How many irish dancers are there in the world

World Championships 2022

On this page you will find all the information you need to know about the flagship event of An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne.

Daily Competition Schedule 21st March 2022- Click here
Days Only Timetable Update 14th February 2022 - Click here
Venue: Waterfront Hall, 2 Lanyon Place, Belfast
Dates: Sunday, 10th April to Sunday, 17th, 2022
Entry Dates: Friday, 28th January, 2022 5:00pm
Late Entry: Friday, 4 th February, 2022 5:00pm
Entry Date for competitors qualifying at Oireachtas Rince na hEireann 2022: Friday, 4th March, 2022
Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne 2022 - Syllabus - Click Here
Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne 2022 - Supplemental Qualifying Information
• Solo Dancing Championships: 120 Euros
• Team Dancing Championships: 25 Euros (Per Dancer)
• Family Maximum Entry Fee: 300 Euros Family Admission: 60 Euros
The following changes are new for 2022:

• Ceili Competitions: Part B for round 1
• Dances for Competition 1 & 21: Hornpipe; Reel; Set Dance in 6/8 or 6/8 to 9/8
• Strict Track & Trace system required by venue
• Dance Drama may be a stand-alone event, if seven or more entries are received.

Mandation of Adjudicators:

For 2022 ONLY, the mandation process has been suspended. Panels will be selected from a pool of self-nominating adjudicators .

Track and Trace

Track & Trace will be in place for Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne 2022 at the venue. A very strict double ID system will be in place for all attendees. A more detailed document will be issued at a later date


***Syllabus will be forwarded to all teachers and will be displayed on the CLRG website as soon as it becomes available.***




* Please note that the syllabus below is for reference only. Should it be deemed that the event can proceed in July, a new syllabus will be published accordingly.

 Click here for Worlds 2021 Syllabus

Amendment to Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne 2021 Syllabus:

Page 3, Item 3 should read

  1. See page 23 for entry fees and other relevant information. Please note: Entry fees are non-refundable for any reason (except the cancellation of the event due to Covid-19 restrictions) whatsoever after Friday, 12th February 2021.


Please right-click on this link to save the Dublin Worlds Anthem! 


Watch and sing along on YouTube: CLICK HERE! or on this image:


Lyrics, arrangement, and performance by Barry Owens. 

The tune is based on the original song, "TEMPLE BAR". Special thanks to the original TEMPLE BAR composers, Nathan Carter & John Farry  (Bardis Music/ Carn Music). Nathan and John graciously granted CLRG permission for the melody to be used as the official anthem for our Worlds Celebration. 

Check out Nathan Carter's website:

World Irish Dance Association

Competition Rules


Traditional Sets

Enter Go. feis

Enquire about membership

Welcome to the World Irish Dance Association

The World Irish Dance Association (WIDA) is a non-profit organisation devoted to promoting Irish dance around the world. Since its founding in 2004, WIDA has developed a global presence and currently includes over 140 schools in 21 countries – and continues to grow at a fast pace!

To promote Irish dance worldwide, WIDA organises competitions, examinations and workshops and strives to bring Irish dance into the hearts and feet of dance enthusiasts, both with and without prior knowledge of Irish dance.

A defining characteristic of WIDA is its friendly and welcoming culture which can be experienced at any WIDA event. Competition is limited to the dance floor, while off the stage every dancer, parent and teacher becomes part of one big WIDA family with a shared love for Irish dance.

Qualifying for the world and international championships

Our 2023 event will be held in Killarney on the 13th-16th April 2023. Follow our event page on Facebook to stay up to date.

Dancers should qualify at their local Oireachtas event where possible. If you are unable to attend your local event you can qualify at any other Oireachtas event, including the digital Oireachtas.

With the addition of the digital Oireachtas to our calendar, areas without a live Oireachtas should qualify via the digital Oireachtas. This supersedes the previous exemption rule for remote areas.

As an example, a dancer in Mexico that would usually be exempt from qualifying should qualify via the Digital Oireachtas. For 2022 this is the Australasian Digital Oireachtas.

Wida announcement- 06/04/2022

A defining characteristic of WIDA is it's friendly and welcoming culture which can be experienced at any WIDA event. Competition is limited to the dance floor, while off the stage every dancer, parent and teacher shares a love for Irish dance.

The World Irish Dance Association was created as a non-political, neutral organisation to promote Irish Dancing which aims to welcome people of all ages from all corners of the globe.

WIDA will continue to offer financial support to our Ukrainian teachers which will be raised at our annual Treble Reel competition and also by raising awareness of the donation address which goes directly to WIDA members in Ukraine. Teachers and dancers of WIDA will also continue to offer support to the members of Ukraine in whatever capacity they can.

Wida Announcement

As of May 31st 2020 Elaine Walker will have completed her term in office as Interim President of WIDA and will be stepping down from the role.

She leaves the position with our heartfelt thanks for assuming the presidency in April 2016 at a difficult time and continuing to lead the organisation as a fantastic ambassador for Irish dance and WIDA.

