More on dancing.

More on dancing.

So i’ve done my research and found a studio nearby so that I could learn step-dancing, but I can’t afford tuition at this time. I was talking to a guy at a session a few weeks ago and he mentioned that "watching videos of dancers" would help. What do you guys think?

Also, if it is a good idea, where could I find some good videos of step-dancing? A lot of the videos I find are all flashy and have a-thousand and one different camera angles. Youtube is a bust with all the "ExpertVillage" and "Riverdance" stuff on it.

Lastly, whenever I see a dance competition(movies, documentaries) it sounds like the tunes are in a different style than session tunes. What’s that about?

Re: More on dancing.

Are you wanting to dance now, or did someone give you the daft idea that learning competition stepdancing would help you play?

Competition stepdancing is a really weird scene. As you’ve noticed, the music has its own style. It’s accordion-heavy because an accordion works well solo at a feis so they only have to have one musician for each set of stages. If there’s backup, piano is favored because it makes it easier for little kids to hear the beat. I have no idea why all the Scottish tunes have crept into the feis repertoire.

I think watching sean-nos dancers (and maybe even learning some sean-nos) would be a lot more helpful for session playing. Or find a ceili and get someone to pull you through a couple dances.

Re: More on dancing.

"Are you wanting to dance now, or did someone give you the daft idea that learning competition stepdancing would help you play?"

I’m not really "wanting to dance". I’m just trying to find a way to play for dancers to improve my playing. But if learning how to dance will improve my playing then i’ll find a way to do it.

"I have no idea why all the Scottish tunes have crept into the feis repertoire."

Is that why the music is different? It’s Scottish?

Re: More on dancing ~ DANCE SEAN-NÓS DVD Sale

Look for ‘sean nos’ stepping, on YouTube and there are discussions on it here, with some available vids listed / DVDs… For example ~ currently being offered at a reduced price - $25


steps for traditional improvised dance with Ronan Regan and Maldon Meehan

Going on right now we are offering the Dance Sean-nos DVD for only $25, a savings of $10! This sale is available to all of you who are on the mailing list. Please feel free to forward this email to anybody you think might be interested in this offer.

About the DVD:

88 minutes of pure dancing fun
12 individual sean-nós reel steps, including the Connemara step

Easy to follow instructions
Filmed from behind the dancer as if in a classroom
Reels played in slow and fast tempos for each step
Music provided by Johnny O’Halloran on Melodeon
Live dance session in the Crane Bar in Galway, Ireland
Great way to stay fit!

Here is a link to order the DVD at the $10 off savings:

General information:

It is a shared tradition, related forms dance in Scotland, Wales, England, North America, etc…

Re: More on dancing.

No, the music at a feis is not Scottish, either. Tunes are just played in a way that sounds slightly strange to anyone familiar with the way these tunes are played at a session or on recordings or in any other context, ever. And not in a good way. We watched that documentary on the dance competitions, "Jig," and were struck by how rubbish, really, the tunes sounded.

I would avoid the competition step dancing thing like the plague. If you want to dance, get yourself to a contra-dance, which is probably the closest thing you’ll have in Texas to a ceili. You’ll hear how the phrases of tunes fit together in a whole new way and it’s great fun.

While learning how to step dance might be fun, I don’t see how it would improve your fiddle playing.

If you want to watch a video of some very fine dancing and playing, try this for a start:

Re: More on dancing.

It would do wonders for you piping Doc… 😉

Re: More on dancing.

They do also have ceilis and ceilidhs in Texas, and old time square dancing too. Check them out, and go for what suits you.

Re: More on dancing.

Can anyone recommend any set dancing on youtube ? I often can’t be sure if I am watching ceili dancing or some sort of display.

On a nearby thread I spotted this "…and you get the rhythm rocked back at you from the crowd" from Guernsey Pete. I have also heard a variously attributed quote about "picking out the best dancers on the floor and playing for them". I suppose it is about the way people’s bodies move when doing various dances.

Re: More on dancing.

