IRISH DANCE or IRISH DANCING is a group of traditional dance forms
Irish dancing in groups is made up of a number of styles and traditions, which developed from French and English dances and formations. Ceili dance , practised both competitively and socially, is performed by groups of two to sixteen people, and often uses traditional or codified dances and formations. Its footwork is simple, and emphasis is placed on the figures and formations of the dances. Set dance is primarily a social tradition, for groups of four dancers, and includes elements of the intricate footwork found in step dance.
* 1 History
* 2 Irish stepdance
* 2.1 Modern stepdance
* 2.1.1 Dances * 2.1.2 Shoes and costume * 2.1.3 Competition structure
* 2.2 Old-style step dancing * 2.3 Festival dance
* 3 Sean-nós dance * 4 Irish céilí dances * 5 Irish set dancing * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Bibliography
* 9 External links
* 9.1 General information
* 9.2 Irish
There is very little documentary evidence of dance being practised in
Accounts of dancing in the seventeenth century suggest that dancing was by that time extremely widespread throughout Ireland. A report from 1600 mentions that Irish dances were group dances similar in form to English country dances , and later references mention the "rinnce fada ", also known as the "long dance" or "Fading". At this time, dancing was commonly accompanied by musicians playing bagpipes or the Jew\'s harp .
The dancing traditions of
A variety of forms of solo
Main article: Irish stepdance Irish step dancers from Scoil Rince na Connemara in Wilkes-Barre, PA, dance at the HUB , Penn State University .
The most predominant form of
Irish stepdance is that popularised by
the Broadway show
Riverdance , and other Irish dancing stage shows
since the late 20th century. Characterised by a rigid torso and dances
performed high on the balls of the feet, this style became distinct
from the late 19th century when the
Gaelic League began efforts to
preserve and promote
Irish solo stepdances fall into two broad categories based on the shoes worn: HARD SHOE (or heavy shoe) and SOFT SHOE (or light shoe) dances.
There are four soft shoe dance styles: the REEL , SLIP JIG , LIGHT JIG and SINGLE JIG (also referred to as HOP JIG). Reels have a 4 4 (or sometimes 2 4 or 2 2) time signature . Slip jigs are in 9 8 time. Light and single jigs are in 6 8 time, with different emphasis within the measure distinguishing the music. Hard shoe dances include the HORNPIPE in syncopated 2 4 or 4 4 time, the TREBLE JIG (also called the HEAVY JIG or DOUBLE JIG) in a slow 6 8, the TREBLE REEL (hard shoe dance done to reel music) and TRADITIONAL SETS, which are a group of dances with set music and steps. Many traditional sets have irregular musical phrasing. There are also more advanced "non-traditional sets" done by advanced dancers. These have set music, but not steps. There are multiple traditional sets, including St. Patrick's Day, Blackbird, Job of Journeywork, Three Sea Captains, Garden of Daisies, and King of the Fairies.
Competitive dancers generally dance two or three steps at a time, depending on their dancing level. Each step lasts sixteen bars of music. They are each danced starting with the right foot for eight bars, then repeated with the left foot for the last eight bars, doing the same movements with the opposite feet. Set dances, however, have a different format. The dancer usually dances one step, which is limited to eight bars, and is then repeated, resembling the steps of other dances. Then the dancer usually dances a "set" which is not repeated. It is a highly sought after and competitive feat to dance this "third round" — at regional, national, and world competitions, only a small percentage (typically the top half of dancers graded after the first two rounds) of dancers are invited back to perform.
The céilí dances used in competitions are more precise versions of those danced in less formal settings. There is a list of 30 céilí dances which have been standardised and published in An Coimisiún's Ar Rinncidhe Foirne as examples of typical Irish folk dances; these are called the "book" dances by competitive stepdancers. Most Irish dancing competitions only ask for a short piece of any given dance, in the interests of time.
Shoes And Costume
There are two types of shoes; soft shoes (also known as ghillies or pumps) and hard shoes. Hard shoes are similar to tap shoes, except that the tips and heels are made of fiberglass , instead of metal, and are significantly bulkier. The first hard shoes had wooden or leather taps with metal nails. Later the taps and heels were made of resin or fiberglass to reduce the weight and to make the sounds louder. The soft shoes, which are called ghillies , are black lace-up shoes. Ghillies are only worn by girls, while boys wear black leather shoes called "reel shoes", which resemble black jazz shoes with a hard heel. Boy's soft-shoe dancing features audible heel clicks. A new trend includes adding white laces to the soft shoes, and white tape to the straps of the hard shoes in order to give the illusion of elongating the legs.
Several generations ago, the appropriate dress for a competition was
simply "Sunday best" (clothes one would wear to church). Irish Dance
schools generally have school dresses, worn by lower-level competitors
and in public performances. As dancers advance in competition or are
given starring roles in public performances, they may get a solo dress
of their own design and colours or wear the team dress. In the 1970s
and 1980s, ornately embroidered dresses became popular. Today even
more ornamentation is used on girls' dresses. Solo dresses are unique
to each dancer. Today most women and girls wear a wig, a bun or
hairpiece for a competition, but some still curl their own hair. Most
men wear a shirt, vest, and tie paired with black trousers. Each Irish
dance school has its own distinctive full skirted dress, often
featuring lace or an embroidered pattern copied from the medieval
Book of Kells
An organized dance competition is referred to as a feis (pronounced "fesh", plural feiseanna). The word feis means "festival" in Irish , and strictly speaking would also have competitions in music and crafts. Féile (/ˈfeɪlə/) is a more correct term for the dance competition, but the terms may be used interchangeably. Dance competitions are divided by age and level of expertise. The names of the levels and other organising rules vary between countries and regions. Dancers are scored based on technique (placement of the feet, turn out, off of their heels, etc.), style (grace, power, etc.) and other items such as timing, rhythm, and sounds in their hard shoe dances.