A new structure will be established over the summer months to reflect the changing direction and focus of WIDA as we move forward, and an announcement will be made at the appropriate time as to who will be the president for the immediate future.

We are sure you will all join WIDA in thanking Elaine for her sterling efforts over the past four years and we are sure she will enjoy her freedom from the pressures of being the focus of so many questions and discussions about the rules and personalities of the WIDA family.

History of Irish Dance ⋆ Kelteria Dance School | Irish Dances

Viking raids destroyed most of the books from this period, as well as written records of any dances. However, the fact that one of the elements of the exquisite Gaelic culture was music and dance is undeniable.

Viking raids on Ireland ended in 1014 after the victory of King Brian Boru of Ireland at Clontarf. Irish dancing competitions originate from this period.

Brian Boru at Clontarf in 1014, painted in 1914
by James Ward. Photograph: courtesy of Dublin City Council

It was both a trade fair and political gatherings and cultural events with music, sports competitions, storytelling and craftsmanship. Over time, the cultural aspect has become central to Irish dance competitions. These events continue to this day. Although politics has faded into the background, they still have music, dance, crafts and trade.

The decline of Celtic culture

The Celtic tradition in Ireland quickly faded into oblivion during the twelfth century. The increase in foreign influence weakened the traditional arts, and in 1170 the conquest of Ireland by the Anglo-Norman knights took place. However, for the next two hundred years, the conquerors firmly entered the traditional Irish culture.

To prevent this merger, the Anglo-Irish Parliament passed the Rite of Kilkenny in 1366, which prescribed excommunication and severe penalties against all those who followed or were associated with native Irish customs. Another 128 years elapsed before the charter was enforced.

History records many dances performed by the Irish in the mid-1500s. These include the Rinnce Fada or Fading, where two rows of partners are opposite each other, the Irish Hey (figure dance), the jig (probably a group dance), the trenchmore (described as a large folk national dance (country dance) with free movements), and dances with a sword. It is not clear which dances among Irish, English and French influenced which, but it is characteristic that Irish dances had a faster tempo and side steps were present.

The British suppression of Irish culture continued, with the ban on bagpipes and the arrest of bagpipers exemplifying this. However, Queen Elizabeth I was "extremely pleased" with Irish songs and folk dances. The struggle for power between the Irish and the British continued throughout the 1600s. Penal laws passed in the late 1600s destroyed Irish commerce and industry.

Total prohibition and the emergence of secret schools

The education of Catholic children was also prohibited by law, which led to the emergence of secret schools (open-air schools for the poor). There was a degree of secrecy in traditional Irish culture. This period of brutal repression lasted over a hundred years, explaining the initial secrecy of the teaching of Irish dance.

National folk dances continued, one description says that on Sundays “a violin was played in every field and the girls danced to it until they were foaming at the mouth”; another states that "the youth danced until the cows were brought home. " The dancing continued throughout the 1700s, often during holidays, weddings, baptisms, and memorial rites. However, the Church sometimes condemned dancing.

An Irish Jig before royalty 18710012

The main influence on Irish dance and Irish culture was the emergence of dance masters around 1750, starting a controversial tradition that continues to this day. The dance masters typically traveled around the towns, staying in the villages with hospitable families (who were honored to be chosen as hosts) for about six weeks.

Teachers taught Irish dance in kitchens, agricultural outbuildings, crossroads, or open-air schools for the poor. Students primarily studied jig and reel. Sometimes the teacher would tie a rope around the student's leg to distinguish the right leg from the left.

The presence of an outstanding dance master in the village was a matter of pride for the society. Each dance master had a set of dance steps and over time created new ones. (Eight measures in music are called "step", hence the term "step dance". )

irish dancecing lesson

Sometimes the masters participated in competitions in Irish dancing, the winner was not the one who danced better, but the one who knew the most steps. The loser had to cede the territory of the city to the winner.

These masters have created many staged dances and Caylees, and they carefully guarded the art of creating dance steps. Dance masters created the first dance schools, the most famous being in County Kerry, Cork and Limerick. One dance master described himself as an "artificial rhythm walker" and "an instructor in the art of dance for youth".

The villagers paid the dance masters at the end of the third week of teaching, in "benefit performance". They paid the accompanying musician a week later. Sometimes a dance master was both a musician and a dancer at the same time! Obviously, the level of pay for dance masters was relatively high for Ireland, and room and board were included.

McCarthy and Wife Additional title Champion Irish jig dancers posed in Irish dress 1873

The suppression of Catholics continued during this time, but ways were found to avoid control. One story says that the Catholics sent a child to watch the meetings or masses they held in the cellars of the eateries. The child danced at a certain pace and with a special tact to warn the Catholics of the approaching soldiers.

During the 1800s, the pie dance was especially popular. The pie was placed on a stand in the center of the field, it was a prize for the best dancer. After the competition, the winner took the cake for himself. Attempts by parish priests to ban dancing were not uncommon, but proved to be largely ineffective.

