Learning the language of Irish dance- definitions of common Irish dance words, terms, and steps


"Sevens" are similar to what most people called grapevines as far as a dance move. Done with good turn out, they are easy to spot. You can sometimes hear kids praciticing. The words will be similar to this run of steps: "Beat, two, three, four, five, six, seven." That'd be a "beat" into "sevens". The numbers correlate with the steps sideways in a back-stepping grapevine kind of move.

"Lifts" are a high, straight, one-legged kick that show flexibility and grace.

Now, we get a little more difficult. The next step that one hears often is called "overs" or an "over". It is a leap with one foot tucked squarely under the bum. Very hard to do with arms straight at the sides while trying to keep back straight also and getting good height.
The phot below is of a fabulous "over" done in the great out-doors of Ireland by Damon of Georgia when he was in Dublin to compete at the 2011 World Championships of Irish Dance.

There are double clicks that are done by boys in both their hard and light shoes and girls in their hard shoes. The double clicks have the dancer going straight up while keeping their feet in good turn out clicking their heels quite quickly. Easier to see in motion than explained or photographed.

Then there are front clicks that look like a great, high scissors kick with a click of the hard heels of the shoes when the feet pass eachother. Quite dramatic. Also a hard move to photograph, but here's a good shot of Neil of South Africa in the middle of doing a front click.

I'm sure there are steps that I'm leaving out, but these should get you to feeling like you know what people are talking about when they start throwing about these terms and steps and words.

Oh! And "bicycles"! You'll know them when you see them. They are super fast and look like the dancer is doing a quick pedalling of a bicycle in mid-air.

Just for good measure, here's one more step that's very dramatic and on the more difficult end of things if done correctly. The step is called a "hit-it-through". If you've got a different name for it, please let me know. It's yet another Irish dance step that doesn't photograph well as it's in motion, but this photo is a great example of a fabulous "hit-it-through" by Zane of North Carolina.

I'm sure with regional differences, these steps and terms and words might be a tad bit different in different areas. It's always interesting to hear the differences when I've come across them.
Enjoy your new Irish dance language. It's a fabulous world of really fun-loving, friendly people. You'll fit right in.

Happy feising!!