Three forms of Gaelic Social Dancing coming to this year’s Celtic Classic. Each one is a lot of fun and great exercise. Get to know each of these forms and meet your neighbors who enjoy these dances throughout the year. Wear comfortable shoes!
Scottish Country Dancing (Saturday Sept 24, 4-6 pm in Jameson Pub Tent)
A Scottish country dance (SCD) is a form of social dance involving groups of mixed couples of dancers tracing progressive patterns according to a predetermined choreography. Country dancing is often considered a type of folk dancing although this is not strictly true because it also has its roots in the courtly dances of the Renaissance.
When it first became popular around the 18th century, it filled the niche that is occupied today by ballroom dances such as the waltz or tango, as a fairly refined form of entertainment. Related dance forms include English country dancing and contra dancing. The connection to styles like ceili dancing, “Old Time” dancing, Irish set dancing, or square dance is more tenuous.
Also, Scottish country dancing should not be confused with Scottish highland dance, which (today) is closer to a sport rather than a social pastime, mainly being danced in competition and displays. There is a certain amount of cross-over in that there are Scottish country dances that include highland elements as well as highland-style performance dances which use formations otherwise seen in country dances, but other than that the styles do not really have a lot in common today.
What it looks like:
On Saturday, September 24th from 4-6pm in the Jameson Pub Tent, near the Highland Field. Live music performed by members of the Delaware Royal Scottish Country Dancers.
In the early 20th century the Gaelic League, which was formed to encourage an Irish culture free of outside influences, began to promote ceili dancing. Some ceili dances are based on traditional country or round dances; others were composed under the auspices of the league’s Dancing Commission. Ceili dances became particularly popular in the northern part of Irelands. Today, ceili is enjoying a revival of interest world wide.Ceili dances come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In general, dances for couples of trios formed into lines or circles ten to be progressive (the patten of the dance is repeated with a succession of different dancers) and relatively easy for beginners.Ceili dances for squares and four couples are not progressive and are usually more complex. The steps in ceili dancing are simplified relatives of those used in modern step dancing.From 1-2pm, the O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance from Bethlehem, PA will host the first hour and focus on teaching the basics of ceili dancing for children.
From 2-3pm, The West End Ceili Dancers from Gilbert, PA under the direction of Jean and Mike Cunningham will host the second hour for teens and adults. The Cunningham’s are excited to teach ceili favorites including the Seige of Ennis, Haymaker’s Jig, Gay Gordons and the Bonfire Dance to name a few. All dances will be “called” so it is the perfect opportunity for newcomer to come and learn this style of Irish Dance.
What it looks like:
Alison and Tom Gillespie will be playing for both of the ceili sessions.
Contra Dancing (Sunday, September 25th 3:30-5:30 in Jameson Pub Tent)
Contra dances were fashionable in the United States until the early to mid-19th century, when they were supplanted in popularity by square dances and couple dances (such as the waltz and polka). By the late 19th century, square dances too had fallen out of favor, except in rural areas. In the 1930s and 1940s, contra dances appear to have been done only in small towns in widely scattered parts of northeastern North America, such as Ohio, the Maritime provinces of Canada, and particularly northern New England.
In the 1970s, new dances featured symmetrical dancing by all couples. Double progression dances, added to the aerobic nature of the dances. “Becket” formation was introduced, with partners next to each other in the line instead of opposite.
Gender-free contra dancing started in the 1970s, a.k.a group contra dancing without gender roles. Gender-free philosophy can be used almost anywhere conventional traditional dances are currently being held. It is useful for community dances where “keeping on the correct side” is difficult because of a large gender imbalance, for children’s dances and for groups who want to add a little variety and a creative learning experience to their traditional dance venue.
What it looks like:
From 3:30-5:30pm on Sunday, Sept 25th, Valley Contra Dance will present a session for all to learn and sharing the floor in the Jameson Pub Tent. Live music by Matthew Burke and the Gooseberries.