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Irish Dancing


When we talk about Irish dancing, everybody thinks of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance. But, Irish dancing has been around for a long time and is a significant part of Irish heritage.  Dancing could be seen at social gatherings, competitions and performances. There are many types of dancing in Ireland, with each province having it's own unique style, but the two most popular types are Step dance and Ceili dancing. 

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Step Dancing 

Step dancing, a cornerstone of Irish culture, blends athleticism, precision, and grace in performances that captivate audiences worldwide. From its 17th-century origins to modern-day spectacles like Riverdance, this art form showcases lightning-quick footwork and stiff upper body movements. Whether performed solo or in groups, step dancers focus on impeccable posture, timing, and rhythm. Shoes play a crucial role, with hard shoes producing rhythmic beats and soft shoes allowing for fluid, balletic movements. Competitions judge dancers on these elements, highlighting their dedication and skill. Step dancing embodies the resilience and excellence of Irish tradition, connecting past, present, and future through the universal language of dance.

  • Soft Shoe Dancing: Soft shoe dancing, also known as ghillies, contrasts with the percussive rhythms of hard shoe dancing. It emphasizes graceful movements, light steps, and fluid transitions, often accompanied by lilting melodies and intricate footwork.

  • Hard Shoe Dancing: Hard shoe dancing produces rhythmic beats with metal-tipped shoes, creating a symphony of sound as dancers tap and stamp their feet. This dynamic style showcases athleticism, precision, and coordination, with dancers executing intricate rhythms and patterns.

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Ceili Dancing 

Ceili dancing, a cherished tradition in Irish culture, unites people in the joy of communal movement and music. Accompanied by lively Ceili bands, dancers of all levels join together at social gatherings, guided by a caller who directs each step. This inclusive dance form welcomes participants of all backgrounds, emphasizing fun over formality. Spontaneity and personal flair are encouraged, with dancers adding embellishments such as spins to the lively rhythms. Ceili embodies the spirit of Irish hospitality, fostering connections and camaraderie among participants, regardless of their dance experience.

Sean-Nos Dancing

Similar to sean-nós singing, sean-nós dancing is characterized by its improvisational and rhythmic footwork. Originating in the Connemara region, this style emphasizes close contact with the ground and a relaxed upper body, allowing for individual expression and creativity.

Irish Set Dancing

Set dancing involves performing predetermined sequences of steps in formations known as sets. Rooted in traditional social dances, sets are often performed to live music at ceilis and gatherings, blending elements of social interaction with synchronized footwork.

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