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Here are some light-hearted notes from Feiswear which we hope might be useful in assisting would-be candidates who are planning to take the TCRG Exam.

In order to qualify as an Irish dancing teacher one must pass an examination with An Coimisiun to gain the TCRG (Teastas Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha) qualification which simply means in English translation - The Irish Dancing Commission Certificate. There is no formal course prior to taking the exam and candidates largely study individually. All applicants must be recommended by a registered teacher or adjudicator.

Examiners require you to be able to demonstrate the ability to teach two solo steps to dancers of differing standards as well as teach a ceili team (up to 16 dancers) any one of the 30 ceili (team) dances. You must also be able to identify all of the solo set dances (around 36 at present). You must demonstrate your ability by dancing steps of your own composition in both disciplines, e.g. a light dance and a heavy dance, you are also expected to dance a Traditional Set. For all these requirements candidates are tested by a panel of three examiners appointed by An Coimisiun. In addition to this there is a written examination on rules, technicalities and the history of Irish dance. The TCRG diploma qualifies a person to teach solo and ceili dancing.

In order to qualify as an adjudicator, the teacher must gain the ADCRG (Ard Diploma Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha). In English translation - The Irish Dancing Commission Higher Diploma. The examination for this diploma contains all the elements of the TCRG with the obvious addition that the candidates are given dancers to judge under competition conditions and the results are considered by a panel of examiners.

Minimum ages required for taking both exams are 21 for the TCRG and 30 for the ADCRG.

The examinations for the above qualifications are held periodically throughout the world subject to local demand. Where a Regional Council (the local committee who administrate individual regions under the authority of An Coimisiun) has sufficient numbers of candidates they would set up a venue, appoint musicians, provide a number of dancers of all grades from local schools and then a panel of examiners would be sent from An Coimisiun to carry out the examinations. The most intensive study for candidates sitting for the TCRG exam is to learn all the solo set dance tunes in order to be able to identify them and to learn all the ceili (or team) dances in the Book "Ar Rinci Foirne".

When our daughter Sarah was studying for her TCRG she was still dancing lead role of Sariose in Lord of the Dance and two or three other members of the cast were also studying at the same time. We are reliably informed that the rest of the troupe would run a mile when they were approached by Sarah, or the others, to avoid being used as guinea pigs to be taught yet another ceili dance!

When it came to learning the set dances, we were the ones to suffer most as when travelling in the car with Sarah she would put Kevin Joyce's "The Final Round" CD on "random" and "scan" so that around six to eight seconds of the start of each track would be all she heard. She carried a pen and pad noting the track number and which set dance she thought it was. Later she would check the CD cover to confirm her identification as well as the description as candidates must also be able to give the time signature (6/8 time or 4/4 time etc.) and the number of bars in the step and the set. For example, "The Drunken Gauger" is 6/8 time with 15 bars in the step and 15 bars in the set, or "The Piper" is 4/4 time with 8 bars in the step and 12 bars in the set. Remember there are 28 of these Sets plus 8 Traditional Set dances to learn played at ALL speeds (Traditional Sets are those where all dancers perform the same traditional steps regardless of teacher or school).

As we said earlier there are no formal courses to study for these exams but a number of more experienced teachers do run pre-exam classes to help candidates. There are also a number of educational courses to study Irish dance, the best known of which is a degree course in Ethnochoreology (ethnic dancing) run by the University of Limerick but these are entirely separate to TCRG and ADCRG exams.

Full details available from An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha, Dublin

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