Irish Set Dancing Classes Churchtown Marino Dance Class Dublin Sligo Ireland Home - Contact
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Irish Set Dancing Evening Classes: Lessons in Dublin (North, South) and Sligo

Irish set dancing evening classes take place weekly in Dublin North (Marino/Drumcondra), Dublin South (Churchtown) and Sligo. Everyone welcome, no experience required. No need to book, just turn up. Set dancing is really great fun, good exercise and a great way to socalise. We love to introduce new people to the set dances which have been danced in Ireland for generations, people who never danced before are especially welcome. You don't need a partner, most people come along on their own. You don't need any special clothing or footwear. You WILL be made very welcome and you will enjoy it, go on, give it a try! If you still need convincing, click here to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page

When/Where?

Tuesdays: Dublin South
The Thatch Function Room
The Glenside, Landscape Road
Churchtown, Dublin 14
Next class starting: Tue 28th Oct 2014 at 8pm
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Churchtown is in South Dublin, within easy reach of Rathfarnham, Templeogue, Nutgrove, Dundrum, Ballinteer, Goatstown, Milltown, Mount Merrion, Stillorgan, Kilmacud and surrounding areas.

Wednesdays: Dublin North
The Edmund Hall, Marino Institute of Education
Charlemont, Griffith Avenue,
Dublin 9
Next class starting: Wed 29th Oct 2014 at 8pm
click here for details      map
Griffith Avenue is on the North side of Dublin City, within easy reach of Marino, Drumcondra, Whitehall, Clontarf, Raheny, Coolock, Glasnevin, Beaumont, Phibsborough, Dublin City Centre and surrounding areas.

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Each class begins at 8pm and typically runs as follows:
  • We start promptly at 8pm. During the first half of the night, we teach a set from scratch, starting with the basics. No prior knowledge of dance is assumed or expected. This part of the night is particularly suitable for people who are new to set dancing
  • At around 9 pm, we declare a break, during which you have the option of taking a rest, or trying out another part of our dance tradition, solo dancing. For those who are interested, we have a bit of fun with some solo dancing, or "Sean Nos" steps.
  • After the break, we dance through one, two or maybe even three sets that we have covered previously in class. This gives the "regulars" a chance to put into practice some of the dances that have previously been taught. Newcomers have the option of joining in, which we recommend, or sitting out some or all of the second half. We encourage everyone to get on the floor for the full night, but we don't force anyone to do so. The emphasis is primarily on having a bit of fun and no one takes it in any way seriously if something goes astray.
  • We finish off with the same short set each night, currently The Ballyvourney Jig Set, finishing at 10pm
So, we dance at least three sets every night, often more. The reason for finishing with the same set each night is that, if you attend regularly, you will know this set "like the back of your hand" and you will be able to dance it "on auto-pilot", without thinking, which is by far the most enjoyable way to dance. We typically stick with the same finish set for many months, so that everyone gets to know it well.

From time-to-time, we occasionally have a night of ceili and two-hand dances instead of set dancing. Ceili dances, such as The Siege of Ennis and The Walls of Limerick and two-hand dances such as Shoe the Donkey and The Stack of Barley are very popular at weddings and other family gatherings and whenever we want to celebrate our Irishness, such at St. Patrick's Day festivities.

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Set Dancing Classes:

This website is mainly about set dancing classes, which take place in Dublin (North and South), Prosperous, Co. Kildare, and in Ballinafad, on the borders of Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim.

In times past in Ireland, the sets and half-sets were danced in the country farmhouses when neighbours gathered together at harvest time, "American wakes", "joins", or for no reason at all, other than the urge to play music and dance. While house dances still take place in some parts of Ireland, the majority of set dancing and ceili dancing is now done in halls at regular monthly ceilis, festivals and annual local gatherings.

The set dancing classes in Dublin, Kildare and Sligo/Roscommon described in these pages focus on dancing for fun and enjoyment. We are not involved with competition dancing or performance dancing, we dance just for our own enjoyment and it really is great fun!

You don't need a partner to join in, most people come along on their own, but if you can convince others to come along with you, so much the better, the more the merrier!

You are very welcome to join us any time you are available, you will be made very welcome and we guarantee a good night's craic!

