The 2011 documentary film, Jig.


This was the official website for the 2011 documentary film, Jig. The remarkable story of the fortieth Irish Dancing World Championships, held in March 2010 in Glasgow. Three thousand dancers, their families and teachers from around the globe descend upon Glasgow for one drama filled week. Clad in wigs, make up, fake tan, diamantes and dresses costing thousands of pounds they compete for the coveted world titles.

Content is from the site's 2011 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.

Rating: PG (for some mild thematic elements and brief language)
Genre: Art House & International, Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By: Sue Bourne
In Theaters: Jun 17, 2011  Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Dec 5, 2011
Runtime: 90 minutes

Two years in the making, JIG, was funded by BBC Scotland and Creative Scotland. It was the first time the controlling body of competitive Irish dance had ever allowed an outsider to film this fiercely competitive world.
Sue Bourne discovers wonderfully diverse characters of all ages from the United States, Holland, England, Ireland, Scotland and Russia performing in what is a hot bed of dedication, hard work, obsession and passion. When it comes to the final competition, the rivalry between the contestants escalates as the film reaches its nail-biting climax.



A year of incredibly hard work for just a few tense minutes on stage. This feature length documentary was given access for the very first time to the little known world of competitive Irish Dancing. With financial backing from BBC Scotland and Creative Scotland award‐winning filmmaker Sue Bourne went behind the normally closed doors of Irish Dancing and found a remarkable world. Wonderful characters of all ages from across the globe….Ireland, Holland, Britain, America and Russia. JIG discovers a world of dedication, hard work, obsession, passion. Success and failure. And astonishing talents pushed to their limits in the quest for perfection. JIG is rated PG by the MPAA.

Jig | trailer (2011)




Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critics 61% | Audience 70%

By COLIN COVERT Star Tribune
AUGUST 25, 2011 | Rating: 1.5/4
 You've seen it in "Riverdance" -- Irish dancers with legs going a mile a minute, hands and upper bodies straitjacket stiff. This competition documentary, following contestants in an annual international dance-off, is sort of cut in half, too. The practice and performance sequences are compelling, but the history of the dance style, the intricacies of judging and the personalities of the hoofers are hardly addressed. There are some socioeconomic tensions in the piece, with an affluent little girl from New York in competition with a poor lass from Northern Ireland, but the focus is more on choreography than rivalry. If you enjoy this form of entertainment, you'll like "Jig" hugely, but if you're not already persuaded, there's little here to inflame your curiosity. 


June 22, 2011 | Rating: B
Adam Markovitz  | Entertainment Weekly Top Critic

The world of competitive Irish dancing gets the documentary treatment from director Sue Bourne, who uncovers the sweat and toil behind all the sparkly outfits and clickety-clack footwork. With a special eye for tweenage ? phenoms, Bourne explores the field’s surprisingly global talent pool: a Sri Lankan-born Dutch teenager, a group of Russian enthusiasts, a California family that moved to the U.K. for their gifted son. They’re all fascinating ? subjects — or would be if Jig didn’t dance around their personal stories in favor of overheated waiting-for-the-scores suspense.


December 29, 2011 | Rating: 6/10
James Plath   Movie Metropolis
Jig should appeal to dancers of all kinds, but I'm not sure how much replay value it has



**** Aideen F March 5, 2017
Well you can probably tell by my name I have Irish blood! I didn't catch this film when it was firt released, although I had heard about it from relatives still living in Glasgow when it was being filmed at the Irish Dancing World Championships. Who would have thought that I would get to see it while visiting my great aunt, Roisin, several times removed on my mother's side. I had moved to the Baltimore Maryland area a year ago and learned that I had a great aunt living less than an hour away at an assisted living facility. My mother encouraged (insisted) I visit her. Because I was not sure what the protocols were for visiting an assisted living facility my mother sent me a link to the facility called Hart Heritage Estates to learn more and to figure out the driving directions. Turns out it was a pretty quick drive north on I95 before turning off to Bel Aire. Over the last year I have visited Auntie Roisin numerous times. My mother looks so much like this relative (only younger) that is is uncanny. Turns out Auntie Roisin was a terrific Irish dancer in her youth, winning numerous awards. I had taken Irish dancing classes for several years in my youth before moving on to other interests. It was a no brainer to get a CD of the 2011 documentary film, Jig. My aunt was delighted when I told her what I was planning for my next visit. I can totally relate to the heart, drive, and dedication that some Irish families devote for a 2 minute Irish Dance routine. My aunt is thrilled that this documentary will exposed others to this world of Irish dancing. Unlike probably many folks who viewed this documentary, my aunt could easily understand what was going on with the rapid fire footwork. I watched her feet twitching while she sat in her wheel chair as the music played. All in all I thought it was a fantastically shot film with some great story lines of a few participants. After the film was over my aunt wanted me to demonstrate some of my Irish dance footwork. I felt a bit foolish and certainly not as polished and refined as those participants in the documentary, but I could do about a minute of Irish dance footwork without falling on my face. My performance delighted my aunt and she was gracious enough not to make any negative comments. Since she absolutely loved the film, I left the CD with her as a gift so she could watch it again whenever the mood struck for a little Irish dancing!

**** Justin M January 3, 2012
Who could know that such heart, drive, and dedication of ones life and family would all be on the line for a 2 minute Irish Dance routine? I love that this documentary exposed me to a whole entire world of something new. And apparently children and young adults participate from all over the globe in this thing. No big money, no sponsorship, just pure talent and heart for the love of the craft. Now watching it is one thing, understanding whats going on with this rapid fire footwork is another. It all looked very difficult to me so I couldn't really tell who was doing the best or the worse but its all impressive stuff! A fantastically shot film with some great story lines of a few participants. Drama to boot!



