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North Van Irish dancers do dozens of jigs for St. Patty's Day
An Irish dance studio from North Vancouver is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a round of “front clicks,” “sevens” and “bicycles” at roughly 80 shows booked around March 17.
Ranging in age from six to 24, the Eire Born Irish Dancers from Nora Pickett Irish Dance Academy have a busy week of performing during CelticFest Vancouver and other St. Patty’s celebrations at Lower Mainland pubs, community centres and seniors homes. In total, the group consists of 50 dancers divided into seven troops.
“The majority of the youngest dancers are drawn to the lively music and the intricate foot movements,” says instructor Nora Pickett, who began Irish dancing at just seven years old. Her two daughters began learning the steps as toddlers.
“There is a lot of jumping and loud rhythm on the floor,” she explains.
“They can feel the music in their spirit, the power of their legs moving and making all the cool rhythms.”
The energetic sound comes from the dancers’ “heavy shoes” with fiberglass tips and leather tops.
CelticFest Vancouver’s 10th annual parade, which runs through downtown Vancouver on March 16 starting at 11 a.m., is one of the Eire Born Irish Dancers biggest shows.
Organizers expect 200,000 people to line the streets to watch the (very green) pipe-and-drum bands, Celtic musicians, acrobats and vintage cars. The complete festival runs from March 8 to 16 at Celtic Village and Street Market, which fills Granville Street between Robson and Nelson, as well as Robson Square.
Irish dancing has spread quickly across North America in the last 10 years, says Pickett, who took part in many of the most acclaimed championships during her 18 years as a competitive dancer.
“My mom asked me when I was just about seven if I wanted to do Irish dancing, compete, win medals and trophies and be on stage. I still remember when she asked me and I thought it sounded really exciting,” she says.
This year’s St. Patrick’s Day lands on a Monday so many of the events the Eire Born Irish Dancers participate in take place over the weekend.
“Everyone should come out and enjoy the whole St. Patty’s Day experience. It’s really fun, a great social environment and a chance to see kids really loving Irish dance,” says Pickett.
“There’s nothing like a child performing to a cheering audience. It inspires them to dance even better.”
On the North Shore, the Eire Born Irish Dancers are performing for the public at Lonsdale Quay’s rotunda on March 16 at 1 p.m. and at Raven Pub in Deep Cove that evening. For their complete show schedule go to www.eireborn.net.