish dancing. There are a few jigs that are most widely known: the light jig, the slip jig, the single and double jigs, the hop jig, and the treble jig. Each is a variation on this rapid step dance. Here are three of them.

The Light Jig

The second fastest of all the jigs, the light jig has a few variations of its own, but all light jigs have the standard rising step, or rise and grind. A right side light jig has your weight on your left foot with your right foot off the ground. Your left foot hops, while your right foot, still in the air, quickly swings in front of your left leg and then behind it in a kind of kick. The natural switch to the left side light jig would do the same, but with the opposite feet. The result is an elegant-looking hopping step that switches seamlessly from foot to foot.

The Slip Jig

Performed almost entirely on the toes, the slip jig is also known as the “ballet of Irish dance.” You prance across the floor somewhat like a bourrée in actual ballet, only much faster, with longer strides. This makes you appear to glide, which is where the slip jig gets its name. It typically ends in a high kick. 

The Treble Jig

Also known as the “hard jig” or “heavy jig,” the treble most resembles modern popular tap dancing. With an elaborate array of stomps, clicks, and switches. It’s one of the most difficult to learn, but also one of the most fun.

The Irish jig is beautiful and graceful, despite its almost complete restriction to the feet and legs. It emphasizes poise and discipline, while still remaining lively and fun. The Arthur Murray Dance Studio can show you just how enjoyable the Irish jig can be. Call to find out!

Call Arthur Murray and you’ll see just how this is done! Dance on it to our location at: 1711 N College Ave, Bloomington, IN 47404.  Or call us at: (812) 334-0553.

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