River Dancing

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  1. Irish stepdance
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  3. Irish dance - Wikipedia

CLRG created certifications for dance teachers and began to hold examinations for adjudicators of feisanna. In the 19th century, the Irish diaspora had spread Irish dance all over the world, especially to North America and Australia. However, schools and feiseanna were not established until the early s: The first classes in stepdancing were held there by the Philadelphia-born John McNamara.

According to the BBC's A Short History of Irish Dance , "The nature of the Irish dance tradition has changed and adapted over the centuries to accommodate and reflect changing populations and the fusion of new cultures. The history of Irish dancing is as a result a fascinating one. The popular Irish dance stage shows of the past ten years have reinvigorated this cultural art, and today Irish dancing is healthy, vibrant, and enjoyed by people across the globe.

Sometime in that decade or the one following, a dance teacher had his students compete with arms held firmly down to their sides, hands in fists, to call more attention to the intricacy of the steps. The adjudicator approved by placing the students well. Other teachers and dancers quickly followed the new trend.

Movement of the arms is sometimes incorporated into modern Irish stepdance, although this is generally seen as a hybrid and non-traditional addition and is only done in shows and performances, not competitions. The first television broadcast of Irish stepdance, on CBS in , contributed to the increased popularity of a stepdance style originating in Ulster.

This style, which incorporated balletic movements and high elevation on the toes, gradually usurped the Munster style with fast, low footwork which had prevailed up to that point. The success of Riverdance and other dance shows in the late 20th century influenced the choreography and presentation of stepdance in both competitive and public performance environments. This included the use of simpler costumes and hairstyles for public performance in imitation of the Riverdance styles, and the development of new dance styles, such as hard shoe dances performed to music typically associated with soft shoes.

The techniques involved in Irish stepdance are essentially similar across each of the individual dance styles. The basic style of modern step dance used in competitive contexts evolved from the stylistic features of traditional step dance in Munster. This style is largely performed on the balls of the feet with toes pointed outwards.

Irish stepdances can be placed into two categories. Solo stepdances, which are danced by a single dancer, and group stepdances, which are coordinated with 2 or more dancers.

Irish stepdance

Reel , slip jig , hornpipe , and jig are all types of Irish stepdances and are also types of Irish traditional music. These fall into two broad categories based on the shoes worn: Reels, which are in 2 4 or 4 4 time, and slip jigs, which are in 9 8 time and considered to be the lightest and most graceful of the dances, are soft shoe dances. Three jigs are danced in competition; the light jig, the single jig, which is also called the Hop jig, and the treble jig, which is also called double jig.

Light and single jigs are in 6 8 time, and are soft shoes dances, while the treble jig is hard shoe, danced in a slow 6 8.

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The last type of jig is the slip jig, which is danced in 9 8 time. There are many dances, which steps vary between schools. The traditional set dances danced in hardshoe like St. Patrick's Day and the Blackbird, among others, are the only dances that all schools have the same steps. The actual steps in Irish stepdance are usually unique to each school or dance teacher. Steps are developed by Irish dance teachers for students of their school.


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Each dance is built out of the same basic elements, or steps, but the dance itself is unique, and new dances are being choreographed continuously. For this reason, videotaping of competitions is forbidden under the rules of An Coimisiun. Each step is a sequence of foot movements, leg movements and leaps, which lasts for 8 bars of music. It is traditional for each step to be performed first on the right foot and then on the left foot.

This practice leads to a large proportion of dancers exhibiting a preference for their right leg over their left in dance movements. There are two types of hard shoe dance, the solo dances, which are the hornpipe and treble jig, and the traditional set dances, also called set dances, which are also solo dances, despite having the same name as the social dances. Traditional set dances use the same choreography regardless of the school whereas contemporary sets are choreographed by the teachers.

There are about 30 traditional sets used in modern stepdance, but the traditional sets performed in most levels of competition are St. The remaining traditional set dances are primarily danced at championship levels. These tunes vary in tempo to allow for more difficult steps for higher level dancers. An unusual feature of the set dance tune is that many are " crooked ", with some of the parts, or sections, of the tunes departing from the common 8 bar formula. For example, the "St. Patrick's Day" traditional set music consists of an eight-bar "step," followed by a fourteen-bar "set.

