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CHERRY CARVING BY LARRY E. TAYLOR  

 2008    Larry E. Taylor

              Irish  Set  Dancing

Irish set dancing is traditional social dancing for four couples in a square [ GO  TO   DOCUMENTATION ].  (At least two sets exist which were composed for other than four couplesone for six and one for three couples.  Ocassionally also, multiple sets-of-dancers will combine during a social figure of a set.  In a social figure, change partners all around.)  The sets are descended from the French quadrilles, which were carried to Ireland by the British army in the late nineteenth century.  Only very occasionally are new sets composed.

Traditional Irish set dancing is full of graceful movements, most often danced in a gentle, easy-flowing style.  Only occasionally do set dancers dance with reckless abandon (high kicks, flailing arms, intensive upper-body sways, stomping, jumping, etc.).  Though dancers change partners in many of the sets, partners continue to focus upon one another as they dance the various patterns.  Partners connect with one another by holding hands, by taking waltz or ceili hold and by looking at each other.  Even when traditional ceili patterns are incorporated into the sets, they are danced without the ceili style.

Set dancing is not the same as step dancing. Step dancing is usually identified as the competitive or show form of Irish dancing made popular by Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.  Single individuals often step dance but some step dance patterns are danced by two or more.  Step dancers do not use all available Irish music rhythms.

Sets are very popular today in Ireland and in many Irish communities throughout the world.  (Likely most square dances of the United States were derived from the Irish sets, not the French quadrilles.  Though carried by the Irish to the United States, the music and dance patterns were adapted to American tempos and tastes.)

O r g a n i z a t i o n      Each set consists of dance patterns grouped into figures [ GO  TO   DOCUMENTATION ]. There may be as few as one figure or as many as nine figures in the sets.  Irish dancers adapted the French quadrilles to their own music polkas, flings, slides, jigs, marches, waltzes, reels, quadrilles and hornpipes.   Irish set dancing is traditional social dancing for four couples in a square.

Approximately twenty-three sets have been choreographed as half sets (for two couples).  Two couples sometimes dance parts of a full set as a half set (four couples unavailable, limited dance space, etc.)

Most often a couple or a pair of couples will dance a pattern while others of the set stand.  However, a very few full sets were choreographed to have all dancers dance all the time during a figure or during the complete set; see examples:  BALLYVOURNEY REEL SET and the modern SUMMIT SET. Standing dancers dance a pattern after the couple or pair of couples dance.  The order-of-dance is often first top couple, then first side couple, then second top couple then finally second side couple.  The first side couple is on the right of first top couple in approximately thirty-three full sets.

"FIRST SIDE LEFT"  S E T   F O R M A T I O N          OR                 "FIRST SIDE RIGHT"  S E T     F O R M A T I O N

( In the diagrams, the SQUARE represents the GENT and the CIRCLE represents the LADY. )

T y p e s       Sets are sometimes labeled (classified) as a particular type a polka set, a jig set or a reel set wherein many or all of the figures of a particular set are of that dance rhythm/music type.  The types for some sets have changed over time; for example, the popular PLAIN REEL SET was originally a POLKA SET

Lancer sets represent another type.  There are approximately twenty lancer sets and all have some common dance patterns.   The common patterns such as line-ups and corner swings are often danced differently in these military-themed sets.

M u s i c       Sometimes particular tunes are associated with particular sets.  For example, for the final figure of the popular CONNEMARA REEL SET, musicians often play Maggie in the Wood.

 

      Crooked  River  Set  Dancers [ GO  TO   DOCUMENTATION ]

The Crooked River Set Dancers are individuals of northeast Ohio who enjoy the grand fun and exercise of Irish set dancing; there is no formal organization.  The dancers attend ceilis, festivals, workshops and practice sessions in Ohio and elsewhere.  See www.setdancingnews.net for a schedule of set dance opportunities throughout the world. 

O T H E R      D A N C E    

Nova Scotia, Canada:  www.setdancingns.com
Toronto, Canada:  www.set-dance.ca/index.html
Washington, DC USA:   www.ceilidance.com
Glasgow, Scotland:  http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/set_dancing

 

      Workshops (Classes)  and  Ceilis   GO TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE

 

July 24, 25, 26, 2009, Dance Workshops led by Lenette and Larry Taylor

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds
Berea, OH

From the  Set Dancing News  Guide to Classes  :

Sunday
"Irish American Club East Side, 22770 Lake Shore Boulevard, Euclid, Ohio, 7-9PM, 6-week courses beginning in September, January and April, $25 for 6 weeks, ceili with live music on 6th week, 6:30-9:30PM"

Tuesday
"St. Clarence Church, 30106 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, Ohio, 7:30-10PM, all year, free, Kelly Jones, Anna Costanzo"

Wednesday
"Irish American Club East Side, 22770 Lake Shore Boulevard, Euclid, Ohio, 7-9PM, all year, free, Tom and Maggie Ward, Kathy and Larry Bachtel"

Friday (second of the month)
"St. Clarence Church, 30106 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, Ohio, 8PM-12AM, September-June, $10, Kelly Jones, Anna Costanzo, music usually by Turn the Corner"

     Irish  Two-Hand  and   Ceili   Dancing

Two other fine forms of Irish social dance are two-hand and ceili (figure) dancing. These are repertoires of dances for couples, for trios, for lines, squares, circles, and includes some for four couples.  The Irish word ceili also refers to a dance event with various types or styles of Irish dances.  Some ceilis have music for old time and modern step dancing and for couples-dancing old time waltz, quickstep, jive, country and swing.

