Fancy footwork

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McTeggart Irish Dancers step it up for the love of traditional dance

By Ramsey Scott

There’s no need to move your arms when your feet are this fast. But smiling is encouraged. 


A group of performers from McTeggart Irish Dancers, an academy with a school in south Littleton, danced a few jigs Sunday at Bemis Library to ring in St. Patrick’s Day a little early. 

While Irish dancing is known for fancy footwork but not a lot of upper-body movement, teacher Anne Babcock said Irish dancers have to use their entire bodies to perform the fast moves and high kicks featured in the traditional dance. 

“It’s funny, because we do use our arms a lot,” Babcock said of the disarming misconception about Irish dance. “If you learn Irish dancing, you find you use your arms and upper body to allow your legs to do a lot of the moves. And you have to make sure when you’re dancing that your arm movements are in sync with the other performers.” 

Babcock knows a thing or two about Irish dancing. She was part of the first class of dancers when McTeggart first opened in the early ’80s, and she’s been dancing jigs ever since. Her love for the art led her to teach the next generation of dancers. 

“It’s not an easy form of dance. Seeing them accomplish it when they’re on stage, I sit with a smile on my face the whole time,” Babcock said. “It’s just the love of it. It gets into your blood. It’s special.”

That love of dance was passed down to Babcock’s daughter, 15-year-old Kelly, who’s part of the school’s performing group and has been studying Irish dance for seven years.  

“(My mom) told me all about it when I was younger, and that’s what got me started,” Kelly said. “I absolutely love it. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have it.”

Kelly said part of her love for Irish dancing comes from performing with the other dancers, who are fast friends. 

“We’ve been dancing forever together,” Kelly said. “I love them. It’s hard not to smile.”

Don Hartung, who attended the performance, was impressed with the talent of the dancers, especially with their tapping.

“I used to do professional tap-dancing,” Hartung said. “In my experience, they were very good.”

Hartung said there’s something about the music and the motion that make it hard for spectators not to smile. 

For dancer Miranda Loughry, 14, it’s hard not to have a smile on her own face while performing. 

Miranda has been performing Irish dance since she was 4 years old. Her family hails from Ireland, and she feels a special connection with her past when she dances.

Yet that family connection doesn’t make the dancing any easier.

“You have to have a lot of stamina to do this. It takes a lot of work to make the dances look effortless,” Miranda said. “But I love it. I love being able to perform and brighten people’s days a little bit.”

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Visit www.columbinecourier.com.