Couple dances arose in the twelfth century as a break up of the line into pairs in procession, and/or in response to the courtly-love concept in the songs of the Troubadours, which developed within the courts of Europe presenting differentiation from court and folk dance. In particular, French cotillions a square dance for four couples developed and moved to England, America and Ireland as did the later quadrilles (sets). In Irish dance history specifically: haye, rinnce fada and rinnce mor are the three names used to referring to the action in old literature.
The first reference to dance in the Irish language is 1588. Rinnce appears first in 1609 amd damhsa ten years later. HB15 It is not until the 17thC that we have any real documention referring to dance not just confined to Ireland worldwide. Citm: The common people in Ireland may have been dancing more free-form, simple dance, to fiddle and pipes. As well as courting, dancing had important social ritual functions. Rinnce fada is described as being performed on May-eve and dancing is associated with other important times are the year, e. g.
Bealtaine, births, weddings, wakes. It is a matter of speculation whether country dances had an identifiably Irish form, but seems highly likely that group dance was part of the native Irish tradition in this period. Step dance itself is an accurate, rhythmic performance genre that focuses chiefly in predetermined leg movements. Done either in group or solo. hard shoes enhance the percussive nature of the treble reel, jig, hornpipe and solo set dances whereas soft shoes emphasise the graceful, airborne nature of the reel, slip/single/light jig.
The primary solo Irish step dances are the jig, reel and hornpipe. The jig is first mentioned in Ireland in 1674. Four variants exist within Irish dance traditions: double, single, slide and slip, the most common of these being the double. Double: most common dance tune after the reel. 6/8 time characterised by rhythmic pattern of groups of three quavers. While jig tempo is generally lively when played solo, competitive dancers usually call for a greatly reduced tempo in order to execute their complicated footwork.
Single: either 6/8 or 12/8 time. Crotchet followed by quaver. Associated with specific soft-shoe solo dance still performed in competitions today, usually by female dancers. A fast version of the tune is referred to as a slide and is used in the dancing of sets. Slide: essentially dance music. Long-short rhythm of tune is echoed by movements of dancers. Dancing of sets and, along with the polka is particularly associated with music and dance traditions of Sliabh Luachra, where it is brisk tempo of 12/8 tunes that dominates. Slip: 9/8 time.
Distinct from other jig types usually in single form, continues to be danced in competitions usually by females in soft shoes. The reel is done to the music of tune type with same name and given its present dominance in music and dance, it may seem surprising that the reel is a relative latecomer to the Irish scene. Scholars are agreed that the reel as a dance tempo with its associated faster figures and stepping did not attain universal popularity in Ireland until the late eighteenth century, whereas across the water in Scotland it had long existed in many forms.
The hornpipe originates from the mid eighteenth century and has maritime connections. The later, common time version made its way to Ireland where it was adopted by the dancing masters as a showpiece. Heavy stepping deemed it unsuitable for female dancers and for a number of years was solely male domain. Today, is used in solo dance and certain set-dances. Most likely came from England in late 1700s. There it had taken its present form in 1760s and was a figure dance, its older forms in 3/2 time and was performed between acts of plays usually by professional dancers.
In Ireland, it became the supreme display of intricate footwork. HB: A sole reference in 1718 to the hornpipe is not necessarily a solo dance, as the measure was also used in some country dances. Very different initially to what it is known as. Other dances include: The German is a variant of a nineteenth century popular continental schottische, adopted as a couple dance in Co. Donegal, in 4/4 time and similar in tempo to a barn dance. Mazurka 231: is in ? time and is a round dance done by four couples, implemented more vigorously than the sensuous waltz.
Adopted into Donegal tradition, it is one of the many local couple dances but is no longer commonly danced. Barn dance 25: is a form of round the hall social dance most popular up to 1950s that is generally performed to hornpipe time (4/4), but in relation to marching practice is danced to 6/8 time in north Co. Antrim. March 228: among the most ancient music forms in any country. Originally related to military activities and incorporated into dance in Ireland to utilise the number of tunes so called.
Quick march used in popular early 1900s dance as the quickstep. in Irish tradition most common in 4/4, 2/4 and 6/8. During the ceili band ear many common song melodies were recruited as march tunes. Because of the redundancy of the bulk of traditional music in dancing entertainment, the march has fallen out of popularity and will almost never be heard played except in a limited fashion in ceili dances. Sean-nos 383: old style. traditional style of solo step dance. Freedom of arm movement, steps do not follow prescribed pattern and stepping is close to the floor.
Public presentation highlighted one of Connemara culture features which was unrecognised by and possibly even unknown to the authorities of Gaelic League. Prior to the 1970s the local term was simply an bhatrail (the battering) and was on verge of extinction but such was the enthusiasm engendered by its new community staging, that many local people began to see this dance as a badge of culteral identity and a source of pride. Set dance 346: a set of quadrilles and comprises a combination of irish dancing steps and French dance movements, danced to irish music.
Developed by 18C dancing-masters who travelled in various parts of Ireland. Originally taught solo step dancing and created group or figure dances for their less talented pupils. In time the also included new dances such as the minuet, cotillions, and quadrilles. Brought from France, to England, Scotland then Ireland by military personnel and other travellers of the time. Dancing masters first taught them to upper classes in big country houses and later to the ordinary people in barns or at crossroads in the summer.
Irish sets have most likely evolved from these or from other quadrilles that are no longer popularly danced. Today, most of the sets are named after their local town or area. Historically, set dancing has been frowned upon by religious authorities of all denominations. Set dancing had been banned too by the Gaelic League in the early 20C and new ceili dances were taught by the Dancing Commission. It enjoyed a remarkable revival all over Ireland throughout late 20C, attributable to work of individual set-dance teachers, and also to CCE and the GAA network of set-dance competitions since the 1970s.
23. Main event of 18th C in dance terms introduction of reel and hornpipe measures. 19th C saw arrival of quadrille. 25. Quadrille sets (or half sets for 2 couples), were initially ballroom dances, moved from polite society (via dance masters or local enthusiasts) to country houses of rural Ireland and urban centres. Far from adopting these new dances, the Irish dance tradition absorbed them and made them something new in terms of figures, musical tempo and stepping.
This cross fertilisation of new imports with elements of older dances -> result in a new and identifiably Irish product. 27. Certain areas became associated with particular sets. 28. Apart from sets, most popular new dances in 19th C were ballroom dances such as the scottische, barndance, military two-step and waltz. When reached areas where traditional dance was strong, absorbed into the repertoire and subtly changed by effects of Irish stepping and local musical tastes. Fintan Vallely: The Companion to Irish Traditional Music.