Just going to a set dance workshop or two can work wonders for your sense of rhythm and phrasing, and these are often available at festivals. You might have to dig into the pockets to get to one, but it’s worth it for so many reasons, and you’ll love the sessions…

Re: More on dancing.

So what is the difference between all these different types of dancing? I’m really clueless, is ceili dancing similar to sean-nos while stepdancing is somewhat different?

Re: More on dancing.

You’ll find your answers in previous threads Earl, and some links in my details too. But, this might also call for another thread. If we were making comparisons then, as far as Irish traditions, ceili would be closer to the official commission take on competition step dancing and sean nos stepping, also ‘step dancing’, would be more associated with what are called sets, or sets of quadrilles, to distinguish them from solo set dances, which take us back to the Irish dance commission. Sometimes you’ll find a mix of ceili, sets and couple dances, sometimes you’ll find ‘sets only’ or ‘ceili only’ dances. But, maybe a new thread to re-explore all that?

Re: More on dancing.

I learned Irish Step Dancing over half century ago. I can still do a jig, reel, and hornpipe with the best of them. Not easy to learn as an adult. Perhaps Irish dance school near you has an adult class. Search for a Set Dancing group or class, not the same thing as step dancing, but the music is awesome and you can experience how the music and the dancing work together.

Re: More on dancing.

I was expecting a link to youtube video of some moron dancing.

Re: More on dancing.

I’m not a dancer myself (I might be a moron - I’m not qualified to say), but I think that videos would be of quite limited use - unless, perhaps, they are specifically tuition videos. Since dancing is a quintessentially 3-dimensional activity, watching, and participating in, live dancing is the only way to learn properly.

Re: More on dancing.

As a dancer and a (retired) Irish dance competitor, I will recommend *against* learning step dance at a dance school as a way to improve your playing of Irish dance music. What is generally taught in the schools is a children’s sport based on traditional Irish dance forms. The goal is not to dance, but to compete. Music for competitions is played in an ideosyncratic style not used in other settings (sessions, performances, even music competitions).

It is not so much the case now, but back when I started studying Irish dance, adult beginners were unheard of. It took me a long time to find a teacher who would accept me because they did not consider an overweight 30-something a good trophy prospect. It was all about the medals and trophies. I even had to agree to compete to humor my teacher. Over 16 — waaay over 16. I turned out to be a successful competition dancer against girls half my age with up to 10 years more experience because I cracked the judging code. Age, cunning and skill will almost always defeat youth and skill. Approaching Irish step dance competition as a martial art also helped. Winning those medals turned out to be as much fun as if I’d been 10.

Fortunately, I was able to retain a love of actual Irish dancing as well. I started going to ceilidhs, performing (those same competition dances, but for an audience instead of judges), and developing my own choreographies. I could even be persuaded to dance a few steps at a session, just to prove I still had it in me. (I don’t anymore, alas.)

But back to your question. YouTube videos of competition step dancing won’t help much, for either dance or music. Videos of sean. nos dancing will be more useful, as it is more often actual dancing. Perhaps the dance school has a teacher or student who is familiar with ceilidh dancing and who would be willing to teach you some steps in a less formal setting, perhaps for less (or no) money. Are there ceilidhs you can attend? There is usually some instruction at the beginning, and you might find someone who can give you some informal individual instruction. Sometimes there are dance workshops at festivals, and you could not only learn some steps and dances, but you can make some connections for more dancing.

Your idea to learn Irish traditional dancing to better inform your playing of Irish traditional music is excellent. Those jigs, reels, hornpipes — the best known ones — are, after all, dance tunes.

Re: More on dancing.

I figured that step-dancing stuff was wierded out when I saw the dresses and wigs.

"We watched that documentary on the dance competitions, "Jig," and were struck by how rubbish, really, the tunes sounded."

One of my friends that knows i’m into Irish music found that documentary and we watched it together cause him and I like to dance. I was more shocked by the "pageant culture" of it all. It was very interesting.