A few celtic dances have both ceili and set dance patterns or arrangements see  BALLYVOURNEY REEL, BLACK VALLEY SQUARE JIG, CUIL AODHA, CUIRASSIERS, DUNGARVAN, MAYO and NEW MARKET PLAIN setsHowever, even when traditional ceili patterns are incorporated into the sets, they are danced without the traditional ceili style.  Arrangements and/or patterns within HIGH CAULED CAP and HURRY THE JUG may allow both to be classified as either ceili or set dances.

   The  Pipes  are  Calling . . .

Set dancing is enjoyed in many places. The following is from pages 110 through 112 of The Pipes are Calling, Our Jaunts Through Ireland by Nail Williams and Christine Breen.

The long-awaited night of our own Ceili Mor had been Friday, January 27, at half past eight in Cois na Habhna, in Ennis... One of the band members announced that the first set would be a Clare Set and the dancing began.  But were we ready?  No, we weren't.  There was a moment of panic when Noel shouted, "Where's my wife?  Where is Moira?"  But it was too late for a search party, the set had begun.  We had rehearsed this so often that when the music began, the dance took over and our feet flew away to the rhythm of the reel.
...In unison the room bellowed with the excited sounds of 250 people in shared activity.  The tops and tails and the sides joined together in one loud burst of exuberance.   It was as if we were all members of a team in a contest and our team was winning.   All around the room, the tops, tails, and sides of each and every set advanced to the center of their square and retreated.  Smiles abounded.  I have to say that we were beside ourselves with joy.  Pure joy.

     Set  Dance  Documentation   GO TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Click on set dance information below.   Some of these sets are known in multiple versions and by other names.  Documents marked   NEW OR REVISED "MARKER"   have either been recently posted or recently revised.   Note the version-date on each document.

The documentation perhaps should not be considered official or final.  The notes record dance instructions for a point-in-time.  Set dances frequently change due to dancers' skill levels, the dancers' and musicians' likes and dislikes and other factors.   There may thus be many different versions of sets not documented here. Though an embarrassment to the webmaster, typographical and content errors are sometimes posted also.   Please share your proofreader corrections with the webmaster.

Though identified hereon as Irish, some of the sets may have first been danced in Scotland or in other Celtic areas of the world.  Only a few ALTERNATIVES for a pattern, a figure or an entire set are shown in the notes below.  Versions of sets not recorded below will be posted as they become available.  Do you have sets or unique versions of sets to share here with the dance-community?  Perhaps the final figure of the Derradda?