Gaelic League Ard Fheis and Oireachtas 1913

Establishment of the Irish Dance Commission

This period dates back to 1893 when the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was founded. This group contributed to the revival of Irish culture, which for centuries was suppressed by England. In 1929 the "Commission for Irish Dancing" (Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha) was founded in order to lay down rules regarding teaching, judging and competition.

Up to 19For 29 years, there have been many types of local dances, music, costumes and rules for Irish dancing competitions. This led to the development of standards to be followed in competition. Throughout the 20th century, Irish dance has changed dance techniques, costumes and venues.

For example, during the period of the dance masters, stages were much smaller, including tabletops, door leaves, and sometimes the "stage" was just a crossroads. (An old poem called the dance of "light walking on the floor"). The dance ability test included dancing on top of a barrel or on a soap table!

As the stage grew in size, there were at least two changes to the dance. The range of motion of the dancers on the various stages was greatly increased (the judge now deducted points if the dancer did not "use the stage"), and dance steps that required a significant amount of space (such as the running jump) became possible.

The venue has also changed over time, from barns or open areas where flat trucks were used as a stage (and still are) to rooms in hotels, schools or fairgrounds. areas in general. (Note that the fairgrounds hosted ancient Irish dance competitions and their use is especially appropriate in a historical context.)

During the 20th century Irish dance developed in different ways. Education began at a younger age. Among the students, girls began to predominate, not boys (the turning point occurred before 1930).

Girls performing a solo dance in a competition were very rare until the 1920s. The dance styles also changed; for example, hands and palms did not always have to be in exactly the same position during solo dances. Previously, in some cases, they were more relaxed and even placed on the hips.

Apparently, the influence of parish priests led to keeping the hands in one position; some argue that it was not all that provocative, others are convinced that the Church was trying to increase the self-control of the dancers. Hand movements are still present in figure (group) dances.

The ability to dance was useful to many immigrants from Ireland in the 19th century. They could rarely find suitable work in the USA (the east of the country was full of ads that said they were not hiring Irish people) and therefore began a career in show business.

On Broadway, tap dance became popular, which appeared due to the fusion of the African-American "shoe dance" and the Irish "tap dance". In the early 1900s Irish show groups traveled around the USA, entertaining the audience with national songs and dances. Becoming a show for the public, Irish dance began to differ from the original national one.

In the 30s 20th century there was a keili (another name is a figured dance). In the 50s. 20th century Irish dances made their way into the show grounds, they were shown on the Sullivan Show and other television programs, and competitions among masters resumed.

In 1969 Dublin hosted the World Irish Dancing Championships and since then they have gained momentum around the world.

The culmination and turning point, after which the whole world learned about Irish dance, was the performance of the Irish dance show Riverdance at the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994, which was held in Ireland. And in February 1995, the Riverdance dance show was first shown at the Point Theater (Dublin, Ireland). The show is touring to this day.

By 2021, the world of Irish dance will have dozens of different shows in different parts of the world. Several Irish dance commissions have been set up. Hundreds of thousands of people in different countries began to practice Irish dance. Dance technique has become much more complex and more acrobatic, and dresses are more technological and colorful.


  • Brennan, Helen. The Story of Irish Dance (Mount Eagle Publications, Ltd., 1999).
  • Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine,
    1845-1850 (SHoughton Mifflin; Reprint edition, 2005).
  • Burgard, Anna Marlis, Leighanne Dees. Flying Feet: A Story of Irish Dance (Chronicle
    Books, 2005).

The Irish are dancing. Irish dances. National costume for Irish dances

Ireland famous for its incomparably rich dance culture. World interest in Irish dances of the last 10-20 years is due to the advent of spectacular Irish shows.

"Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance". How to explain the appeal of the Irish dance?

History of Irish dance

Possibly history of traditional Irish dance must be reckoned from the time of its origin Celtic peoples - Gauls), who founded their own state already in the 5th century BC. These peoples were spread throughout Western Europe, and by the third century AD, the Gauls got to Ireland.

The oldest known type associated with Irish dance, is the Sean-Nos of the Celts who have lived in the British Isles since 2000 BC In the twelfth century, influenced by the culture of the Norman conquerors in Ireland began to dance round dance around a man, singing a song. In the 16th century dance dances began to be performed during palaces.

And two centuries later, wanderers appeared in Ireland dance teachers - the founders of two popular today types: group and solo. In the fifth century Saint Patrick declared the lands of Ireland Christian. Due to cultural oppression Ireland, which began in the 18th century, national dances are long time were performed only under the cloak of strict secrecy. Folk dancing was sharply condemned by the Christian church as "crazy" and "bringers of misfortune". Some historians even believe that the characteristic motionless position of the hands on the belt appeared in Irish dance just after church declared hand movements in Irish dances obscene .

As England conquered the adjacent lands adjacent with it, the peoples were subjected to cruel pressure: it is known that to destroy a nation, you must first destroy it cultures at. During the British colonization, persecution intensified. to all manifestations of Irish culture. punitive laws, which were introduced by the British in the middle of the 17th century banned teaching the Irish anything, including music and dance.