**** Sylvester K January 1, 2012 Super Reviewer
I think this is one truly amazing film, who could've thought of making a documentary on Irish dancing? I was engaged through out the whole film, the editing was amazing and the individual stories were great too. It's an inspiring film that makes you feel good inside and out.


*** Miles H December 22, 2011
Things I learnt from watching this:
1. No-one in the audience can add 3 numbers together.
2. The children wear just as much make-up, and ridiculous wigs, as in child beauty pageants.
3. Some Christians try and curry favour with God to give them an unfair advantage over their competitors.
4. The parents are living vicariously through their children (not really a surprise).
5. Americans are better than the Irish at Irish dancing.
6. Most of the children cry; seemingly a lot of the time, whether they win or lose.



****Lisa K October 29, 2011
Missing Ireland lately, so a fun and, at times, thrilling story with compelling dancers, male and female, from all over the world.


*** ½ Heather M October 15, 2011
This is the kind of documentary that I enjoy. It is a well done look into the world of competitive Irish dancing and gives you an education about an event that most people don't know exists.



****½  Monica M June 1, 2011
JIG, I know nothing about Irish dancing but this hooked me at the beginning. It's remarkable to see how you can compare to the characters. You can't ignore the dedication these young characters have for their Passion to Irish dancing their way to WORLDS! Their talent turns into art then it turns into their life. Beautiful movie, and inspiring!


****½ Meg D June 1, 2011
This film looks remarkable! I am so happy to know that a documentary was made on the beautiful art of Irish Dancing. I cannot wait to see it!


**** Dianne W June 1, 2011
This film looks funny and moving too. Irish stepdancing, who knew it had world competitions? I can't wait 'til this documentary hits the US.


Nicole R  June 1, 2011
Must. See. This. I used to be obsessed with Irish Dancing as a kid. I didn't actually do it, but I loved to watch River Dancing with my mom and went to a few live shows. I think it'd be amazing to see it on a more competitive level rather than just an entertainment level. I especially want to see more about how the younger ones and the boys deal with the sport.


Edward M  June 1, 2011
This doc looks so legit! Looks really well done... I'm excited :D


*** Ian G May 1, 2011
A very enjoyable doc focusing just as the title says on the art of jigging, specially surrounding the upcoming world championship and how numerous people from varying backgrounds around the world became passionate about this artform and made a career or early life pursuing it. Great cast of subjects gather here, but that might be the one fault of the film if anything is that because they cover so many people involved and pursuing to be the best, when they have the glorious crowning moment of one individual, it is not as utterly moving as it could be since the attention is so spread out in some ways (camera seems to focus on about 8-12 separate groups and categories) Otherwise a good light doc at Docs 2011 fest.


*** Kristal C May 1, 2011
A sweet but pretty standard kids-go-to-a-competition doc. The world of Irish dancing is truly bizarre in terms of the sheer number of devotees but the film does a good job of showing why these kids spend so much time doing it. I wish there maybe hadn't been SO many people to follow (I think the Russian dancers were kind of pointless) but ultimately I enjoyed the ups and downs....but not enough to pay to see Riverdance.




Exclusive interview: Irish dance documentary 'Jig' opening today - meet the star John Whitehurst

Kathleen O’Reilly-Wild | @IrishCentral
June 17, 2011

One of the most poignant moments in "Jig" is with Amanda Whitehurst and her ten-year-old son John with his teacher John Carey during a dance class. She is just outside the gym doors, watching silently with that end-of-the day tiredness and looking like every mom in the world who has ever waited to collect a child from a lesson or game.

The difference is that Amanda and her husband have six children and John, the fourth youngest and only Irish dancer among them, has qualified for the World Championships.

This is the story in the film which I think most Irish dance parents can relate to best. Filmmaker Sue Bourne, through the Whitehursts, conveys the whole family's commitment in time and money, as well as the surprising rapture of watching one's child work hard, perform passionately and absolutely love the athletic cultural pursuit of Irish dancing.

Feis America asked John how he felt about being selected for "Jig" and whether the filming was a distraction during his training for Worlds. John said he had mixed emotions, and felt both nervous and excited. "The film crew were really friendly so I felt relaxed around them and carried on as normal," he adds.

Feis America: How many days a week do you go to dance class? How much more when you are training for a major competition?

John: I go to class Wednesday for two hours and Saturday for three hours. If there is a Major I sometimes have a private [lesson] for an hour every other week, but not always.

Feis America: Tell us about the other boys in your dance class - younger than you - that look up to you as a mentor.

John: The younger boys are at all different levels and I will help them with their steps if they need it. Some of the boys I have known for years and we have fun in class!

Feis America: Do you participate on teams at all? Do you like teams?

John: I have been on a mixed ceili team and I liked it. I really would like to do a mixed figure because the choreography is amazing!

Feis America: Tell me about the other boys in your competitions. Are you friends or friendly rivals?

John: They are my friends! I think my age group is one of the hardest because there are so many great dancers. We all know that we are there to dance our best. We shake hands and wish each other luck. Anyone who gets a recall is a winner. After the set dance, it's time to hang out and have fun!

Feis America: Does being a competitive Irish dancer help you be a better student at school or does the commitment make it harder for you?

John: Being a dancer helps with school. I find it easier to remember things and work things out in my mind. I'm also in the athletics team and run long distances. I'm not fast, but I have the stamina to run at a steady pace.

Feis America: John, what would you tell the parents of other boy dancers that might help them?

John: Be supportive, not pushy. Your son may not be the best in his age group, but if he is happy, his dancing will improve.

"Jig" the Film opens today in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto.