Monday, September 07, 2009
I don't know too much about my father's ancestry. I do know that the name "Jordan" has origins in the UK, and that when I was young, I saw a lot of people with red hair and freckles at our family get-togethers. So I will go on the presumption that there is some smattering of Scotch or Irish ancestry in my blood.
That may explain my affinity for all things Celtic. Over the Labor Day weekend, my wife and I dropped in on the Irish Days celebration in Long Grove, Illinois. We took in some music, storytellers and dancers.
As far as I can tell, to be good at Irish step dancing, you need to keep your upper body nearly stationary while utilizing the universal joints in your ankles and knees to twist, kick and bend your lower extremities at impossible angles and at lightning speed. An ability to levitate is also helpful.
Oh, and to do everything while maintaining a bright smile on your face the entire time counts for bonus points.
A number of local Irish Dance studios stepped up and performed on a stage decked with a large flag of Ireland for a large crowd of appreciative folks who all claimed Irish ancestry, at least for a couple of days.
The challenge in photographing Irish dancing is to freeze the action while catching the steps at the peak of their action. Easier said than done. After watching a few dances (and just missing with dozens of shots), I got pretty good at anticipating when certains steps were coming up. I also shot several sequences where I simply tripped the shutter in time to the music, since the dance moves would coincide with the beat. Even so, several hundred exposures yielded just a handful of keepers.
There's another Irish Fest coming up this weekend in a nearby suburb. Maybe I'll try again to see if my right index finger can keep up with flying feet.
And I found this video that helps explain things a little:
Photographs © 2009 James Jordan.