SELECTED   TERMS SELECTED   TERMS SELECTED   TERMS SELECTED   TERMS SELECTED   TERMS
 
AHERLOW CLADDAGH GLENCREE  LOUISBURGH SKIBBEREEN
AMSTERDAM CLARE  LANCERS GLENGARRIFF  -- LONG  -- SHORT   LOUVAIN      SKIRDAGH
ANTRIM  SQUARE  CLARE  ORANGE  &  GREEN GORTROE LUSMAGH  SLIABH   FRAOCH
ATHA    CAOIRE CLASHMORE HIGH  CAULED   CAP MAYO SLIABH  GAMPH
ARAN                     ARAN-1 CLOGHAN HOLLYMOUNT MAYO  HALF SLIABH  gCUA 
ARDGROOM CLOGHANE - BRANDON HUNGERFORD   JIG MAYO  LANCERS SLIABH  LUACHRA
ARMAGH CLOONADIVEEN  LANCERS HURRY  THE  JUG  MAZURKA SLIGO 
ARMAGH  LANCERS CLONAHADREEN IBIZA  MEALAGH   VALLEY  JIG SLIP AND SLIDE  POLKA
ARMAGH  QUADRILLES CLOONAGH  LANCERS  INIS   MEAIN MEATH   HALF SNEEM 
ATHA   CAOIRE      CONNEMARA  JIG INIS   OIRR MEELIN   VICTORIA  JIG  SOURIS
AUBAN CONNEMARA  REEL IVERAGH   MILLENNIUM MELLERAY  LANCERS SOUTH  GALWAY
AUSTRALIAN  HALF COROFIN  PLAIN INVERNESS  SOUTH  SQUARE MONAGHAN SOUTH  KERRY
BALLAGH PLAIN HALF CRATYLOE JENNY  LIND MULLAGH  HALF SOUTH   SLIGO  LANCERS 
BALLINASCARTY  HALF CROOKED  RIVER    KEADUE  LANCERS MULLAHORAN SOUTHERN   CROSS  
BALLINGEARY      CUCHULAINN  KENMARE      MOYCULLEN       SUMMIT   
BALLINTOGHER  LANCERS CUIL  AODHA   KILDARE NASS TELEVARA
BALLYCASTLE CUILMORE    KILDOWNET  HALF NEDINAGH                    TELEVARA-1 
BALLYCOMMON CUIRASSIERS      KILENAULE   LANCERS  NEWCASTLE THURLES               ..
BALLYCOMMON  HALF DERRADDA      KILFENORA  PLAIN  NEWMARKET  PLAIN TIPPERARY   LANCERS
BALLYCOMMON   OFFALY DERRY     KILGARVIN   POLKA NEWMARKET  MESERTS TORY   ISLAND
BALLYCROY  DOIRE  CHOLMCILLE   KILKENNY   LANCERS NEWPORT TORY   ISLAND   LANCERS
BALLYDUFF DONEGAL  KILKENNY  QUADRILLES NORTH  CORK   POLKA TOURNAFULLA 
BALLYHAHILL  HALF    DOWN   CALEDONIAN  KILLIMER NORTH   KERRY  PLAIN   TRURO  WALTZ  QUADRILLES
BALLYMARTLE  HALF DOWN  LANCERS KILLORGLIN NORTH  KERRY  POLKA  TUBBERCURRY  LANCERS 
BALLYROAN  HALF DOWN  QUADRILLES KILLOWEN NORTH   KILKENNY TYRAWLEY
BALLYVOURNEY  JIG DROMGARIFF  HALF   KILLYON OLD   PHILADELPHIA VALENTIA  RIGHT  &  LEFT
BALLYVOURNEY  REEL DUBLIN KILMANAGH  LANCERS PARIS VICTORA   NEWMARKET   
BARNEY          DUBLIN   LANCERS KILMEENA PIPERS' VICTORIA   JIG-1
BEARA DUNGARVAN KILTIMAGH  HALF PLAIN  POLKA VICTORIA   JIG-2
BIRMINGHAM  JIG  DUNMANWAY   KNOCKNABOUL PLAIN  REEL VICTORIA  JIG-3
BLACK   VALLEY  SQUARE  JIG  DURLES   EILE      KNOCKNAGREE POLKA  SET WALTZ  COTILLION
BLACKTOWN DURROW   THRESHING KNOCKTOPHER  POLKA PORT  FAIRY WATERFORD  JIG
BLACKWATER      EAST  GALWAY , Long LABASHEEDA PORTMAGEE  JIG WATERFORD  LANCERS  
BONANE EAST  GALWAY, Short LANCER    SET  QUADRILLES   WEST  KERRY
BORLIN EAST  MAYO LEITRIM QUADRILLES  HALF   WEST   KERRY  OLD STYLE 
BORLIN  JENNY EUCLID    LIMERICK  ORANGE  &  GREEN RATHGORMACK  LANCERS  WESTMEATH
BORLIN  JENNY-1 FERMANAGH  LIMERICK   TUMBLERS RATHGORMACK  LANCERS-1 WEST  CORK   PLAIN  
BRUCA FERMANAGH  QUADRILLES LISPOLE REEL  SET WEST  CORK   QUADRILLE  
CAHERCIVEEN FINTOWN   LONG  CALEDONIAN ROSCAHILL WEST GALWAY   
CALEDONIAN FLIGHT  OF  THE  EARLS     LONGFORD ROSCOMMON  WEST  LIMERICK
CALEDONIAN AROUND HOUSE  GALWAY LORRHA-AGLISH  QUADRILLE ROSCOMMON  HALF WEXFORD   HALF
CALEDONIAN   KILRUSH  GALWAY   HALF LOT   SEVEN  SQUARE ROSCOMMON  LANCERS WICKLOW  HALF
CAMDEN   HORNPIPE GALWAY   REEL LOUGHGRANEY  HALF ROYAL   COTILLION WILLIAMSTOWN
CAPE  CLEAR   ISLAND GILLEN LOUGH   NEAGH SCOTTISH  STUDENT  LANCERS WOLFHILL  HALF
CARAGH  LAKE  JIG GLENCAR  POLKA SET  OF  ERIN
CARAGH   LAKE   POLKA     GLENCORRIB SHAMROCK
CASHEL SHRAMORE 
CAVAN REEL SIONNA
CEILI  MOR  HALF
TWO-HAND DANCES  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

larry e lenette lead around.jpg (22378 bytes)   This page has been created and is maintained by  Dr. Lenette S. and Larry E. Taylor of Stow, Ohio USA.

   WEBMASTER:  larryetaylor@hotmail.com             UPDATED:  08-26-2009     GO TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE

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