Irish dancing, mostly referred to as step dance, is one of the most popular dance forms throughout the worldwide. The dance is a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of Ireland. The vibrant and energetic dance, which is prevalent today, has its foundation dating back to the ancient times. Since the earlier times, Irish music always accompanied Irish dance. The music was played using bagpipes and the harp. Various influences have shaped the dance since then, to make it what it is now. The earlier dancers have played a great role in structuring the dance and giving it the present platform, where it is recognized throughout the world. If you want to know more about the history of Irish Step Dance, go through the following lines.
History of Irish Step Dance
The history of Irish step dancing would be more profoundly understood once the various dance forms of Ireland are known. Irish dances can be broadly classified into two major types - social dances (further divided into céilí and set dancing) and performance dances. The Irish form of dancing has always had great style within it. Step dancing was started in a major way by the sailors who danced to entertain themselves. During those days, there was no source of music and as a result, old style step dancing was developed. The arms needed to be slightly loose and the dancers created sounds using their toes.
Irish dance was greatly improvised by the dancers of the coming centuries. The dancers of those times gave birth to the style and elegance we see today. They molded the dance to a particular discipline, to cater to the people who wanted to learn the art. It was in the 16th century that the dance presented in the castles of Ireland. There were various styles of dances during that era. Trenchmore style of dance was adapted from an old style of an Irish peasant dance. The other variant of Irish dance was the Sean-nós style, in which the dancers generally danced to one musician.
There is also Hey Dance, which required the female dancers to twist themselves around their partners. In the 19th century came the Céilí dancing. In this style, there are generally 3 people who to do the dance. The dance is characterized by fast and energetic moves. Céilí dance was practiced in the olden times. Another variant style of dancing is the set dance. In this, four couple, dancing on flat feet, do the set form of dancing. The dance is performed according to the set tune and is said to have its base on the Quadrilles that was danced at the French courts. The dance had its presence in the areas where the ancestral cultures and traditions were treasured.
Irish Step Dance has immensely evolved with the changing times. While it has deep roots, based in the rich culture of Irish dancing of the yester years, it has been beautifully modified to the contemporary style as well. Jigs, polkas, reels and hornpipes are observed even today during the performance of Irish dance. The clothes for the dance are based on the dress worn by the farmers in the early years. While the men wear a plain kilt and a folded cloak that drapes the shoulder, women wear attires that have been magnificently decorated with hand embroidery.