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Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance.

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Presentation on theme: "Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance."— Presentation transcript:


2 Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dances. Irish social dances can be divided further into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dances are quadrilles, danced by four couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations (céilí) of two to sixteen people. In addition to their formation, there are significant stylistic differences between these two forms of social dance. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dancing community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed. Irish dancing, popularised in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance, is notable for its rapid leg and foot movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary. Most competitive dances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using céilí dances. The solo stepdance is generally characterised by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or "hard shoe".

3 The dancing traditions of Ireland probably grew in close association with traditional Irish music. Although its origins are unclear, Irish dancing was later influenced by dance forms from the Continent, especially the Quadrille. Travelling dancing masters taught all over Ireland, as late as the 18th and early 19th centuries. During this time, places for competitions and fairs were always small, so there was little room for the Dance Masters to perform. They would dance on tabletops, sometimes even the top of a barrel! Because of this, the dancing styles were very contained, with hands rigid at the sides, and a lack of arm movement and traveling across the stage. As time went on, larger places for dance competitions and performances were found, so styles grew to include more movement, more dancing across the stage as you see in Riverdance. Some attribute the rigid arms found in most forms of Irish Dancing to the oppressive ruling classes of 18th and 19th century Ireland, either the Priests, who banned dancing for being unsavory or the English landlords who sought to wholly eradicate Irish culture as seen in political policies that outlawed Irish games (Hurling and Irish Football), Language and Dance.

4 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. The other distinguishing feature is that feet are flat on the floor dancing with a sliding /gliding style. Each part of the set dance (figure) is danced to a music tempo, mostly reels, jigs, polkas, hornpipes and slides. The sets come from various parts of Ireland and are often named for their place of origin; examples are the Corofin Plain Set, the South Galway Set and the Clare Lancers Set. The organisation Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann promotes and hosts many set dance events.

5 Stepdancing as a modern form is descended directly from old-style step dancing. There are several different forms of stepdancing in Ireland (including sean-nós dancing and old-style stepdancing), but the style most familiar to the public at large is the Munster, or southern, form, which has been formalised by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelachathe Irish Dancing Commission. Irish stepdancing is primarily done in competitions, public performances or other formal settings.

6 The dresses worn by modern dancers refer to the everyday clothing of Ireland that has been a part of their culture since the eighth century. The dresses worn by female dancers reflect the traditional Irish peasant dress and they are embellished with hand-embroidered Celtic patterns taken from the Book of Kells and Irish stone crosses which are quite a part of the Irish history. Imitations of the famous Tara Brooch are donned on the shoulder, which also helps in holding the flowing shawl that falls down over the back. Initially the designs on the costumes were minimum, almost nothing but as and how Irish dancing gained popularity, innovation was endeavored and distinctive costumes were designed. The presence of interwoven stitching and lines in the design referred to the continuity of the process of life. The popular colors when it came to Irish costumes were green and white. Red was a color that was averted because of its association with England, as it is known that Ireland has an extensive history of trying to gain independence of the British yoke. Men's dresses are simple since they wear plain kilt or pants, jackets and a cloak.

7 Initially dancers in Ireland did not wear shoes but then around 20th century they started wearing soft shoes when dancing jigs, reels and slip jigs. Male dancers wore rawhide shoes, which were not very heavy and were quite suitable for dancing. These shoes can be found on the Aran Islands where they are named Broga uirleathair. Step dancing evolved from the wooden soled taps or clogs which were worn by some fishermen on the west coast when it became illegal to teach traditional music, the rhythm of the dance tune was passed down to the younger generation by tapping the hard shoes on the flag stones in the kitchen. Now those shoes are transformed into hornpipe shoes, which are specially made for step dancing and for reels and jigs soft shoes similar to ballet pumps are worn. Lately there are various kinds of shoes made by various schools of dance and it is quite an identity for the dancers.


9 Here in this article we would discuss the Irish dances and the dresses that they wear, which can be alluded to their past occupations, economy and mythology. However there is no concrete proof that we can base our assumptions on since the books and documents were destroyed by the Vikings who raided the country around 7th century. Dance in Ireland basically started with Feisanna, which means a gathering that would have several events of commerce, politics and entertainment merged together. Around 18th century "crossroads dancing" was introduced which was condemned by the Irish Church and dancers were ordered to keep indoors. At present there are two basic dance forms in Ireland: social dances and performance dances under which there are several others like Céilí and set dancing that can be called a part of Irish Social dancing whereas the most famous step dance or river dance is under performance dances. Now you may question why one is called "social" and the other one "performance". It is because couples did social dancing; usually four or two couples at a time. It is more about being together unlike performance dancing which is more of a performance oriented dance. Irish social dancing is all about upholding the culture and tradition of Ireland.


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