Therefore, for more than a century and a half, Irish learned to dance secretly . Dance culture existed in the form of secret activities that were carried out in the villages by vagrants dance teachers and in the form of large country parties where people danced in groups, often led by the same masters. The appearance of dance masters - itinerant teachers, at the beginning of the 18th century marked the beginning of the modern dance school. giving at home, a dance teacher was considered a great honor. Master dancers were usually hired for a month.

Early 19th century Irish villages and small towns also became popular competitions . The big pie was placed in the center of the dance floor and served as a prize for the best dancer. The solo dance style was called Sean-nos. Solo dances performed by masters. In mass group dances rethought Irish-style French quadrilles and cotillions.

Contemporary period in Irish dance starts from the end of the 19th century in connection with the creation of the Gaelic League. She put before her goal: the preservation and development of the Irish language and culture, music and dance. Their painstaking work often came down to only to preserve and enrich the existing traditions, but also to their artificial association within the framework of a new, often controversial, but the same set of rules for all. However, such a sporty approach was very convenient for increasing entertainment and for holding competitions.

Irish Dancing Commission founded in 1929 for establishing uniform rules for dancing, holding competitions and refereeing. As a result, the dance technique has changed significantly. Dance schools were able to use large halls and wide stage. Dancers no longer limit themselves in space and movement, and this enriched Irish dancing many new steps and jumps, including passages throughout scene. The rule was finally fixed to keep hands strictly along the body. But some other provisions still exist. since. Starting from the 20s-30s. thanks to the Gaelic Women's League became much more likely to participate in competitions and teach in dance schools. Well defined sequence performed steps became the basis for group set dances and descended from them during the creation of the Gaelic league of kaylee dances, which developed from elements of step dances and French quadrilles.

Varieties of Irish dances

Three main types of Irish dance: solo, ceili and set . Solo dance mainly acts as a spectacle, prepared masters, or as a competitive sport. It requires professionalism and many years of experience. Kayleigh, credit to the Gaelic League, this is a group dances of Irish folklore layers - long dances in a line and dances in a circle, and dances created artificially. For Kaylie characteristic jumps and hands tightly pressed to the body - "hands at the seams. "

Set dancing appeared a little after Irish soldiers returning from Napoleon's wars brought with a quadrille - four couples opposite each other, forming square. Quadrille with increased tempo and proper Irish movements and became known as a set. Sets consist of figures - movements performed in a certain sequence. Number figures can be different - from two to six, and each with its own size - jig (6/8), reel (4/4) or hornpipe (4/4). There are no jumps in the set, typical for step dances, but due to many varieties of steps dance looks very diverse.

Initially, Irish dances were performed only by men. . When appeared step , women were not trusted with him either. Now everything mixed up. But, nevertheless, the most spectacular in the championships competitions of young dancers from the age of twenty are recognized years and older - it is for their performances that full halls. Despite the dancers' commitment to the traditions of the Irish dance art, in recent years has gained popularity ballet finger technique: they walk in hard shoes, standing on socks, which is contraindicated for children under twelve years of age.

Irish dancing continues to conquer the world today . Dance schools, the program of which includes national Irish dances attract many students not only in Ireland itself, but also in many other countries. Regularly there are four major competitions in the world - National American Championship, All-Ireland Championship, UK Championship and the World Championship. Traditionally, the World Cup is held in Ireland, and thousands of dancers come to it, for whom a worthy the result in the championship could be the beginning of a stellar career. For example, at 1998 World Championship held in Ennis (Ennis), brought together three thousand participants and another seven thousand trainers, teachers and fans. I wonder what in the championship can take part a dancer of any level, whether a beginner amateur or high-class professional.

Divadance Studio, St. Petersburg.

Designers: Zhuzha
© 2005 by Zhuzha

Ireland has always been famous for its unsurpassed dance culture, but recently the interest of the world community has increased even more thanks to spectacular shows that use Irish dance in modern processing.

The history of the creation of dance art

This culture has passed its thousand-year history and, according to many researchers, originated from the time of the Celtic peoples who founded their state on the territory of modern Ireland.

The most ancient image reminiscent of an Irish dance is the Celtic Sean-Nos performed by the Gauls who lived on these islands in the distant past.

The first mention of dances similar to today's modern dances was dated around the eleventh century.

A little later, under the influence of the Norman conquerors, a completely different performance culture began to emerge - a group of people leading a round dance. And in palaces and at balls, Irish dance began to gain its popularity already in the sixteenth century.

A little later, about two centuries later, the first dance teachers appeared, thanks to whom many types and varieties of today's modern variations arose. But at the same time, a terrible oppression of this culture began, so the performance of the dances was kept in strict secrecy. The church considered dance art to be something obscene. Many historians agreed that the Irish dance acquired the characteristic motionless position of the hands on the belt precisely after the Christian priests announced that dancing in this way was indecent and inappropriate, reminiscent of sacrilege or an invisible connection with a demon.