The class is mainly about set dancing, but, for those that are interested, we also cover a bit of solo dancing / Sean Nos and, at some stage during the year, we do a few ceili and two-hand dances.

Set dancing is really great fun, good exercise and a great way to meet people. The lessons cater for both experienced dancers and beginners and you can join in at any stage. It is not necessary to have a partner, but couples may of course dance together if they wish.

The class provides detailed instructions on the steps, figures and timing for the popular sets and there is ample opportunity for participants to put into practice what has been learned in class. The main emphasis is on dancing for enjoyment and many of the class participants meet up at ceili and festival events throughout the year.

Beginners and experienced dancers are welcome at any time.

It is not necessary to book in advance, just come along.

Clothing and Shoes:

No special clothing is required, just wear whatever you are comfortable in. Although leather-soled shoes are easiest to dance in, your choice of footwear is totally up to you. You don't need special shoes, but if you do decide to invest, make sure not to get "noisy" ones, such as the ones sold for tap dancing, hard-shoe, and other types of solo dance. Whereas solo dancing shoes may have "metalwork" on the heels, toes, and/or soles, set dancing shoes do not require any metal at all on the heels, toes, or sole.

Class Outline:

The aim of the class is to teach the steps, figures and timing for the popular sets, such that dancers who attend regularly will be able to dance a set, without calling.

The content of the class could be roughly broken broken down as follows:
  • Steps:

    Steps will include:
    Clare Reel Step: a step for dancing the reel figures of Clare sets
    Clare Jig Step: a step for the jig figure of a Clare set
    Clare Hornpipe Step: a step for the hornpipe figure of a Clare set
    Cork/Kerry Polka Step: a polka step for dancing Cork/Kerry sets
    Cork/Kerry Hornpipe Step: a step for the hornpipe figure of Cork/Kerry sets
    Connemara Reel Step: a step for dancing the reel figures of the Connemara Set
    Cashel Hornpipe Step: a step for the hornpipe figure of the Cashel Set
    Sean Nos Dancing: a bit of fun with some solo steps in the Sean Nos style

    In much the same way that we all have individual accents, everyone has their own unique style of dancing (even though some people may not know it yet!). When teaching steps, the emphasis is on encouraging individual style. The basic steps will be explained, demonstrated and practised in class. People who have been dancing for a while are encouraged to keep and develop their own way of dancing, while beginners are encouraged to take these basic steps and develop their own individual style.
  • Figures (Movements):

    During the dance lessons, the movements of each figure of each set will be explained and practised in class. Typically, once the set has been taught, the full set is then danced through, with a short pause between each figure.
  • Timing:

    Dancing in time with the music is one of the main factors which makes set dancing so enjoyable. While steps vary from one dancer to another and figures vary from one set to another, dancing in time to the music adds to the enjoyment of all set dancers across all sets. We will start by teaching one set, which we will then dance through at some stage each night. After a while, the figures of the selected set will become well known to the class. We will then use this as our reference set for explaining and practicing dancing in time. At the end of the term, dancers who attend regularly will know the selected set well and will have a good understanding of the impact that dancing in time has on the enjoyment of set dancing.
New dancers are welcome at any time. We start a new set from scratch every few weeks, so newcomers are not at any disadvantage.

Mailing List:

If you would like to receive class email messages, such as a reminder when a new term is about to start, please enter you email address at the bottom of this page and click "Join Mailing List" - you can unsubscribe at any time by replying to any message, indicating that you wish to unsubscribe.

Visiting Ireland:

If you are visiting Ireland, you are very welcome to join us, even if it is only for a single night. The class provides a relaxed and friendly environment in which to enjoy the fun of Irish set dancing. The class runs each year from the second week in September until the last week in May the following year.

Cameras & Phones:

We would prefer if you left your cameras and video at home and, unless you are expecting an urgent call, we'd prefer if you switched off your mobile phone, or put it on silent, during class. Anyone wanting to take a momento photo, please say so and we will invite people who wish to be in the photo to assemble during break time.

