Sunday 19 March 2017

Jigs, Reels & Hornpipes

Here are ten facts you may not know about Irish dancing:

1.  Irish dancing was influenced by dancing on the Continent, especially the Quadrille, a type of square dancing performed by four couples in a rectangle.

2.  Dance competitions in the 18th and early 19th Century were often held in close quarters and therefore were performed on table tops or barrel tops.  The close quarters dictated the nature of the dance; for example, dancers kept their hands rigid at their sides and didn't travel much.

3.  A ceili is a social gathering featuring Irish dance and music.  Ceili dances can be performed by as few as two and as many as 16 and include "The Walls of Limerick" and "Haymaker's Jig".

4.  Irish set dancing, based on the quadrille, follows the tempo of a jig, reel or hornpipe.

5.  Irish step dancing includes sean-nos dancing and old style step-dancing.  The most popular style is the Munster.

6.  Irish dancers wear either soft shoes or ghillies (black lace up shoes) or hard shoes (similar to tap shoes).

7.  Several generations ago, Irish dancers wore their Sunday best to compete.  In the 1970's, they started wearing ornate costumes which they still wear today.

8.  Irish dancers wear a wig, bun or hairpiece.

9.  There are multiple traditional set dances including St. Patrick's Day, Blackbird, Job of Journey Work, Three Sea Captains, Garden of Daisies and King of Fairies.

10.  Riverdance, which helped popularize Irish Dancing, first started as an interval act at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.

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