CCE Japan sponsors Irish Set Dance classes
every week, in the Tokyo area. Beginners' classes are held every three months, on the first
Sunday of January, April, July and October. For information about set dance practices
in the Osaka area, please click here.
We also sponsor a ceili (Irish for 'dance party') every
People often inquire, "Do you teach Riverdance style dancing?" There are several
different styles of Irish dance. At present, CCE Japan regularly sponsors group
dance lessons, both set dance and ceili dance. Also, we occasionally organize
step dance lessons. (Details below.)
Different Styles of Irish Dance
The summary of dance styles given here is based on information from Rieko Yamashita's
book "Feel the Beat of Irish Dance" (Tokyo Shoseki, 1998) and conversations with Irish
dance master Patrick O'Dea.
Just as Japanese dance is classified according to its various styles into Bon-Odori,
Lion Dance, and Folk Dance, Irish dance is also classified into three styles:
Step Dance, Set Dance and Ceili Dance.
Step dance is further divided into three styles: Sean-nos, Old Style and
Modern Style. The order in which they are listed here actually shows the development
of step dancing. In other words, old style developed from sean-nos, and modern style developed
from old style. In Gaelic, "sean-nos" means "old style", but in English, "old style" came
to refer to the newer style.
Sean-nos, basically an ad-lib style, originally comes from the Connemara area. In the later
styles, the upper body does not move (hands are not used), but in sean-nos, there is
no such rule. Irish dance masters gradually spread sean-nos throughout the entire country.
During this process, the style was refined, and old style developed. The choreography
became fixed, and the 'no hands' rule was recognized.
When competitions started being held, modern style was established. Its characteristics are:
hands lightly clenched, arms straight along the sides, knees crossed, high jumps and high
leg lifts. The music for modern style is a little slower than old style, because there are
more steps. Another characteristic of modern style dance is syncopation. Moreover, because
of the success of Michael Flatly, this style of Irish dance has become world famous.
Generally, modern style dance is very impressive.
Originally, it was only men who wore hard shoes, which make a clacking sound while
dancing. Women danced reels and jigs wearing heavy boots or barefoot. After some time, soft
dance shoes were introduced from Scotland and started to spread. From 1950, a soft shoe
style developed. At the same time, women started wearing hard shoes too. Presently, there is
no gender distinction in Irish dance styles. (However, some customs remain. For example, men
do not dance slip jigs.)
* CCE occasionally reserves rooms for old style and modern style step dance practice.
(These are for individual practice. There is no instruction.) Please refer to the
Ceili Dance / Figure Dance
These are dances for groups of four or more people. In some cases 'ceili dance'
and 'figure dance' are considered to mean the same thing. In other situations, the
two terms are distinguished. In competitions, the term 'figure dance' refers to
'ceili dance', and is used to distinguish the style from set dance and step dance.
In other words, the term 'ceili dance' is not used in competitions.
When the terms are considered different, 'figure dance' refers to a complicated
choreography. Figure dances are especially choreographed for celebrations.
This is the precise distinction, but in general, the two terms are hardly distinguished.
* CCE sponsors ceilis (an Irish word meaning party)
every three months. At these events, the dances are explained, so beginners can participate.
Set dancing is done in groups of 8 people. This is the kind of dancing which CCE members do
during Sunday evenings at Nakano. Set dancing developed in the 19th century when quadrilles
from France were adapted to Ireland's own indigenous dance. After Ireland became independent,
set dances were banned, because of their foreign origin. In recent years, however, such
restrictions have become rare, and set dances are now danced at ceilis.
Set dancing movie(QuickTime format)