An annual regional Championship competition is known as an oireachtas (/oʊˈrɒktəs/). An Coimisiún holds various "national" championship competitions. Each of the major Irish step dance organisations hosts a premier championship, going by differing titles. An Coimisiún's World Championships are the largest, with over 6,000 dancers competing from over 30 countries worldwide. The Aisling (pronounced 'Ashling', Gaelic for dream) is awarded to the highest placing dancer in each category from oversees (Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia) to encourage them to continue their dream of dancing.
Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne , or "The World Championships" (for An
Coimisiún dancers), first took place in
An Coimsiún also holds the Oireachtas Rince na hÉireann, or "All Irelands" which will not take place until February 2018, as the date has been moved from October. The location for 2018 has not yet been announced.
An Comhdhail's World championships take place each Easter week, with
the competition being held in
OLD-STYLE STEP DANCING
Old-style step dancing is a tradition related to, yet distinct from,
sean-nós dancing , though it is sometimes called "Munster-style
sean-nós". Old-style step dancing evolved in the late 18th and early
19th century from the dancing of travelling
Main article: Festival Irish dance
Following criticism of CLRG for its emphasis on certain regional forms of stepdance to the detriment of others, dance teacher Patricia Mulholland developed a new style of stepdance, beginning in the 1950s. It was described as a form of "folk ballet" which appealed to dancers of both Catholic and Protestant religious persuasions. Like other forms which share the heritage of modern stepdance but have departed from its codification, festival dance emphasises individuality and practises more relaxed style and posture.
Main article: Sean-nós dance
Sean-nós, or "old style" dance is a form of Irish dancing which originated from western regions of Ireland. It has been described variously as a regional style of stepdancing, and as an entirely separate style that was virtually unknown outside small areas until the late 20th century. It is distinguished by footwork which is percussive but low to the ground in comparison to step dancing, and by its more freeform nature. Performers use a more relaxed posture, and improvise steps to fit with music. Typically, sean-nós dances are performed in small spaces, traditionally doors laid flat and table tops.
IRISH CéILí DANCES
Main article: Ceili dance
Irish social, or céili /ˈkeɪli/ dances vary widely throughout
Céilí dances may also be danced with an unlimited number of couples in a long line or proceeding around in a circle (such as in "The Walls of Limerick", "The Waves of Tory", "Haymakers Jig", "An Rince Mor" or "Bonfire Dance"). Céilí dances are often fast and some are quite complex ("Antrim Reel", "Morris Reel").
In a social setting, a céilí dance may be "called " – that is, the upcoming steps are announced during the dance for the benefit of newcomers. The céilí dances are typically danced to Irish instruments such as the Irish bodhrán or fiddle in addition to the concertina (and similar instruments), guitar, whistle or flute.
The term céilí dance was invented in the late 19th century by the
Gaelic League . Céilí as a noun differs from the adjective céilí.
A céilí is a social gathering featuring
IRISH SET DANCING
Main article: Irish set dance
Irish set dancing (also referred to as "country set dancing") are
dances based on French quadrilles that were adapted by the Irish by
integrating their sean-nós steps and Irish music. The distinguishing
characteristics of Irish set dancing is that it is danced in square
sets of four couples (eight people), and consist of several "figures,"
each of which has a number of parts, frequently repeated throughout
the set. Each part of the set dance (figure) is danced to a music
tempo, mostly reels , jigs and hornpipes . The sets come from various
The organisation Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann promotes and hosts many set and ceili dance events.
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* ^ Ó hAllmhuráin 2017 , p. 11.
* ^ A B Ó hAllmhuráin 2017 , p. 16.
* ^ A B Brennan 1999 , p. 18.
* ^ Brennan 1999 , p. 16.
* ^ Ó hAllmhuráin 2017 , p. 26.
* ^ Margaret Scanlan (2006). "Culture and Customs of Ireland". p.
163. Greenwood Publishing Group
* ^ McCarthy, Todd (16 June 2011). "Jig: Film Review". The
Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
* ^ McGonagle, Suzanne (7 March 2015). "Irish dancing legend
honoured". The Irish News. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
* ^ Dorrity, Christie (28 May 2015). "Interview with a Festival
* Brennan, Helen (1999). The Story of Irish Dancing. Mount Eagle. ISBN 0-86322-244-7 . * An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (2003). Ár Rincí Fóirne: Thirty Popular Céilí Dances. Westside. * Cullinane, John P. (1987). Aspects of the History of Irish Dancing. Cork City: John P. Cullinane. ISBN 095279523X . * Cullinane, John (1998). Aspects of the History of Irish Céilí Dancing. Clontarf, Dublin: The Central Remedial Clinic. ISBN 0-9527952-2-1 . * O'Keeffe, J. G.; O'Brien, Art (1902). A Handbook of Irish Dances (1st ed.). Dublin: O'Donochue. OL 7092184M . * Ó hAllmhuráin, Gearóid (2017). A Short History of Irish Traditional Music. The O'Brien Press. ISBN 9781847179401 . Retrieved 19 September 2017. * Murphy, Pat (1995). Toss the Feathers – Irish Set Dancing. Mercier. ISBN 1-85635-115-7 . * Murphy, Pat (2000). The Flowing Tide – More Irish Set Dancing. Mercier. ISBN 1-85635-308-7 .
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