Irish Dance: Real Women DO Batter- The Race Is On

I had the pleasure of teaching a sean nós & battering workshop in October with a group of 13 dancers from Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Canberra, on the 10th annual October set dancing weekend here in Canberra. We went through and learned our 3 step sean nós routine to hornpipes (see below), which was nervously but well performed to an expectant crowd the next day.

Not surprisingly though, the highlight was really getting stuck in to the battering steps, particularly the Clare battering step. This is a name that is loosely used for steps that are popularly danced in Clare to reels, and experienced dancers will recognise that very familiar tattoo immediately, as heard below:

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Irish Dance: Real Ladies Don’t Batter

I occasionally overhear fascinating conversations – as a bystander, you understand.

And so it was on this occasion when two women were recollecting their experience of set dancing and tut-tutting about other women dancers who dare to dance battering steps.

“In our day, it was never done” they said, with the implicit message was that “it shouldn’t be done”.  My face was aflame as I sat there, not sure if this missive was being directed at me or not. I kept quiet.

My initial reaction was to feel a bit indignant. Yes, I’ve been known to batter – quite loudly at times and probably over enthusiastically – but I have always found the sound and subtle rhythms used in sets and sean nós completely addictive, and is how I got really hooked in the first place. I really, really wanted to be able to do THAT. Continue reading

6 simple Irish dances for your Christmas party

Video

Sharing Irish dancing with my friends and non-dancers is something I love to do, AND it needs to be very, very easy.

Here, I am featuring three of the 6 different Irish dance styles with videos and instructions that are linked to each dance name so you can follow along.

  1. Irish set dancing figures
  2. Irish two hand dancing
  3. Irish céilí dancing

If you’re really keen and this is your first time getting people dancing, see my next post How to work with your party crowd who are keen to dance (and have probably had a few drinks)…

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How to get a party crowd Irish dancing

6 TIPS FOR WORKING WITH A PARTY CROWD

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  1. Have a leader someone who knows what they’re doing & a few more. Preparation is important- know the steps and have the music ready.
  2. Be heard: have a microphone so people can hear you.
  3. Make the moves really big & easy:
    1. Make advance & retires into the circle 4 bars, not 2 bars: in once, out once.
    2. Substitute swinging for right arm or left arm hook
  4. Music:
    1. Not too fast – Try to pick music that’s not too fast at the beginning – give everyone a chance & make it reasonably safe.
    2. Not too long – Music length for each dance at about 2- 2 1/2minutes – most people won’t dance longer than that.
  5. Fun: Get as much clapping and stamping in as you can – we’re all kids at heart!
  6. If- and when- the dancing all goes a bit pear-shaped, laugh as hard as you can. That’s the whole point 🙂Crowd018

Happy dancing this Christmas.

Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com
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