Competitive Irish dancing may not sound like your cup of tea, but in this exuberant documentary, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds…

There is nothing startling about the way Sue Bourne’s documentary, Jig, is structured. Like Spellbound, or any other film following the progress of contestants in a contest, we are introduced to a wide variety of players and follow them through their preparation for, and participation in the event. Here it is: the 2010 Irish Dancing World Championships, held in Glasgow.

Irish dancing is a peculiar thing to watch. The feet flail madly while the arms and torso are held ramrod straight. Girls don wigs of wild curls and dresses encrusted with rhinestones and other faux jewels. More than one family here discusses re-mortgaging their house to afford the trappings the sport requires.

Above all, the film showcases the dedication and determination of these young people. Irish dancing is a niche sport (if we can call it a sport), yet the practitioners are as dedicated and driven to succeed as any All Black hopeful. As we follow these young competitors, we get a sense of the sacrifices they and their families make. Unlike the pageant world or the world of ballet, the parents here appear less pushy and more supportive of their children; even if they appear clueless as to the meaning or appeal of the dance.

Charming, entertaining and very good natured, Jig is a colourful and engaging way to while away an hour or so…


So have you seen Jig? What did you think?


UK, 2011, 94 min

Director: Sue Bourne