Speaking about the UK, we usually mean only English. But we don’t pay much attention to other nations. Although every nation has it’s own individuality and special interest. So, we decided to raise people’s awareness in learning other cultures. So, now we are going to make an excursion to the culture of Ireland. Thus, we would like to speak about Irish dances.
Irish dances can be divided into social dances and performance dances. Social dances include ceili and sets of dances. Ceili are usually danced in pairs from 2 to 8 people. Irish solo dances refer to performance dances. The distinctive feature of Irish step dances, which were popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance, are quick and precise feet movements remaining motionless body and hands.
The first references about Irish dances back to the XI century. Since then we have materials about the dance parties of the Irish peasants, which were called feis, but the description of the dances appeared only in the middle of the XVI century, and it was rather uncertain.
During the British colonization persecution on all kinds of Irish culture intensified. Punitive laws, which were introduced by the British in the middle of the XVII century, forbade teaching Irish anything including music and dances. So, for more then 150 years Irish dances were taught secretly. Mass dances were also banned by Catholic priests who were very powerful in this time.
The appearance of dance masters at the beginning of XVIII century established modern dance school. The best dancers began to create their own dance schools. The most famous were in Kerry, Cork and Limerick.
Jig It was firstly mentioned in the materials of the ancient history of Ireland. There are several variations of jigs: single (or soft), double jig, treble jig and slip jig. The music size of jig is 6/8. The dance includes a lot of jumps, pirouettes and swings. Several years ago only women have danced slip jig. But now men also participate in this kind of jig.
Reel Reel arose in 50th years of 18th century in Scotland. It is danced by both women and men. Women dance reel in soft shoes, men – in special “reel shoes” The music size or reel is 4/4.
Hornpipe It a ppeared about 1760 from the British miniatures. At first it was danced exclusively by men in boots with stiff soles, but now it is performed by men and women. It is said that the first women to dance hornpipe were from county Cork. The m usic Hornpipe size is 4 / 4.
Shoes Footwear for the Irish dance is divided into two types: soft shoes and hard shoes. Soft shoes (ghillies or pumps) are lightweight leather slippers with no heel, with long laces. Slippers are usually the same for both legs. Usually they are black, but you can find a color pair for performances. At Irish dance lessons it can be easily replace d by ballerinas. For better retention on leg s they have a leather strap.
Performance’s costume Women’s costume for the Irish step dance is often represented by a short dress with a wide skirt because this form of dance focuses on movements of the legs. The dress is bright and multicolored, decorated with Celtic designs. M en’s costume for the Irish ste p dance is a narrow trousers and shirt, often with large sleeves. In modern Irish dance beginners perform in the "clothes for the trainings "- a black skirt and blouse with long sleeves for the girls, trousers and shirt for boys .
Michael Ryan Flatley Michael Ryan Flatley is an Irish-American dancer, choreographer, musician and producer, known for staging dance show “ Lord of the Dance ” and “ Feet of Flames ” . He became a recordsman of Guinness’ book in 1989 and 1998 as the faster step-dancer in the world. His record is 35 beats per second. The legs of Michael Flatley are insured for 40 million dollars. Flatley lives in Fermoy, in the south of Ireland. He is married on Niamh O'Brien, his partner in dancing and he ha s a son.
Riverdance Riverdance firstly appeared at Eurovision Song Contest on 30 April, 1994. The Irish dancing champions Jean Butler and Michael Flatley participated in this performance. The first Riverdance show was held in Point Theatre on 19 February,1995. But soon Michael Flatley left Riverdance and Colin Dunne became a new main dancer. Riverdance still perform all over the world, but in reduced consistency.
Irish dances in Russia Although, Irish dances are famous and popular in Russia, not every city possesses opportunity for practicing in it. You can find schools, specialized in Irish dances, only in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Besides, the trainings are too expensive. So, not every person in Russia can afford to study it. Nevertheless, Irish step-shows usually visit our country and not only main cities. And they still have a great popularity with Russian audience.
Making our project we become especially interested in Irish culture. So, we explored not only Irish dances, but also Irish music, which you can hear during our speech. We were eager to try Irish dances. So, we were looking for special schools in our city. But, as you can guess, the results of our attempts were disappointing. Nevertheless we are sure that if the opportunity will be, we‘ll generally try.