The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11430   Message #85133
Posted By: Philippa
09-Jun-99 - 07:17 AM
Thread Name: Any other Irish set dancers out there?
Subject: RE: Any other Irish set dancers out there?
I think there might be sets going in Accra. In 1993, 'Confidence' from Ghana visited Derry and did a workshop with Comhaltas an Creagáin, a local branch of Comhaltas Ceóltóirí Éireann (they're not all bad!). We did Irish dancing as well and called it an "Afro-céilí". Confidence enjoyed it so much that he implored me to take him to the set dancing class in the Bogside the next night. Frankie Roddy was teaching both the fior-chéilidh and sets classes at the time. I half expect that they have a new type of dance now in Accra, with Ghanaian music and footwork in quadrille formations.

I was impressed with set dancers in New York, how well they knew their stuff. In Ireland it's easier to drop in and out of the dancing and a lot of us enjoy it without becoming particularly expert. In New York I gathered people were making more of a commitment and going out of their way to find the set-dancing classes and sessions. Is it like that in Oslo?
I sure do miss the sets while I'm in Scotland. We do a lot of two-hand dances and simpler céilidh dances such as Strip the Willow and the Dashing White Sergeant. Then there's Scottish Country Dancing, which is done with an elegance, not the same 'craic' as the ceilidh dancing or Irish sets. The fling, which doesn't appeal to me much, is for exhibitons, not social dancing. There is quite a revival, in the "bringing it back home" style of Cape Breton step dance (solo dance. This I like better than Irish step dance as it's more for fun and less for exhibition; it hasn't become as classical as the Irish (though there is also 'sean-nós' stepping in Ireland).
When I talk about the set dancing in Ireland, sometimes older people will say "We used to do quadrilles", "We used to do Lancers". I didn't mention the Q and L words, but people made the connection from my description of the dances. I only know of one dance master teaching Scottish quadrilles in his classes, Mat Mellins, based in the north west,in Sutherland. I wish this sort of dancing would take off in Scotland as it has in Ireland..
Quadrilles were widespread in Europe, a few years ago I danced in one in Krakow at a workshop on Polish Jewish dance. ... And then there's square dances in N America...