Standardized dances for 4, 6 or 8 dancers are also often found in competition. Many stepdancers never learn the entire dance, as they will never dance the later parts of the dance in competition. In local competition, figure dances may consist of two or three dancers. Standardized book dances for 16 dancers are also rarely offered.

Figure Choreography competitions held at major oireachtasi championships involve more than 8 dancers and are a chance for dance schools to show off novel and intricate group choreography. A word story is read and followed by a six-minute dance performance including costumes, mime and facial expression. In competition, figure dancers are expected to dance their routine in perfect unison, forming seamless yet intricate figures based on their positions relative to each other. The development of Irish stepdance costumes occurred throughout the 20th century alongside the dance style itself.

In more recent years, costumes changed dramatically and departed significantly from traditional designs. Judges at competitions critique the dancers primarily on their performance, but they also take into account presentation.

Irish dance - Wikipedia

In every level of competition the dancers must wear either hard shoes or soft shoes. Boys and girls wear very distinctive costumes. Girls must wear white poodle socks or black tights. Competition dresses have changed in many ways since Irish Dance first appeared. Several generations ago the appropriate dress was simply your "Sunday Best".


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  • In the s ornately embroidered velvet became popular. Other materials include gaberdine and wool. Today many different fabrics are used, including lace , sequins , silk, embroidered organzas and more. Some dresses, mainly solo dresses, have flat backed crystals added for stage appeal.

    Swarovski is being used more frequently. Velvet is also becoming popular again, but in multiple colours with very different, modern embroidery.

    The commission dresses have stiff skirts which can be stiffened with Vilene and are intricately embroidered. Costumes can be simple for the beginning female dancer; they often wear a simple dance skirt and plain blouse or their dancing school's costume.

    The classic and ancient sound of it makes the dancing even more interesting. Along with the clapping of shoes, the music is so peaceful and exciting to watch. The music is really what puts me into the show. It almost feels as if they preparing for war or even praising. The dancers always have smiles and look so happy to up on stage performing.

    That is a unique quality and makes the audience feel like they are there to make the dancers happy rather than the other way around. The manner in which the dancers perform is terrific and entrancing because they have such order and fluidity. They use such leg strength while looking effortless. It is so humbling to watch.

    The creator of River dance portrays the beauty in storytelling through the use of a dancer's legs without much movement of their upper body. It seems like unique to me because this is a dance of passion and love. The performance was transmitted to an estimated million viewers worldwide [5] [6] and earned a standing ovation from the packed theatre of 4, people. Lead dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler transformed the previously chaste and reserved traditional dance form into something else entirely.

    After witnessing the initial enthusiasm for the performance in Ireland, husband and wife production team Moya Doherty and John McColgan decided to take a risk. In November , Riverdance, the original seven-minute version, was invited to perform in London at the prestigious Royal Variety Performance in the presence of Prince Charles. The five-week run was sold out within three days of the tickets going on sale, [7] with tickets reaching record sales of over , In April , video release of Riverdance went straight to No.

    The show attracted a television audience of 20 million, introducing Riverdance to a whole new set of fans. Despite the show's growing success, cracks were beginning to appear in the relationship between the producers and lead dancer Michael Flatley. Flatley had choreographed many of the numbers in the multicultural spectacle, but after the show took off, the two parties clashed over salary and royalty fees.

    On 29 September, days before the show was due to reopen for a second sell-out run at The Apollo, Flatley's TV appearances suddenly became focused on rumours that he was about to walk out. Flatley claimed the dispute had nothing to do with money, but rather creative control of his own choreography.

    No contract was ever signed—despite media reports indicating he had—because Flatley and his management wouldn't agree to terms. Negotiations reached a stalemate by 2 October, [21] and with 21 hours to go before the show's opening, Doherty opted to sack her star, replacing him with Colin Dunne , nine-times World Irish Dancing Champion. As a result, Dunne paired up with original Eurovision troupe member Eileen Martin for the opening night, [24] as they looked to salvage the show and make a name for themselves. On 3 October, Riverdance opened for another six-week sell-out run at The Apollo.

    By overwhelming public demand, the run was extended twice, making a box office record of sold out shows at the venue. Following phenomenal success in Dublin and London in , Riverdance travelled to the United States for the first time in March The show was later extended until the middle of January A number of cast departures occurred following the halcyon period of early The Opening Ceremony performance also featured the longest troupe line ever seen in an Irish dance show, with over dancers.