Do you have the luck of the Irish? If not, that’s OK. You can still dance like them. What are we talking about? The jig, of course!
The jig is a joyful, lively dance traditionally performed by large groups of people at Irish celebrations. The word “jig” is of uncertain origin. Some believe it comes from the French word giguer, which means “to jump.” Others believe it comes from the Italian word giga, which refers to a folk dance to a short piece of music.
Any time the Irish gather together in large groups with music, a party atmosphere is likely to break out. Queue up some lively Irish music and it won’t be long before people are doing a jig. Jigs are characterized by lots of quick leg movements and heel stomping.
The jig has a long history. Some historians believe it began as a popular folk dance as far back as the 1500s. The earliest forms of the jig were probably performed to fiddle music. Early jig dancers would keep their upper body very rigid in order to allow those watching to concentrate on the quick, intricate footwork.
The fast footwork involved in the jig has led to the development of many other types of “step” dances throughout Ireland. Jig and Irish step dance competitions became popular and helped spread the jig to other countries, including Great Britain, France, and Spain.
Doing a jig will definitely give you a workout. Jigs are usually accompanied by fast-paced music. In addition, many jig competitions encourage dancers to improvise their own dance moves. The dancer who can outlast all the others is often crowned the champion.
The Irish jig has inspired similar dances in many countries around the world. For example, in the United States, clog dancing traces its roots back to the jig and other Irish folk dances.