Irish Step Dance is a percussive style of dance that comes from traditional Irish dance. It has fast paced intricate foot work with a ridged upper body. Riverdance is a performance of Irish Step Dancing that really got Irish Step Dancing recognized by the world.
When, Where, Who, and How
Irish Step Dancing originated around 1750 by dance masters from the counties Kerry, Cork, and Limerick. Dance masters created their own steps derived from traditional irish dances that were modified over time.
Irish Step Dancing started around 1750, when the appearance of dance masters came about. Dance Masters would travel from town to town teaching their dances to people that were interested and that could pay for it. They would teach in barns, kitchens, crossroads, and hedge schools. These teachings went on in secret due to Penal Laws that were enacted in the late 17th century. The English were determined to suppress Irish culture and abolish Christianity so these laws banned the education of catholic children, which was why the Irish created hedge schools. The Dance Masters would start with dances like the Reel and the Jig. Each dance master had his own collection of dance steps and would also create their own over time, which lead to Step Dancing. 8 measures or bars or music is one step, thus the name “Step Dancing”. Often competitions were held where Dance masters would show off there steps and perform on small areas like a table top, top of a barrel, or a small stage. Dancing in these small areas showed great talent. The greater number of steps that were preformed or known the more respect a dance master received. Some Dance Masters would even compete at Feisianna, which was a combination of a trade fair, political gath...
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...top of a barrel or even a soapy table top! As the Penal laws started to lighten the stages increased in size. Nowadays competitions are held on huge stages that allow for large groups and bigger more elaborate steps such as flying jumps.
Irish Dancing provides physical benefits such as increased stamina, core strength, and general overall fitness. It will also improve balance, posture and coordination, as well as promote flexibility and increased muscle strength. Mental benefits include learning to listen, following directions and memory building. Irish Dancing also promotes self-confidence and self-esteem, while instilling a sense of good sportsmanship, both in winning and losing. In addition, Irish dancing provides the opportunity to learn teamwork and develop team spirit, as well as the importance of dedication, perseverance and good, healthy habits.
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