Modern look

Already in the nineteenth century, various competitions began to gain popularity in small villages and towns, the prize for which could be a big pie. The modern period in dance art begins at the end of the same century. The Gaelic League was created, which set itself the goal of preserving the Irish musical culture, which had been oppressed for the last one and a half centuries, at all costs.

Dance rules were established in 1929, then appeared by the Irish Commission, which acted in various competitions. As a result, the technique has changed significantly - modern Irish dances are performed on it to this day. In the 30s, women began to take part in productions more often and got the opportunity to teach in educational institutions where they taught dance art.

Solo performances

Irish dancing has many varieties and types. An amazing pattern of movements can be seen in the performance of solo dancers. They are a real embodiment of a certain grace and lightness, but at the same time, energy and rhythm. Both soft and hard shoes are suitable for solo. It can look like laced ballet shoes or boots with heels, depending on who it is intended for (men's and women's).

How to dance Irish dance, many competitive dancers learn from childhood to a variety of national melodies (reels, jigs, hornpipes) that are used for solo performances. They all have their differences, but the generalizing features are arms pressed to the sides and a beautiful posture with a motionless torso. This is done in order to pay as much attention as possible to all the complexity and clarity with which the dancers' legs move.


It is worth highlighting, as a separate category of solo Irish dances, traditional sets. They are performed in hard shoes and represent a standard set of movements. As the Irish dance set is called, so is the name of the melody to which it is danced.

There is also an unconventional version of this style, performed to a slow tune by open level dancers. The set of movements may depend on the imagination of the teacher or the wishes of the performer.

Group dances

This variety is distinguished by the fact that the dancers stand opposite each other, thus forming a square, mainly the famous quadrilles. They are not natively Irish, so their movements may be present in various European styles. The differences between the dances are in the number of figures, which can vary from three to six.

In the 1980s this form became widely known to the public and was taught in many dance schools. Today, social group dances are performed at a very high speed and in a kind of wild manner.


This word translated from literally sounds like "a fun holiday with music and dancing." At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new style of group performances was also called by this term, which has survived to our time.

Caylee is traditionally danced in soft shoes and, unlike the solo dances, the dancers use hand movement. The main thing in its execution is the full interaction of all partners.

Basically, this type of dance is performed to jigs and reels. They include a different number of dancers: from four to sixteen. Variations can be very different, but often these are two or four pairs of people standing opposite each other. All types of keili can be conditionally divided into linear (progressive) or curly. The former imply that all the dancers stand in the form of one large and long line. When they dance the entire full cycle, they move one position, respectively, they already perform the next stage of the dance with a new partner.

The second type of keili is most often found at competitions or representative events. Various choreographic performances led to the fact that this category of dances began to look like real spectacular shows that won the hearts of many viewers.

Nowadays people of different ages can dance ceili at various parties. And no matter in what manner and at what level they will be performed - an amazing feeling from freedom of movement and fervent rhythm will always arise in anyone dancing this dance.

It is believed that Irish dances are in no way inferior in their passion to Oriental dances, they are simply performed in a more intelligent and secretive manner.

It turns out that the Irish step occupies one of the main steps among many dance and stage shows.

The motifs to which Irish modern sets and square dances, as well as other forms of this art, are played mainly on bagpipes, violin and accordion, as a result, a rather groovy and perky melody is obtained.

The Irish themselves say that the best dances are Irish dances, which symbolize the strong spirit and unyielding will of this people.

Irish Stepdance ). Their distinguishing feature is fast and clear foot movements while remaining motionless body and arms. Irish solo dances were created by Irish dance masters in the 18th-19th centuries and rather rigidly standardized at the beginning of the 20th century in Ireland as a result of the activities of the Gaelic League, which eventually made it possible to create a numerous school of masters capable of performing quite complex dance techniques. It is on this technique that the spectacle of Riverdance and similar shows is based.

  • Irish kaylee (Irl. céilí ) - pair and group dances based on the standard steps of Irish solo dances. Keili schemes are also formalized by the Irish Dancing Commission.
  • Choreographed Figure Dances ) are based on standard Irish solo dances and caylee figures, but are focused on the mass performance of many dancers at once within the framework of staged shows, and therefore allow various deviations from the standards in order to increase entertainment. As a result of the development of this particular direction, Riverdance and other equally famous Irish dance shows were created.
  • Set Dancing ) - paired Irish social dances. Unlike the ceili, they are based on the relatively simple steps of French quadrilles.
  • Shan-nose (Irl. sean-nós ) - a specific style of performance of traditional Irish songs and dances, not affected by the activities of dance masters and the Gaelic League, and preserved in the Irish region of Connemara.
  • All types of Irish dances are performed exclusively to traditional Irish dance tunes: reels, jigs and hornpipes.

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      ✪ Irish dancing. Why do the Irish dance like this


    Varieties of Irish dances according to melody and time signature

    Jig (jig)

    Hornpipe (hornpipe)

    Researchers believe that the hornpipe originated from Elizabethan England, where it was performed as a stage performance. In Ireland it is danced quite differently and has been performed in 2/4 or 4/4 music since the mid-eighteenth century. Performed in hard shoes.


