First Crossroads Ceili a success

The first Crossroads Ceili was held on March 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Cornwall Street in Halifax.

By Shannon Galley

Dancers from the Diaga Irish Dance perform at the Crossroads Ceili (Shannon Galley photo).

The first Crossroads Ceili was held on March 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Cornwall Street in Halifax.

A ceili is a Gaelic social gathering with dancing, music, song and performances.

The ceili was organized to expose the community to different forms of Irish dance and also to showcase Irish dance talent in Halifax. Many people gathered to learn traditional Celtic dances and to watch the talented performers.

External links
Diaga Irish Dance
Irish Association of Nova Scotia

There were chairs facing a stage where the musicians sat, and a screen behind them displaying the different dance groups,as well as old black and white photos of past ceilis. The chairs had to be constantly pushed back to make more room.

The event was organized by Zeph Caissie, owner of Diaga Irish Dance school, and sponsored by An Cumann, the Irish Association of Nova Scotia.

The evening started off with Elizabeth Macdonald calling out dance steps to those who wanted to take part. It was an evening filled with social dancing, Irish music, and performances demonstrating different styles of Celtic dance.

Elizabeth Macdonald calls out dance steps at the Crossroads Ceili on Saturday (Shannon Galley photo).

Caissie says he would like to see more ceilis happen.

“The ceili scene in Halifax kind of died out, I’d like to organize one regularly, maybe every six months.”

The three schools who performed were Diaga Irish Dance, Greene School of Irish Dance, and Scaip na Celti. They demonstrated dance styles from Irish two-hand, Cape Breton, Scottish step, and  Highland.

Elizabeth Macdonald has been dancing and teaching Irish dance for more than 20 years. Her group Scaip na Celti focuses on Cape Breton style Irish two-hand social dance. They have dances every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse.

“The social aspect to Irish dancing is great,” Macdonald says. “It’s about community, and showing people it is fun and not hard.”

Sheena Boucher dances with Diaga Irish dance and says ceilis are something she is used to and enjoys.

“I grew up in Cape Breton, so this is my roots.” Boucher says. “A ceili is a gathering of people participating in and performing the traditional music, dance and song.”

She joined the Diaga Irish dance school as soon as it opened in September 2010.

Many people at the ceili were familiar with contra dance, which is similar to the Celtic dancing at the Ceili.

People waiting for steps to be called so they can dance at the Crossroads Ceili (Shannon Galley photo).


Jessica-Rae Linzel had never been to a ceili before, but thought that it would be a fun night out.

“It was awesome, lots of energy, good dancing and great music.”





Watch dancers at the Crossroads Ceili