Ceili dance
Ceili dances, or true ceili dances (fíor céili) are a popular form of folk dancing
Folk dance
The term folk dance describes dances that share some or all of the following attributes:*They are dances performed at social functions by people with little or no professional training, often to traditional music or music based on traditional music....

 in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

. For the events at which Ceili dances are performed, see Céilidh
In modern usage, a céilidh or ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. It originated in Ireland, but is now common throughout the Irish and Scottish diasporas...

Ceili dances are based on heys ("hedges" - pairs of lines facing), round dances, long dances and quadrilles,
generally revived during the Gaelic revival
Gaelic Revival
The Gaelic revival was the late-nineteenth-century national revival of interest in the Irish language and Irish Gaelic culture...

 in the first quarter of the twentieth century
and codified by the Irish Dancing Commission
. These thirty dances form the basis for examination of ceili dance teachers.

Dance Form and Style

The style of dance employed for ceili dance differs greatly from that used for set dance
Set dance
Set dancing, sometimes called "country sets", are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. Set dances are based on quadrilles. The latter were court dances which were transformed by the Irish into a unique folk dance of the Irish rural communities...

, and has more the appearance associated with the style of step dance
Step dance
Step dance is the generic term for dance styles where the footwork is the most important part of the dance. Body and arm movements and styling are either restricted or considered irrelevant.Step dance is one end of a spectrum of dance styles...

In particular, it emphasizes height and extension, with dancers generally dancing on their toes (but not "on point" as in ballet).
A movement called "side-step" or "sevens and threes" with which dancers travel sideways to the direction they are facing is common, as are jig-step movements called the "rising step" or "grinding step".
Ceili dances may be divided into figures, but a single type of tune is generally used for all the figures and the dancing does not pause between the figures.

Unlike square dance
Square dance
Square dance is a folk dance with four couples arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, beginning with Couple 1 facing away from the music and going counter-clockwise until getting to Couple 4. Couples 1 and 3 are known as the head couples, while Couples 2 and 4 are the side couples...

 and round dance
Round dance
There are two distinct dance categories called round dance. The specific dances belonging to the first of these categories are often considered to be ethnic, folk or country dances...

, ceili dances are generally not called by a caller: the flow of dance is defined by its name.

Social Ceili Dances

Ceili dances when performed socially are often performed in a progressive style. At the end of one whole iteration of the dance (lead around and body), instead of stopping, the groups move on to the next set of partners in the line. Ceili dances that can be performed progressively are: Walls of Limerick, Siege of Ennis, Haymaker's Jig, Fairy Reel. When there is a large social gathering, there will often be a caller for the dance, though it is a very different style from square dancing caller. A ceili caller is usually the teacher or most experienced dancer of the group who has the dance memorized. They then call the movements out in a non-stylized way, intended to remind those who are non-dancers when and where to move. Social ceili dances are often the easiest dances and very easy to shuffle through as a non-dancer. A caller makes sure that everyone at a social dance can participate. Embellishments are accepted and fun in social ceili dances, women adding spins or changing the style of a swing based on the skill of a partner.

Diagram of movement in progressive ceili dance: "The Walls of Limerick"
First position Progressed position Next progressed position
Couple 2
Couple 1 Couple 2
Couple 2 Couple 1 Couple 4
Couple 4
Couple 3 Couple 1
Couple 4 Couple 3 Couple 6
Couple 6
Couple 5 Couple 3
Couple 6 Couple 5 Couple 5

Competitive Ceili Dance

At feis
A Feis or Fèis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival. The plural forms are feiseanna and fèisean .-History:In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals, where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport...

ana, there are also ceili dance competitions. Typically competitions are 8-hand dances, though any "book" ceili dance may be used. Ceili dances are judged by not only their skill at performing the movements, but adherence to the listed book description of the dance and uniformity of movement of all members of the team. Embellishments of ceili dances are strictly forbidden in competition. A competition dance consists of the lead around, body and one figure (performed by the first top couple). Ceili competitions are part of all step-dancing competitions as well, with many dancers performing in both. Some dancers who may not have the skill for solo step-dancing excel at the conformity and precision needed for ceili competitions.
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