The Ryan School of Irish Dance teaches more than Irish jigs

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NEW ORLEANS — On St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans, everyone is Irish–or, at least, that’s what their “Kiss Me. I’m Irish.” t-shirts claim. But, that doesn’t mean they know how to do an Irish dance.

“The jig is not the only dance we do, first of all,” Joseph Ledesma says laughing. “And, second of all, it’s not clogging. They are two completely different things.”

Ledesma is an instructor a the Ryan School of Irish Dance. He and instructor Sara Adoue say those are two of the common misconceptions about Irish dance.

“People just think we have the tap-like shoes–so, our hard shoes,” says Adoue. “But, we also have our ghillies, which are our more ballet-type slipper shoes. So, those don’t make noise.”

The Ryan School of Irish Dance is performing Sunday, March 15, at the Deutsches Haus St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Saturday, March 21, at the German Coast Farmers Market in Destrehan.

Of course, they do teach jigs and Irish step dance–for fun and for competition.

“Everyone has to know what they are doing,” says dancer Sarah Taylor. “You kind of have to be independent while working as a team. You have to make sure, for yourself, you’re in the right spot. You’re in a line. You’re lined up with the next person.”

When they compete, the dancers say they must pay attention to every detail, no matter how small.

“The main thing that you would see if you are just watching is that we don’t use our arms,” explains dancer Lilly Gorman. “When we are dancing, our arms are here. [She places her arms to her side.] We put our shoulders back.”

When they dance, they are not only dancing for the judges.

“It’s something where you can make a lot of friends,” says Gorman. “You can meet people at the different competitions. You see each other every year you come back. And, you have people that you know. Also, it’s just really fun.”

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