Step of the Irish: Celtic Grace Dance Troupe

“One, two, three, hop back. One, two, three, hop back.”

The chant echoes through the dance studio, keeping rhythm with the traditional Irish music playing in the background.

Four members of the Celtic Grace Dance Troupe – an Irish step dancing club on campus – led a workshop of students in different dance steps March 11.

Meredith Miller and Courtney Webb started the club, which now has 15 members, earlier this year.

“It wasn’t really until this semester that we got a lot more members,” said Webb, a sophomore civil and environmental engineering major. “So this is our first big event as a dance troupe.”

Webb and Miller met through a mutual friend and decided to start the club because there was previously no outlet for Irish dancing at the University of Maryland. Before meeting to start the club, Webb had competed against Miller, a sophomore chemistry major, as they are both from the state of Maryland.

Recruiting has been the biggest issue for the girls.

“Well there aren’t a whole lot of Irish dancers,” Miller said. “We’re a pretty small community.”

They’ve expanded this semester and hope to be able to perform by the end of the year.

“Eventually we want to be able to perform together, but right now since we’re just a new club, we’ve only really practiced together,” Miller said.

They get together and practice once a week in a studio in Preinkert Field House. In the future they hope to be able to practice more often and hold more events.

The dance workshop, held in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, was their first big event as a group.  The four girls in the club – Webb and Miller, along with members Cierra O’Keefe and Nora McCann – taught basic Irish step dancing steps and rules to the students who came.

The entire dance is done on tiptoe, so anyone who came out likely left with sore calves and an Irish tune stuck in their head.