So, you’ve got the hang of the steps that you’ve spent ages learning, and finally the rhythm is starting to come after lots of practice, and perhaps also the moves in the set if you’re doing set or céilí dancing. But there’s this other elusive bit that you see “the really good dancers” doing and you can’t just work out why you’re not quite as cool as they are! They’re doing something different and you can’t quite put your finger/ toes/ feet on it….
Well, each style of Irish dance has it’s own unique body stance or sometimes you get a choice! Most styles of Irish dance require bending the knees and hips while dancing to allow looseness in the lower half of the body, giving a bit of bounce and spring – think of car suspension acting like shock absorbers. Lower centre of gravity also gives you a lot more control, particularly reducing uncontrolled sliding on the dance floor.
For those of you who have learned snow skiing, the same principles apply – bend ze knees and get control over your movements. (And no, leaning a long way forward with your butt sticking out on it’s own doesn’t count as bending the knees…!)
I’m going to try to explain for each of the 6 styles of Irish dance using static photos of Martin (below) but it will become clearer when you see people dancing and moving, and you know what you are looking at. Continue reading
I was reminded yet again this week that most people are only aware of one style of Irish dance- Irish step dancing, brought to world fame by the Riverdance production. However, there are many other Irish dance styles – at least six that I am aware of. The biggest difference in style is being whether the dance is balletic – with pointed toes and high on the balls of the feet – or a relaxed, flatter, gliding style with more use of the heels.
Have a look at the videos below and see if you can spot the difference? Whatever the style, the essence is that they all use Irish music, are very rhythmic and should be fun to do!
1. Irish Set Dancing– FLAT DOWN STYLE
Social dancing with four couples in a set of eight dancers; feet flat, gliding style, relaxed body and arms, having fun!
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. Irish set dancing has similar roots to American square dancing, although sets have a more disciplined structure determined by the structure of the music.