Arts & Culture

Staying in step with tradition

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  • Noreen Gallinari grew up in the Bronx, but her parents made sure her roots weren't forgotten.

    The daughter of Irish immigrants, Gallinari spent her childhood listening to the festive music of her ancestors and dancing the traditional Ceili (pronounced "kay-lee") dance.

    "When I hear the music, my feet start to move," Gallinari said. "I have to get up, and I have to dance."

    She said while Irish step dancing is meant for individuals, Ceili dancing is meant for groups. A traditional Ceili was an Irish gathering for fun and fellowship. While the form of dance is an important part of her heritage, Gallinari said you don't have to be Irish to enjoy it.

    "It's like folk dancing," she said. "It just happens to be Irish music, and the dances are Irish dances."

    And you don't have to be Irish to join her dance group -- Celtic Traditions -- either. Although the Sun City Hilton Head group is made up of about 35 women, men are welcome to join, as well.

    The women of Celtic Traditions practice their moves from 1 to 3 p.m. every Friday in Sun City. They perform in a community dance show every April. They have danced at nursing homes, assisted-living communities and various functions throughout the area. They recently volunteered their time teaching Ceili classes in Beaufort. And they will show off their talents again Feb. 26 at the Beaufort Irish Festival.

    Gallinari said she was thrilled when she moved to Sun City and met Charlotte Adler, who was starting the Irish dance group. Adler founded Celtic Traditions seven years ago, when she realized there were jazz, tap and ballet groups in the community but no Irish dance groups.

    Adler said Ceili is done in lines, circles and squares, similar to square dancing -- and that it's a great form of aerobic exercise. But what she loves about Ceili dancing even more than the workout it provides is the camaraderie that comes with it. She and her friends have a great time when they get together to dance.

    "It's so much fun," Adler said about Ceili. "And it's a way of bringing other people into a group dancing."