handed down from one generation to the next, or passed from one
performer to another more by example than by formal teaching. Change
only takes place slowly, and in accordance with generally accepted
principles. Repertories and styles have originally evolved in given
regions, but the natural process of diffusion and especially the
modern communications media have spread them more widely.
The term Sean Nós (old style) step dancing is used to refer
to the old traditional style of solo step dance mainly performed
in Irish-speaking areas. Unlike the style of the modern dancing
schools, there is freedom of arm movements, the steps do not follow
a prescribed pattern and the stepping is closee to the floor. The
dancer in the sean nós style does not attempt to ”cover
the floor”. Most steps are danced ”in place”.
A popular, social-dance form which originated in France as ”sets
of quadrilles”, it was spread first to England and Scotland
and then to Ireland by military personnel and various travellers.
The dance was further developed by eighteenth-century dancing masters
who first taught it in its original form to the upper classes and
later by applying Irish dancing steps and Irish music to the original
French dance movements, to the ordinary people.
Display dance: step dance (so-called ”Irish dance” or
”Irish step dance”. Taught, as in Riverdance, performed
in costumes). ”Old style” step dance (taught, and without
costumes) and, related to this, a free-styleform, typically referred
to as ”sean nós” dance.
2. Social dance: The oldest is set dance; céili dance is
a mixture of old and new choreographies build around old steps;
and ballroom dancing which involves waltz,quick-step, two-step and
”Battering” or ”battering steps” or ”steps
for sets” are danced close to the floor, ranging from simple
to fast footwork adding a percussive element to set dancing.
The two predominate styles are Clare battering and
A loose association of musicians who meet, generally but not always,
in a pub to play an unpredetermined selection, mainly of dance music.
There will be one or more”core”musicians, and others
who are less regular. The musical behaviour in a session is largely
controlled by the relative status of the people playing, with the
higher-status musicians exercising more control over the way it