Irish Set Dancing
Irish set dancing is the lesser-known cousin to step dancing, which was made famous by The Riverdance surge in the mid-90’s. Set dancing is social dancing, very like square dancing – couples dancing together in a group of eight. Each dance is comprised of several figures set to traditional Irish tunes such as reels, jigs, polkas or hornpipes. In set dancing you usually dance with a partner, yet in many figures also dance with one or more other members of the set.
Irish Set Dancing is a vibrant and fresh style of dance, based on dancing Quadrilles, which originally came from France. The Irish have added their own unique steps and music to this dancing to make it energetic, rhythmic and great fun.The style is with the feet very low and flat to the floor, sometimes silently pushing and swishing around the floor, and other times making a rhythmic tattoo on the floor that is hypnotic. Set dancing uses the whole body in a relaxed stance.
Sets have evolved differently in different parts of Ireland, with the music and unique steps of the local area integrated into their own local set. This creates interest for those learning and dancing sets, with jigs, slides, polkas and reels being the most common tempo and guide to steps. Each set is made up of a number of figures, usually between 3 – 6 figures for each set and will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes to complete a full set . Some sets will be predominantly one type of music or step – jigs for example – while other sets will have a change of tempo for each figure.
Set dancing had a contemporary revival in the 1980’s after a long dormant period where ceili dancing and dance bands of the 1960’s were more popular. Over 120 sets have been revived and danced in recent times, and who knows how many more?
If all this sounds daunting, the most important thing is that it is good exercise, gets those endorphins going, which makes you feel great! It may not be as energetic as Zumba, but it is also great fun!
Set dances, or Ceilis, are very well known in the Irish Dance community. Watch the Schedule page for the dances that the Croí na Céilí Band is playing. We also announce other dances that we know of. Bring your friends. All dances are taught and called and a Workshop is held before each Ceili for those who are new to this form of dance, or who just want to brush up on steps and rhythm before the evening starts.
Come and have some fun. That’s really what it’s all about