    The first information about Irish dances dates back to the 11th century. Since that time, there is the first data on the dancing festivities of the Irish peasants, which are called feis, (pronounced " fesh "), but descriptions of the dances themselves first appeared in the middle of the 16th century. and were rather lengthy and obscure. It is not entirely clear which of the dances described at that time were actually Irish, and which appeared in Ireland under the influence of French and Scottish dances. However, all ancient Irish dances were characterized by a fast pace and side steps.

    During the period of the English colonization of Ireland, the mother country continuously persecuted all manifestations of Irish culture. "punitive laws", which were introduced by the British in the middle of the XVII century. forbade the teaching of anything to the Irish, including music and dance. Therefore, for more than 150 years, Irish dancing has been taught in secret. Dancing culture existed in the form of clandestine classes held in the villages by itinerant dance teachers (so-called "dance masters") and in the form of large village parties in which people danced in groups, often under the guidance of the same masters.

    Some of the dance masters at the end of the 18th century. began to create the first dance schools, of which the most famous were schools in the South (in the province of Munster) in the counties of Kerry, Cork and Limerick. There were famous schools in other cities. Each master could invent his own movements (jumps, jumps, turns). Different schools differed in the set of movements used in dances.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, in the process of the “Gaelic revival”, a special division of the Gaelic league (subsequently spun off into a separate organization - the Commission on Irish dances) was engaged in the study and standardization of traditional Irish dances with the aim of their further popularization among the Irish population (the League deliberately ignored dances, whose foreign roots were very noticeable - for example, set dances that were quite popular in Ireland were ignored). The League adopted the southern (“Munster”) dance tradition as the basis for it, as the most pronounced in technical terms. During the activities of the League were standardized:

    • Irish solo dances (both traditional tunes and special dance sets)
    • group kaylee dancing .

    Since then, and to this day, there is a huge system of dance schools all over the world teaching these standardized ("modern") Irish dances, as well as a system

    In Ireland, there is a belief that the hills are the gateway to another world. A world inhabited by fairies (faeries). It is not uncommon for people and hill dwellers to meet. And always such meetings promise something unusual. Often, following the charm of the fairies, people follow them to a magical land, and return after many, many years, being already very old people. Those who did not succumb to temptations, or earned the gratitude of the fairies, acquired all sorts of interesting abilities and, of course, a reliable assistant. But none of those who saw the fairies remained the same.

    March 4, 2018


    With regard to dance, one can say that no one who has seen Irish dance remains the same. And the Irish dance itself is often called the “dance of the wondrous people”. Light, unearthly jumps, gliding steps, swift throws and leg overruns, combined with a calm body, make a mesmerizing impression. Not the usual combination of pride and mischief, dignity and temperament!

    The history of Irish national dance reflects the events that took place with Ireland itself, from the 20th century BC to the 20th century of our era - the migration of peoples and the invasion of conquerors, the change of religions ... Each culture that the Irish came into contact with contributed to their dance tradition. Although today there is only a vague idea of ​​​​the most ancient stage in the development of Irish dances, it is known that the Druids were the first to perform them. Initially, the dance had a ritual meaning: they were performed, praising the sacred trees and the sun. Coming from the mainland to Ireland, the Celts brought with them religious dances, some elements of which have survived to this day.

    The oldest type of Irish dance, which has survived to this day, is called Sean-Nos. It traces its origins to the Celts who lived in the British Isles from 2000 BC. and up to 200 AD. Ancient chronicles testify that this dance is of Irish origin, although sailors from distant lands, North Africa and Spain, who visited local ports, for example, in Limerick, brought their own national features to it. Sean-Nos competitions are still held today. This dance is most popular in Western Ireland.

    Approximately 400 years after the conversion of local residents to Christianity, Catholic priests continued to widely use elements of national culture in their services. Holy Scripture was decorated with Celtic archaic ornaments; Celtic rituals and dances accompanied Christian holidays. In the 12th century, on the wave of the Anglo-Norman conquest, Norman traditions, customs and culture came to Ireland, including the most popular dance of the time, Carol. The leader of the party in Carol stands in the center of the circle and sings a song that is picked up by the dancers surrounding him in a round dance. Carol's style greatly influenced the development of Irish dance.

    By the 16th century, three main types of Irish dances were already mentioned in the chronicles: Irish Hey, Rinnce Fada and Trenchmore. One of the oldest descriptions of the national dance is contained in a letter from Sir Henry Sidney to Queen Elizabeth I, who was "very impressed with Irish melodies, as well as dances." Sydney described his observations of people dancing in the clearing, noting that the participants were dancing in two lines. This suggests that an English knight saw an early version of the Rinnce Fada dance.

    By the middle of the 16th century, folk dances migrated to the ceremonial halls of palaces and castles. Some of them, adapted in the English manner, gained popularity at Her Majesty's court. Among them was the Trenchmore, a variant of an old peasant dance. Around the same time, Irish Hey gained popularity.