Sets:

The aim of the class is to cover the figures, steps and timing for the popular sets which are commonly danced at ceili events throughout Ireland, such as:

Clare:
  • The Caledonian
  • The Mazurka
  • The Plain Set
  • The Labasheeda Reel Set
  • The Clare Lancers
  • The Corofin Plain
  • The Kilfenora Plain Set
Cork/Kerry:
  • The Ballyvourney Jig
  • The North Kerry
  • The Sliabh Luachra
  • The Borlin
  • The West Kerry
Galway:
  • The Connemara
  • The South Galway Set
  • The Moycullen
  • The Claddagh Set
Tipperary:
  • The Cashel or Castle Set
Louth:
  • The Rinkinstown
  • The Merchant
Australia:
  • The Antrim Square

Other Dances:

While the emphasis is on the popular set dances, other types of Irish dancing will also be covered at some stage during the year, including:

Sean Nos Step Dancing
  • A bit of fun with Sean Nos dancing:
    Several solo dancing steps will be taught and dancers are encouraged to take these, or other, steps and "make their own of them".
Ceili Dances
  • The High-Cauled Cap (Cadhp an Chuil Aird)
  • The Walls of Limerick (Ballai Luimni)
  • The Siege of Ennis (Ionsai na hInse)
Two-Hand Dances
  • The Stack of Barley
  • Shoe the Donkey
Throughout the year, the figures (movements), timing and steps of the popular sets are explained and practised. While experienced dancers are very welcome, no prior knowledge of set dancing is assumed.

The emphasis is on dancing for enjoyment and many of the class participants meet up regularly at local ceili events and at festivals at home and abroad.

Above all else, the primary objective is to have fun!

Why not give it a try by coming along any night at 8 pm - you will be very welcome.

Ceili:

The word "ceili" has many meanings, for example:
  • In some parts of Ireland, "going for a ceili" means a social visit to a neighbour's house. This meaning doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dance or dancers, just an informal social get together at the end of a day's work for neighbours to chat, tell stories and maybe play a game of cards. A house where neighbours gather in this way is sometimes called a "ceili-ing", or a "rambling house".
  • Among set dancers, "going to a ceili" means attending a dance where the majority of the dances are sets.
  • Among ceili dancers, "ceili" is a genre of Irish dance, separate from set dancing.
  • Among musicians in Ireland, "ceili music" means traditional Irish music, jigs, reels, hornpipes, slides, polkas, etc.
Any and all of these meanings could be applied to our set dancing classes in Dublin, Kildare and Sligo/Roscommon. Neighbours, and those from further afield, are very welcome to join us. We will be mostly doing set dances, but we will also do other dances from time-to-time including Sean Nos, ceili and some two-hand dances.

Note that in the Irish language, there would be a fada in the word "ceili" and it would not be considered gramatically correct to add "ing" or "ers" at the end, to form "ceiliing" or "ceiliers", but, while these words might not be in Irish grammer books, that's how it's actually spoken in many parts or Ireland. In times past, in ceiling houses around the Irish countryside, youngsters would be told to "get the milking done before the ceiliers arrive". As darkness fell, the neighbouring men would gather around the fire and tell stories, or in Winter time, play a game of 25, or, if there were a lot of players, perhaps a game of partners, with lots of nods and winks! There was no formality, they came in their working clothes, lifted the latch without knocking and came straight in to sit around the open hearth fire. Even if everyone was out doing farm work and there was no one home, they would still gather around the fireplace, in the absence of anyone belonging to the house. In effect, a ceiliing house was considered as a sort of communal space, where regulars felt totally at home.

More Information:

Well, there isn't really any more information. The aim of this website is to give you all the information you would need in order to make a decision about coming along to give it a try - any other questions you might have can be answered face-to-face in class. We've added everything we can think of and the website is up to date as of today, 24th October 2014. But, if you have read everything on this website, including:

and you still do not have enough information to make a decision on whether or not to come along, then we have forgotten something. In this case, please click here to contact us and we will get back to you by email as soon as possible. Please do not telephone the venue, as venue staff have no details about the set dancing classes. If you do not have access to email, please come along any night at 8 pm and we will answer your questions then.


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Irish Set Dancing Classes Churchtown Marino Dance Class Dublin Sligo Ireland