NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Rince na Chroi Irish Dance Saturday February 19

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St. Patrick’s Day is approaching. I can almost hear the pipes calling and the dancers clogging. Actually I do hear the dancers clogging as my youngest daughter Aine prepares for her Irish dancing debut on Saturday.

On Saturday February 19 (at 7:00 pm) Rince na Chroi, a St. Paul-based Irish dance school, will kick off the Irish-festival season with its sixth annual concert, From the Stage to Your Heart, at St. Catherine’s University’s O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. The performance will feature the fast-paced Irish dancing of all 170 Rince na Chroi dancers, from toddlers through adults, accompanied by the Two Tap Trio dance band. Well-known local, Irish personality Kieran Folliard, of Cara Irish Pubs (The Liffey, Keiran’s and The Local) will MC the event.

Rince na Chroi (pronounced Rink-a na Cree) is Gaelic for “dance of the heart.” Katie Stephens Spangler founded the St. Paul-based Irish dance school in February of 2003. Since Rince na Chroi opened its doors, they have grown from about 15 Irish dancers to more than 150.  In the past few years, the group has performed all over the Twin Cities, including appearances in places like the Landmark Center, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and the Guthrie Theater.

This will be their first big concert at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. The move was born out of need – with three sold out shows at a smaller venue last year. Now, they can accommodate a much larger audience with the ambitious move to the nearly 2,000-seat O’Shaughnessy, and will offer tickets at three price levels. Tickets are still available if you want to get in the mood for St Patrick’s Day next month.

For Irish dance aficionados, Minnesota has a wealth of Irish dance schools and performers, most of them located around the Twin Cities. Next month the Irish Music & Dance Association is hosting a Day of Dance on March 13 from 11am to 5pm at Landmark Center. It will be a wild, family-friendly but crazy day of high kicks and stiff arms. One note of trivia – do you know why Irish dance is all in the legs and the arms are kept straight at your sides?

Because Irish Dance was forbidden during the time of the Penal Laws (when Irish culture was being suppressed). So the dance moved indoors, but there was a danger of being seen through the window. So dancers learned to keep their arms still, that way it might look as if they were moving – but not dancing.

Rince na Chroi Irish Dancers

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