    Due to the oppression and persecution of Irish culture, which began in the 18th century, national dances were performed for a long time only under the cloak of strict secrecy. A proverb of that time says: "The dancer dances until he returns to the village." Moreover, folk dances were strongly condemned by the Christian church. The priests called them "mad" and "bringing misfortune." Some historians believe that the characteristic motionless position of the hands on the belt appeared in Irish dance after the church declared the movements of the hands obscene.

    In the 18th century, “dance teachers” appeared in Ireland, with whom the era of the revival of dance traditions is associated. It is not known where this movement first originated, but it played a decisive role in the preservation and development of ancient customs. Teachers wandered around the villages, teaching dances to local peasants. The dance teachers were dressed in bright national costumes. Often they arranged competitions with each other, which usually ended only when one of them collapsed in exhaustion. Many dance teachers also taught musical instruments, swordsmanship, or good manners.

    Varieties of Irish Dance:

    Solo Dances

    Solo dances were developed by dance masters in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and have continued to develop both physically and artistically ever since. Today they express the greatest freedom of expression, excellent mood, a true combination of splendor, lightness and power of movement, achieved by years of hard work. Irish solo dances in their modern form include jig, hornpipe, reel and set dances.

    The Jig

    As a solo dance, the jig can be performed in various forms: Slip (The Slip Jig) or Hop (The Hop Jig) The jig is currently danced exclusively by women, but until about 1950 this dance was performed competitions among both men and doubles. The slip jig, danced on 9/8, is the most elegant and graceful dance performed in soft shoes and highlighted in the ”Riverdance” show. The Single Jig is currently performed as a light dance (no beats or sound) on 6/8 and on rare occasions on 12/8. Double jig (The Double Jig) can be danced as a light dance (in soft shoes), and in hard shoes with rhythm tapping. If it is danced with stiff shoes, then sometimes it refers to The Treble Jig, or The Heavy Jig, or The Double Jig, which are danced on 6/8. The Heavy Jig is the only one that is danced exclusively in hard shoes, so that the dancer can especially emphasize the dance with sound and rhythm.

    The Hornpipe

    In Ireland it is danced quite differently and has been played in 2/4 or 4/4 music since the mid-eighteenth century. It is danced in hard shoes and is one of the most popular Irish dances in the world today.

    The Reel

    Most of the reel steps are performed under double reel, while single reel melodies are used more for simple steps used by beginner dancers. They are performed to 4/4 music and danced in soft shoes. The treble reel is danced in hard shoes. While it has become quite popular around the world with audiences who have seen "Riverdance" and other Irish dance shows, it is rarely (if ever) performed in competition. This dance, with its fast rhythmic beats and spectacular movements, enthralled millions of viewers around the world when it was first performed as the number "Riverdance" during the Eurovision Song Contest. It can be said that in a few minutes this performance turned everything in Irish dancing upside down and provided them with more public recognition and respect than in the previous seventy years. The treble reel style gained popularity through the efforts of The National Folk Theater (Siamas Tire) under the artistic direction of Rev. Pat Ahern and teacher Patrica Hanafin of Tralee.

    Solo Set Dances

    Solo Set Dances are performed in hard shoes to special set music or pieces of dance melodies and many date from the mid-nineteenth century. Set music differs from the usual jig or hornpipe in that the latter strictly correspond to the 8-bar structure. Set melodies usually consist of two parts, which are divided by dancers into “the step” (the first part) and “the set” (the second part), while both the step and the set may not correspond to the 8-bar structure. In a set dance, the performer dances to a strictly defined music, so that the movements and rhythm of the dance exactly match the accompanying melody. Below are some of the solo set dances: On 2/4 - The Blackbird, Downfall of Paris, King of The Fairies, The Lodge Road, Rodneys Glory. On 6/8 - The Blackthorn Stick, The Drunken Gauger, The Three Sea Captains, The Orange Rogue, Planxty Drury, Rub The Bag, St Patrick's Day. On 4/4 - The Garden of Daises, The Hunt, Kilkenny Races, Madame Bonaparte, The Job of Journeywork, Youghal Harbour.

    Ceilis (Irish Group Dances)

    Keilis dances are group dances that are performed both in competitions and at ceilis (a type of community dance, dance party). Keili are a collection of dances with different formations - round dances, long line dances and long column dances. Thirty of them are described in the first, second and third parts of the Irish Dance Commission's An Rince Foirne, and knowledge of these thirty dances is a prerequisite for becoming an Irish dance teacher. They are danced in the same way throughout the worldwide "Irish" dance community, with minor local variations. The dances performed during ceilis and competitions may vary slightly, a good example being the square in the Fairy Reel. The most common dances in competitions are 4-hand and 8-hand jigs and reels.

