One of the moves in Irish dance that any dancer will do predominantly from beginner to championship is the Irish Leap. At the Shelley School we call it the Leap-23, referring to the 2 steps taken after the initial leaping motion.
The move is taught to beginner Irish dancers within the first 5 classes. It is one of the only moves I know that can within seconds make the level of any Irish dancer clear to an educated audience. I’ve helped teach basic level classes the past couple years and I always find myself excited to see the look on the dancers faces when they see a championship dancer demonstrate the same move they just learned.
Probably the number one question I hear from beginner and novice dancers is, “How do you get your leap to freeze like that?” I admit it’s something that takes years to really perfect, which is probably why we learn how to do a leap so early, but the best answer I can give to them is momentum. I make sure I have plenty of space in front of me and put all my strength into leading into the leap. Then, by the time I make the jump, I’m able to jump higher than I normally could and therefore have time to pause, or freeze in the air for a split second. When I don’t have enough momentum, my leaps are not as strong.
Having a graceful, strong, 90 degree angle leap can make any beginner dancer look like a champ. The steps are very basic, it’s all about what you put into it!
In this video, Elizabeth Claro gives a beautiful demonstration of freezing an Irish dance leap. Notice how she anticipates the leap, giving herself enough momentum beforehand.