The Info List - Irish Set Dance

--- Advertisement ---


IRISH SET DANCE, sometimes called "country sets", is a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland


* 1 History * 2 The Set * 3 See also * 4 References * 5 External links


Set dances are based on quadrilles , which were court dances . These were transformed by the Irish into a unique folk dance of the Irish rural communities.

When the Gaelic League was formed in 1897, it sought to discourage set dance, because it was perceived as being of foreign origins, and consequently at odds with the League's nationalist agenda. In its place, the League promoted ceili dance , a process which continued during the 1930s and 1940s with the support of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in the form of the Public Dance Halls Act 1935 . The rise of rock and roll in the 1950s caused the popularity of set dancing to fade. However, in the 1980s a revival started and many sets that have not been done for forty years or more are being recovered and danced again.


Shramore Set, 2nd Figure, swing with Céilí-hold

To start, four couples are arranged in the form of a square to dance with each couple being in the middle of the sides of the square. Both the eight dancers in the group and the dance itself are called a "set". The dance is a sequence of several dance figures , which usually have a common theme or structure. The figures usually begin and end with repeated parts that everyone dances, and then during the figure each couple or pair of couples will dance separately. In the set, the couple with their backs to the band are traditionally named "First Tops" with "Second Tops" facing them. The couple on First Tops left hand side is called "First Sides" with "Second Sides" facing. Usually the First Tops are the first to dance, with some sets having First Sides and then Second Tops going next and some having Second Tops and then the First Sides. Second Sides is almost always the last couple to dance, and is therefore a good place for beginners to start, as they get more time to watch the demonstrations of the figure that the other couples give.

Set dances from a particular region usually have similar elements. For instance, sets from the Connemara
region (such as the Connemara Reel Set, the South Galway Reel Set and the Claddagh Set) have the First Sides on the right of the First Tops, and sets from the Clare region often involve footwork similar to Irish competitive Stepdance or traditional freeform Sean-nós dance (which emphasizes a "battering" step).

Distinctive set dances and dance regions emerged in the beginning of the 19th century and evolved as popular house dances separate from the more formal Irish step-dancing tradition. In some homesteads a kitchen pot was placed under the flag stones as an extra acoustical element for the house dance.

Set dance
Set dance
differs from square dance and round dance in that it does not require a caller : the sequence of figures is predefined by the name of the set. In places with a large community of set dancers, like Ireland
or New York City
New York City
, it is usual for dances to be uncalled - that is, done with no calling - because most dancers already know the instructions for the common sets. However, at venues with larger numbers of occasional dancers, a caller is often present to give instructions as the dance progresses, for those people who are not yet familiar with the set.


* List of Irish Set Dancing Champions * The South Galway Set * The Clare Lancers Set * Irish dance
Irish dance
* Irish stepdance * Sean-nós dance * Sean-nós dance in America * Slide (tune type) * Polka


* ^ Kavanagh, Donncha; Kuhling, Carmen; Keohane, Kieran (September 2008). "Dance-work: Images of Organization in Irish Dance". Organization. 15 (5): 725–742. doi :10.1177/1350508408093650 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ Dancing in Ireland
by Breandán Breathnach (Dal gCais Publications in association with the Folklore and Folk Music Society of Clare 1983) * ^ Saving the Set Dance by Paddy Corry, Treoir magazine, 1970


* Toss the Feathers - Irish Set Dancing Pat Murphy, Mercier Press ISBN 1-85635-115-7 * The Flowing Tide: More Irish Set Dancing Pat Murphy, Mercier Press ISBN 1-85635-308-7 * Apples in Winter - Irish Set & Social Dancing Pat Murphy, available at: pmurphysetdance@eircom.net * A Handbook of Irish Dances, 5. Edition, J. G. O' Keeffe, Art O' Brien, Gill ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

* t * e

Irish dance
Irish dance



* Step dance * Sean-nós dance (in the United States ) * Festival dance


* Ceili dance * Set dance * Rinnce Fada


2 2 and 4 4 dances

* Reel * Hornpipe

6 8 dances

* Single and double jig * Treble jig * Haste to the Wedding

9 8 dances

* Slip jig

12 8 dances

* Slide


* South Galway Set * Clare Lancers Set


* An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha

* Conradh na Gaeilge
Conradh na Gaeilge

* An Comhdháil na Múinteoirí le Rincí Gaelacha * Cumann Rince Náisiúnta * World Irish Dance Association
World Irish Dance Association


* Crossroads dance * Feis * Oireachtas * Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne * Céilí


* Riverdance * Lord of the Dance * Dancing on Dangerous Ground * Feet of Flames
Feet of Flames
* The Keltic Dreams


* Cara Butler * Jean Butler * Tiana Coudray
Tiana Coudray
* Dean Crouch * Joanne Doyle * Colin Dunne * Michael Flatley
Michael Flatley
* Bernadette Flynn * Dan Furey * Breandán de Gallaí * Graham Killoughery * Tony Lundon * Kevin McCormack * Róisín Mullins * Daire Nolan * Gillian Norris


* Public Dance Halls Act 1935 * Soft shoes * Hard shoes * Jig
(2011 film)

* v * t * e

Irish music
Irish music


* Céilidh * Folk music of Ireland
* Irish dance
Irish dance
* Music of Ireland
* Sean-nós dance * Set dance
Set dance


* Sean-nós song * Traditional Irish singing * Lilting


* Accordion
* Bodhrán * Bones * Bouzouki * Concertina
* Fiddle
* Flute * Hammered dulcimer
Hammered dulcimer
* Harp * Lambeg * Melodeon * Tenor banjo * Tin whistle
Tin whistle
* Uilleann pipes
Uilleann pipes

TUNE TYPES 2 4 dances Polka
2 2 and 4 4 dances Barndance
Fling Highland Hornpipe
Reel Strathspey Schottische 3 4 dances Mazurka Waltz 6 8 dances Single and Double Jigs 9 8 dances Hop and Slip jigs 12 8 dances Slide Non-dance tunes Marches and Airs which exist in various meters.


* Aeolian mode * Dorian mode * Ionian mode
Ionian mode
* Mixolydian mode * Pentatonic scale


* Cape Breton fiddling * Folk music of England
Folk music of England