    Social Group Set Dances

    These dances, known as sets or half sets, are derived in their variety from square dances, dances in which couples stand opposite each other in a square. The quadrille was very popular in Napoleonic Paris. The victorious armies of Wellington became acquainted with them and then introduced them into use in England and Ireland. Dance masters adapted these dances to the already existing traditional steps and accelerated the pace to the usual reels and jig. Differences existed in the number of figures, the number of which ranged from three to six, while initially there were five. In the original quadrilles, the presence of five figures was determined by the music on 6/8 and 2/4.

    Group dances were practically eradicated in the first seventy years of the twentieth century, as they were considered foreign by the Gaelic League. In recent years, set dances such as the Kerry and Clare sets have made a comeback in the Irish dance arena and have become quite popular among the middle aged.

    Since these dances are not typically Irish, a similar dance style and detailed steps can be found in many European countries, especially Russia. Today, group set dances are often danced at a very high speed and in a wild manner bearing no resemblance to the original sets, which are characterized by strict discipline and good manners determined by their character (sets).

    Today Irish dancing has conquered the whole world. Dance schools attract many students not only in Ireland itself, but also in many other countries. Irish dancing has become popular everywhere. Four major competitions are regularly held - the American National Championship, the All-Ireland Championship, the British Championship and the World Championship. By tradition, the World Championship is held in Ireland, and thousands of dancers come to it, for whom a worthy result at the championship can be the beginning of a stellar career. For example, at 1998 World Championship, held in Ennis (Ennis), brought together three thousand participants and another seven thousand coaches, teachers and fans.


    Irish dances are a traditional dance group that originated in Ireland in the 18th and 20th centuries and gained great popularity around the globe thanks to the Riverdance show, as well as other dance shows that followed. behind him.

    Irish dances are classified as follows:

    Only Irish traditional melodies are performed: jigs, reels, hornpipes.

    • Solo - Irish Stepdance - their distinctive feature is a clear movement of the legs, the body and arms remain motionless. They were created by Irish masters in the 18th and 20th centuries and are strictly standardized by the Irish Dance Commission. Standardization came at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the activities of the Gaelic League, this allowed the creation of schools of masters who are able to perform complex techniques. It is on the solo direction that the entertainment of Riverdance, as well as shows like it, is based;
    • Keili - céilí - group or pair, the base of which is based on the standard steps of the solo direction. Caylee standardization is also available;
    • Choreographed Figure Dances - the base is made up of a solo performance and kaylee figures, but the focus is on the performance of several performers at once, which is part of a staged show. Deviations from the standards are allowed in order to increase entertainment. Riverdance was born thanks to this direction;
    • Set dances - Set Dancing - social steam rooms, the base is made up of simple steps of French quadrilles;
    • Shan-nose - sean-nós - this style is special, it was not affected by the activities of the Gaelic League and masters. This species has survived in the Connemara region, Ireland.

    Varieties, depending on the rhythm and melody:

    • Jig - jig - this melody has an old Celtic origin, the jig depends on the speed of the melody: slip jig, light (double) jig, single jig, treble jig. The size of the music is 6/8, only the slip jig has a rhythm of 9/8, performed only in soft shoes.
    • Reel - reel - its occurrence occurs approximately in the second half of the 18th century, Scotland. The size of the music is 4/4, if the dance is performed only in soft shoes, then it is called light reel, if in hard shoes it is called treble reel. In special boots, a “soft” male reel is usually performed, the boots have a heel, but there is no heel on the toe of the boot.
    • Hornpipe - hornpipe - the researchers suggest that he came from England, during the reign of Elizabeth, where it was performed as a stage performance. On the territory of Ireland, the dance is performed differently, in size 4/4 and 2/4, hard shoes are required.


    The first mention dates back to the 9th century, mentions the first festivities of the peasants, who were called fesh, but the description, specifically Irish, appeared in the 16th century, it was very obscure. It is difficult to say from the references which of them could be attributed to the Irish, and which to those that arose under the influence of the Scottish and French. But one thing was the same for everyone - side steps and a fast pace.

    When Ireland was a colony, culture was constantly persecuted, in the "punitive laws" it was forbidden to teach the Irish to dance and music. For 150 years, the Irish learned secretly with the help of wandering masters, performed at rural parties, the leadership of which also belonged to the masters.

    At the end of the 18th century, the masters began to create their first schools, the most famous were in the province of Munster, in the counties of Limerick, Cork, Kerry. Famous schools also existed in other cities. Masters came up with their own movements (jumps, jumps, turns). Schools differed in the set of movements used.

    The beginning of the 20th century was marked by a "Gaelic revival", the Gaelic League, which then became a separate organization - the Irish Dance Commission. It was she who began the study of traditional dances and their standardization, in order to then popularize them among the population. Those who carried foreign roots, for example, set ones, were deliberately excluded. The basis was the "Munster" tradition, it was technically the most pronounced. As a result, solo dances and group ceilis became standardized.

    Since then, there has been a system around the world that has been followed by Irish dance schools. There are competitions that constantly give rise to future masters.

    Solos performed with other techniques are called "shan-nos", which means "old way". They have two directions: the dances of the Connemara region and those that have been preserved among emigrants in North America.

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