This website is about Irish Set Dancing, the sets themselves, set dancing events, set dancing teachers, the dancers, where to dance and how to learn this fun pastime.
Irish Set Dancing is danced to the music of traditional Irish tunes. The music for each figure in a set calls for a hornpipe, a jig, a reel, a slide, or a polka. The sets themselves are made up of from three to five or more figures danced to specific tunes. The figures are made up of various steps. A step is a certain footwork combined with hand movements. The sets are usually danced with a group of eight dancers who dance as partners but there are many interactions among the partners and the other individual dancers. This makes Irish Set Dancing a very social activity. The dances are usually quite lively and invigorating.
Share the Joy – of Irish Set Dancing
Irish Set Dancing (dot) org has a calendar listing Irish set dancing events. They are mostly in the Greater Boston area, as that is one of the places where I dance. There are many opportunities to dance there, practically any night of the week, and a few Sunday afternoons. If you’d like to get the word out about your Irish Set Dancing event, send an email to eileen at irishsetdancing dot org with information and optional photos or videos or use the contact page.
Irish Set Dancing (dot) org contains notes and videos to help you learn, call, or teach Irish Set Dancing. Whether you are just starting to set dance or want to find calling notes to help teach a set-dancing class, you will find links to study notes, videos demonstrating the steps that have been shared by others, “cheat-sheets” shorthand versions of set dancing notes, and more. Welcome to our home on the web for Irish Set Dancing enthusiasts.
There are many great resources on the web already but we are attempting here to feature the sets we dance most in the Boston area.
Many set dancers have notes they have written for themselves to help them recall the figures for the sets. I’m sure you’ve seen the little index cards come out of the pockets for a quick glance at the figure before the tune starts. Actually, many times the other set dancers appreciate a quick review of how to start or what unique steps the figure involves.
We’ve developed our own notes for both teaching and calling purposes. We are sharing them here to build on the knowledge base available to set dancers – especially for the new set dancers to make it easier for them to learn the sets.
Our own approach to learning the sets, in addition to classes and workshops, has been to search out videos of the set being danced and match the video to the available set dancing notes. It is also helpful to read as many variations of the notes as possible, as one person may have a slightly different way of explaining the dance that makes another set of notes clear or more complete. Of course, there are books that have been written by dance masters that have been used as guides to set dancing all over the world – these are very helpful, especially when you are learning a new set.
If you find these notes, videos and links helpful, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Have some set dancing notes you’d like to share? Please do. They don’t have to be perfect but they should be correct – we don’t want to lead anyone astray. Contact us – we could even work together on a set. It doesn’t matter if there is already a set of study notes available, your notes could be just the ones that will help someone else learn a set or be able to pass on the set by teaching it.
In a group of set dancers, there are usually some dancers who are new to this enjoyable pastime and even though the more experienced dancers can get through a set without instructions, having someone call the sets will help the newbies. Everybody feels good when they can dance the set through without mistakes. But, of course, doing it perfectly is not the point – mostly we just want to have fun.
We’re all about sharing the JOY here – the joy of sets!