Step Dance

Step Dance


Step dance is characterized by percussive footwork with limited body and arm movements. Although Irish step dance has become wildly popular with Michael Flately's production of Riverdance over the past decade, the dance form has been evolving for centuries.

Another great period of development was during the eighteenth century when flamboyant dancing masters were prevalent in Ireland. The Irish dance master was a wandering dance teacher who traveled from village to village teaching dance to peasants. Several versions of the same dance were to be found in different parts of Ireland. In this way a rich heritage of Irish dances was assembled and modified over the centuries. This tradition continues today with teachers creating their own steps for their students.

In the late eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century immigrants from all over the British Isles began to settle on the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Atlantic Canada. Among other things, these settlers handed down to their children the memories of life in the old country which included step dancing. Children would pick up the dance form through every day exposure in their homes, most commonly in the kitchen to live music.

Step dancing remains a popular way for family and friends to socialize on Cape Breton Island. It is so popular that people travel from far away to attend ceilidhs and experience the dance and music first hand. Step dance in this part of the world has evolved into something that is unique to Cape Breton Island and has become a rich part of the Cape Breton heritage.

Heather's Offerings:

  • Large group instruction adhering to various aspects of school curriculum. Guided by fellowship with Extending the Dance Map, A Northern New England Rural Dance Project.
  • Instruction in percussive Celtic foot rhythms for the very young through adult.
  • Freedom to explore movement and sound while learning a rich cultural dance form.
  • Collaboration with talented local musicians for a fuller dance experience.

Testimonials regarding Step:

Irish performance:

“What a delightful afternoon you provided for us when you brought your students to perform their Irish dances. The children and older girls were so well trained and so obviously were enjoying their dancing. Not a single giggle all were pros! Please thank them for us and please come back again.” - Resident Social Committee at Cathedral Square.

Heather's teaching from parent's perspective:

“You are an inspiration to the girls. Thanks for such a fun and joyous year!”

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