Thanks for the lovely video SilverSpear. It’s nice to see someone dancing and hear some familiar tunes 🙂 Good stuff that is. Thanks everyone else for the great advice. Thanks also to you Tracie for the information and advice. The closest thing to me other than the school is a contra dance that a country club has on wednesday nights.

Re: More on dancing.

"Thanks for the lovely video SilverSpear."

Ditto that. It dispels any notion that the music has to be fast for dancing. I am aware that sean nós has very different requirements to feis stepdancing, but this is the slowest I have ever seen anyone dance in this style; such restraint must take immense skill.

Re: More on dancing.

"It dispels any notion that the music has to be fast for dancing."

Yea, even when they sped up, it was still "slow". At one point I couldn’t tell if they were playing a fast hornpipe or a slow reel lol

Re: More on dancing.

fiddlelearner ~ send us a link to a picture when you get your outfit, embroidered dress and golden ringlet wig. That I gotta see. Mind you, on the street you might even get more coppers thrown in your purse if you dressed up like that… 😀

Sean Nos Stepping (you don’t need f’n taps, or those damned fiberglass shoes)

Maldon and Ronan at the Crane Bar, Galway

Irish Sean-nos Dance (Maldon Meehan)

Sean-nós Dance Lessons - Jigs

Irish Sean-nos Dance (Ronan Regan)

Re: More on dancing.

"fiddlelearner ~ send us a link to a picture when you get your outfit, embroidered dress and golden ringlet wig. That I gotta see."

That is the funniest thing i’ve heard anywhere all week! laughing my butt off ;) You won’t see me in anything like that, I mean… if money’s not involved!

Re: More on dancing.

By the way, if someone comes up to me and asks me to wear a girls’ stepdancing "uniform" today, you may never see me on this website again!

Re: More on dancing.

Like folks up above have said, avoid ‘competitive’ dance studios, those that prepare their students for dance competitions. It is a different world, and won’t give you what you want. For example, most of them prefer recorded music to live music, because the tempos are completely rigid and predictable. It is amazing how many kids come out of those schools unable to feel the rhythm of a tune, and dance along to it.
I would recommend finding a ceilidhe club, or someplace that teaches that style of dance, which is a very fun and low pressure form of social dancing. That is how I got started with Irish dance, taking lessons at the local club from the late Maureen Keohane and her husband Tim.
And there are folks who teach step dance to adults, and I have heard about more and more ‘non-competitive’ schools opening up, schools that focus on the fun of dancing. And there are even schools that give lessons to adults, something I did for a few years (I was the only guy in the class, but my wife made sure to keep a close eye on me). Our teacher taught us both basic step dances, and also some of the more common ceilidhe dances in a very friendly, low pressure environment. She is also a proponent of sean nos dancing, which is a form of solo dance that tries to get back to the less rigid forms of dance that existed before CCE started to regiment and standardize step dancing. Her name is Kieran Jordan, and her website is: . I would highly recommend checking it out. She has at least one DVD that she produced which is quite excellent (although no DVD takes the place of a good face to face teacher).
I myself no longer dance, as my wife developed back problems, and I could never bring myself to go out dancing without her. But the experience of dancing was a lot of fun, and taught me a LOT about Irish music along the way.
So go out there, not just to learn, but to have a lot of fun in the process! Enjoy!

Re: More on dancing.

Kieran Jordan is a sweetheart, I’ll second that recommendation, and her DVDs are an easy follow…

Kieran & Maldon both also tour and do workshops. You can follow what’s happening on their websites, or, and they are up to it, get a local organization to sponsor them over to teach a workshop… You never know when they might be passing through.

I’m sure we could start up a fund to get you your own outfit Jerone.

Re: More on dancing.

I have some simple Irish sean nos steps on YouTube, if you are interested.
How to dance simple Irish sean nos steps - REELS & another one for jigs

This will definitely help you with rhythm and timing for your music.
I also have a DVD and preparing some online courses, for anyone who might want those.
Have a look at my YouTube channel first - Nora STewart/ BywongQueen.