Vote for Your Top 3 Céilí Dances

Céilí (kay-lee) dancing has a relatively short, interesting and contrary history. Born out of the Gaelic League’s desire to create a clear Irish cultural and social identity, the League created a form of modern Irish step dancing in 1893 that would be an indigenous and codified form of dance: clearly Irish.

Sadly, as part of the ban on “everything English”, they also banished the round dances, country dances and quadrilles, which were loved by many dancers.

In 1929, the Irish Dancing Commission (An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha) re-created some of those popular dances and they called them céilí dances. They were adopted to complement modern step dancing , and were also danced in social settings with gusto, particularly by Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland. Some examples include The Walls of Limerick, The Siege of Ennis and The High Cauled Cap to name but a few.* READ MORE DANCE HISTORY

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Dance Shoes vs. Shoes for Dance?

I was recently asked by a new Irish set dancer what shoes I would recommend for dancing. I hesitated in replying, not sure why. I realised that to answer this question, I had to ask a question in return. You have to decide if you want:

1. Dance shoes or
2. Shoes for dance
They are not necessarily one and the same thing.

For dancers, your feet are the most important part of your body to look after. I have been  largely ignorant of this and realise only now how lucky I was to grow up in the Pacific, barefeet most of the time, and have avoided many problems that come for most people from wearing poorly-fitting shoes. READ MORE HERE

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Irish Set Dancing: 3 Sets For Beginner Classes-Ease Them In Gently

I remember my first set dancing experience in early 1989 as a blur – a great fun, sweaty, frustrating blur of people, heat and amazing sound. I have no recollection at all of the sets I learned but the remainder was a great sense and wonderful feeling of what it was all about. And that is an important thing to reflect on when you are preparing to teach a group or a class who have no experience of dancing sets.

What you, as a teacher, are doing initially is trying to create a good positive experience – one that hopefully will inspire & encourage new dancers enough to keep them coming back, as learning set dancing is a long-term pursuit, not a quick fix.

And predictably, as a dancer making the transition from doing to teaching, I made lots of mistakes – still making them, actually! I started teaching my new class what I had started with-the Caledonian Set, the Ballyvourney Jig Set, the North Kerry Set, the Clare Plain Set, as examples.

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2015 Irish Set Dancing Summer Festivals Céilí Planner

Calling all dancers: the Irish summer is only weeks away now- get ready to dance!!!

Calling all dancers! It's summertime!I’m getting very excited about all the dance, music, fun, friendship and cráic ahead. It really is the best fun you can have standing up!I I have updated the Irish Summer Dance and Music for 2015 dates and information about a range of Irish, US and German dance festivals. This year  I have also put together this schedule of brilliant dance céilí choices below to help me decide what to go to and where… I need to grow two more pairs of legs to stretch myself across all these fabulous offerings!

IRISH SUMMER FESTIVAL CÉILÍS
You can click on the table below to make it bigger or you can download a Word document version here Irish set dancing summer festival ceili planner 2015.

2015  Summer Irish set dancing plannerHope to see you somewhere out there on the dance floor!
Best wishes and happy dancing!
Nora Stewart
www.EasyIrishDance.com

WINNER 5

Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands 2015

What an amazing response we had to this poll – the amount of interest far exceeded my wildest reckoning.

10,030 votes from 40 countries far and wide, with 128 bands on the list which  expanded over the poll week to include 171 bands, suggested by you.

I’m not sure if this is the first poll of Irish céilí bands, but the purpose of holding a popular vote was to try increase the level of interest in Irish dance music.  I can see that it doesn’t need a huge amount of help but I hope it has added something extra. I’d love to see the day where every country in the world has at least one céilí band.

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Green Beer and Wigs Are Not Irish

After my blog post last year, I promised myself that I was going to be as positive as possible leading up to this St.Patrick’s Day but I find myself increasingly dismayed at the lack of thoughtful, intelligent or genuine opportunities to celebrate the best of Irish on this day of days.

Some weeks ago, I received a phone call from a local establishment enquiring if we were interested in “bringing some of our girls to dance on St.Patrick’s Day”. I patiently explained that we are a group of mature adults, not kids and we don’t get dressed up or wear wigs and also that our styles of dance- Irish set dancing & Irish sean nós dancing – were a bit different to the Riverdance style. To his credit, he listened to what I had to say and was open to the idea of our group dancing.

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Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Céilí Bands

Great music is the partner to great dancing, and to celebrate the vibrant music we lucky dancers and music fans have available, I thought it was time have a poll to find out what you think.

Putting this list of 157 céilí bands* together has been a real eye-opener, with your suggestion to include bands from as far back at the 1950’s, some I’ve never heard of but have won All-Ireland places in the Fleadh Cheoil  over the years or come from the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and yes, even Australia!

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Irish dance health: Kerry fast!

My loveJanet + Nora Sneem affair with the Kingdom of Kerry started back one dark, cold winter around New Year Eve in 1989 when I found myself in Sneem, near Kenmare with a group of newish friends I had met in Australia a few years earlier.

They had invited me to join them in a rented house and we had a great time out walking, playing board games and inevitably ended up at the local pub on New Years Eve.

Two important things happened for me that night: a random connection that led directly to my long-term & current friendship with Con Moriarty from the Gap of Dunloe, and I saw my very first Irish set being danced that night in the pub.

Fast friends: Pat Falvey with me on the Skellig Michael 1997

Fast friends: Pat Falvey with me on the Skellig

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Your Top 5 Irish Set Dances

Well, the results are in and by popular vote, it looks like the classic sets are still the most popular. We had 1,469 votes altogether from many different parts of the globe-thank-you!

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Vote for Your Top 5 Irish Set Dances

Deciding on the line-up of dances for Irish set dancing can be torture for a dance/ céilí organiser- or not.

Debate has raged for some years now, particularly in Ireland, whether or not to continually expand the range of sets danced or to stick to the ones people know, especially the ones I call the “C” sets – Caledonian, Clare Plain, Cashel, Connemara, Corofin, etc. Learning new sets is great and it can be very disappointing if you never get to dance them at céilís.

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