Irish Dance In Irish Culture

1480 Words 6 Pages
Dance plays an extremely large part in Irish culture. It serves as a basis for Irish ritual, as it has not only been used in courtly ceremonies but has also been seen in funeral rituals throughout Irish history. Today, Irish step dancing is an extremely serious and competitive sport. Although traditional Irish dance has undergone many changes to reach its current grandeur, Irish dance has a humble beginning as a social activity designed to bring people together.
The first mention of Irish dance in history is seen in a letter written by Sir James Sydney to Queen Elizabeth I in 1596. Arthur Flynn summarizes Sir James’ statements “Sydney went on to describe the dance formation, observing the dancers in two straight lines which suggests that
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In the rural regions of Ireland cross road dances were held, members of remote villages would journey to meet at a central location where large social dances would take place, the dances present at these events included the Moinin jig and reels. A competitive atmosphere was also present at the cross road dances as couples would often compete to “out dance” each other in friendly step dancing competitions. Although the atmospheres of the social gatherings were very different, all Irish dance was influenced by the expertise of the dancing master. Each dancing master was responsible for a separate region of Ireland. Each master acted as a nomadic figure and traveled from village to village teaching the current dance styles and techniques. Expert Helen Brennan states, “The dancing masters taught dance in the ‘big houses’ of the gentry, in towns, and amongst the country people. Concepts of ‘refinement’ were very important to them. They sought to modify the native dance style. Arm movements, which had been a feature of Moinin jigs, were suppressed. High kicks, finger snapping and other ebullient movements were curtailed or discouraged. The dancing masters also developed group dances which combined …show more content…
The purpose of the Gaelic League was to protect and promote traditional Irish language and culture. The members of the Gaelic League were fearful that the youth of Ireland was becoming “anglicized” or over influenced by the culture of England, Scotland, and mainland Europe. In an effort to preserve what was left of Irish culture, a series of laws were enforced to promote traditional Irish culture and restrict any outside influence. The Gaelic League had great success in promoting and preserving the traditional Irish language but felt that in order to truly preserve the traditional Irish culture, it must also influence other sectors of Irish society. According to author Nicholas Carolan, the members of the Gaelic League felt that dance and music were a crucial social dimension of Irish culture. “This relationship between dance and language was formalized in 1930 with the foundation in Dublin of An Coinmisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (the commission for Irish dances), an agency of the League which was intended to promote and regulate Irish traditional group dancing and solo step-dancing through the organization of classes, schools, exams, festivals and competitions.” The Gaelic League influenced Irish dance by developing ceilis, a concept borrowed from the Scottish dances in London. Ceili dances were social events that allowed for the performance and enjoyment of social dances regulated by the league. The classes, and festivals put in

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