Dancing Harpists?

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    Janna B.

    I was wondering how many of you harpists dance?

    Irene C


    I used to dance with a folk dance troupe, I loved it and I was good at it.

    Fairy Reel

    Hey, Janna,

    I dance (Irish Dance) and I’m actually pretty good. I’ve been dancing as long as playing the harp, though I have been taking lessons longer for dancing. If you’re familiar with ID, then I’m Novice/Prizewinner.

    The cool thing with Irish dance comptitions is they have live music, as well as music competitions, and I definitely think that has helped me to become a better musician.

    With both dancing and music, I play by ear a lot. With hard shoe dances, if I remember what the rhythm sounds like, then I can dance it. If I remember how my teacher played the grace notes,

    Janna B.

    Thanks for your responses.

    J P

    I personally prefer pole dancing but that’s just me.. 😀


    Martini time again is it?



    I’ve danced in the morning when the Ren Faire was begun…

    There I was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival as a street musician (subbing for a guit-picker) in full skirted garb with a tiny harp snugged in a knotted shawl to play standing up (this was pre-harpsicles), when fiddler Cathy Palmer says, “Oh by the way, Mary, we have a dance routine for this set of tunes..” “We WHAT!?! says I?” Sure, says she: step, step, step, turn twice, step, step, step, slide right, slide left, repeat… All this instruction while jamming on dance tunes with half the harp tuned in one key, the other half in the upcoming key, finding the chords on the fly by ear.

    Not quite like Monty Python’s Yellowbeard (stagger, stagger, crawl, crawl), but it sure felt like it at the time.

    Fun, though. Yes, all those lessons at junior high cotillion came in handy. You never know what will be useful, you never know where your career might take you. Being able to count, having a good sense of rhythm & timing from dancing – perhaps think of it as cross-training for musicians.


    Hi Janna,

    I had 12 years of ballet and jazz.

    Fearghal McCartan


    Brandee Younger

    Apparently, dancing REALLY helps with your rhythm! Jazz, tap, African, even pole dancing, JP, lol–anything with lots of different rhythms.


    ballet, jazz, ballroom, tap, folk dance, in about that order. To me, playing is dancing.


    I have never danced, although I really admire ballroom dancing and classical dance. My harp teacher and another harp teacher I know were both in ballet.
    I think of a lot of music (especially 20th century) in terms of dance or movement, which helps me with phrasing and things like that. Of course, I try not to dance while playing…in fact I don’t like to move too much 🙂 I also think that ballet had a significant impact on Salzedo technique (especially through Nijinksy), and I find that fascinating and creative. Harp is an instrument that requires a certain amount of choreography, with pedals/levers and moving around the strings. When I carefully coordinate all my movements with what I’m playing, it helps my rhythm and helps me tie the piece together. I think in that aspect, dance can help with harp playing.


    I did ballet when I was a kid, then did five years of flamenco as an adult. I believe that dancing helps develop good rhythm. However, you need good balance to maintain your rhythm while you’re dancing! If you have to put a foot down to stop yourself from keeling over, a 4/4 can turn into a 5/8! Dance is good for all sorts of things: grace, posture, health, not to mention an enhanced understanding of dance music. And it’s so much fun!


    I used to dance, first ballet, then modern, and then Irish Dancing. I really loved Irish Dancing the most, because Ireland and Irish music and culture has been my passion since I was about twelve or thirteen. Sadly, I had to stop dancing at 18 because I didn’t have the time because of all the preparations I had to do for the final exams at high school, but I will always have a great passion for Irish Dancing.

    I struggle with finding the rhythm when playing music, which I didn’t when I was dancing, but that may be because I’m better at hearing a rhythm than I am at creating one. For instant, I couldn’t keep my rhythm when dancing without any music on.

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