Like this article? But there were a few stipulations. They liked etiquette, and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. The most believable theory, which is supported by many historians of Irish dance, is that the Dance Masters of the 18th century were responsible. The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. Others put their arms slightly behind their backs so their hands are hidden. im pretty sure that when ireland was under brittish rule they were not allowed to dance, they would dance under the table moving just their legs so the brittish wouldnt know they were dancing, now it is tradition, in many true irish restarunts the windows dont start till … Some dancers keep their arms directly at their sides. Well, the simple answer is that they don’t, at least, not for most Irish dancing. One possible explanation that is often quoted is that it’s down to the power of the Catholic Church, which exerted so much control over Irish life right up until the 1970s. To ensure there was no chance of any sneaky canoodling going on, … So, they would make large circles of people and dancers would dance in the middle of the circle. But yes, traditional and purist Step Dancing, as still taught by Irish dance schools across the world, still requires the arms to be kept still. These dancers had no choice but to dance for the Queen, so the stiff arms was their way of showing their fellow countrymen that they didn’t want to do it and weren’t enjoying the experience. It’s thought the clergy didn’t like the idea of young men and women being allowed to hold hands or even put their arms around each other as happened in most dance forms. But the influence of parish priests led to the lack of arm movement. Old-style step dancers dance with arms loosely (but not rigidly) at their sides. Touted as a great source of mental and physical exercise, it’s also just plain fun. There is no definitive answer to explain why Irish dancers do not use their arms while they dance but there are hundreds of stories and theories passed down to try to explain. They therefore made their students dance with their arms in a fixed position, holding a stone on the hand to keep them in a fist.”. Movement of the arms is sometimes incorporated into modern Irish stepdance, although this is … Our website is open and we are now despatching worldwide 4 days a week, Monday — Thursday. Read the various theories behind this distinctive feature of Irish dance! This must have happened a really really long time ago, since dance has been around forever! They therefore made their students dance with their arms in a fixed position, … Are you still wondering why in Irish dance, the arms are held down at the sides of the body? It's a great idea really. Also, dancers were instructed to dance a step twice—first with the right foot then with the left. Other explanations put forward include the theory that the stiff arms was a kind of protest by dancers who were forced to dance for Queen Elizabeth, who was responsible for starting the plantations of Ireland. While many of the contemporary and show dance styles of Irish dance have a more relaxed upper body and make use of the arms, the traditional form of Irish dance still keeps the arms close to the sides of the body. These dancers refused to raise their arms to her, and kept them rigidly by their sides as they danced out of defiance, and possibly to show they were not enjoying themselves as they danced for her and the English. made by zanita films and Ardmore studios Edwina Guckian - … Telephone: 020 8902 0150. Before you know it, you too could be dancing a jig – table tops are optional. When Irish Dancers do their routine they don't move their arms or hands. However, it seems strange, considering this law, that the Irish were called to perform their own dances. The concept is that if you can't move your arms, you can't lift a beer mug or throw punches. Other teachers and dancers quickly followed the new trend. This doesn’t seem too likely though does it? A variation on this, tell how they danced in their gardens, with their legs behind the hedges. However we came to dance with our arms straight, it remains today, and helps make traditional Irish dance so distinctive in a world where no other form of dance expects perfect balance without the use of the arms. The Queen in reference is probably Elizabeth I. It’s only in Step Dancing that performers are expected to maintain the stiff-arm approach. Back in the "old" days, when men used to wear swords around their waists, they would have to clamp their arms down at their sides (over the sword) to prevent it from swinging around and causing damage while they were dancing. The British tried to establish control by attempting to stamp out aspects of Irish culture and identity, including traditional songs and dance. Could someone please explain why they do this? You’d have to be a very short-sighted soldier not to realise that that all that bobbing up and down on the spot amounted to some form of dancing. Irish dance schools proliferate, offering classes for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. A ceili dance may be performed with only two people, or as many as 16. Any form of hip swaying was not allowed either. The advent of Irish dance competition turned the Gaelic revival of the 1890's also impacted arm movements in Irish dance. They dance in a limited space. As already mentioned, Catholicism also seems to be a theme for these stories. Perhaps this reference to hedges has been mixed up over the years and actually refers to the Hedge Schools, the secret schools where Irish culture was taught in secrecy throughout the suppression. While watching the dancers I wondered why they hold their arms by their sides, rather than move their arms around. Dancing in a limited area contributed to the arms being kept down by the side and the focus being maintained primarily on the footwork. your own Pins on Pinterest The Irish Dance masters refined and codified indigenous Irish dance traditions. Perhaps less plausible is the theory that it dates from the days when Ireland was constantly rebelling against British rule. The Irish responded, so the theory goes, by keeping their arms still so the British would not be able to tell they were dancing if they say them through the windows of a country house, behind a hedge or behind the bar in a pub. One story is that a group of Irish dancers were brought to dance for the Queen. Share it with your Facebook friends. Whatever the true reason, the straight arm approach has survived to this day and has helped to give Irish step dancing its unique character and appeal. This is done to try to cut down on bar brawls. In other forms of Irish dancing like Sean Nos, Ceilí and Set Dancing, the arms are free to move as much as the dancer likes. The most likely explanation, however, is more straightforward than any of these other theories. Irish dance only uses your legs: For the most part this is true. Apparently the Church did not want boys and girls to hold hands. Ceili Irish dancing closely resembles Irish step-dancing, with dancers performing on their toes. She reportedly enjoyed Irish jigs, and it is known that dances of Irish origin were danced in her courts. But the people would dance straight armed so that if a passing priest looked through the window of the house he would not realise they were dancing. made as part of a competition for rte dance on the box in march 2005.it was overall winner with 3 other films. Rules emerged about proper upper body, arm, and foot placement. Perhaps it was the church, as stated in the previous theory that was responsible for this? The positioning of the arms is a major element of the Irish dance. Irish dancers keep their arms straight down because back then, people would put the Irish in jail. A motivational video for Irish Dancers everywhere. The mystery of what Maureen O’Hara whispered to make John Wayne look so shocked, Meghan Markle can trace her family tree back to Ireland, Matt Damon winning hearts and minds with charm assault on Ireland, Cork trio perform best Irish dance video of the year, Action hero Tom Cruise was once attacked by an old man in a Kerry pub, Liam Neeson speaks about his late wife in emotional interview, Dating site explains why Irish men make wonderful husband material, Billy Connolly says public should ignore politicians and listen to comedians, Take a look inside Hollywood star Saoirse Ronan’s stunning Irish home. It’s thought the clergy didn’t like the idea of young men and women being allowed to hold hands or even put their arms around each other as happened in most dance forms. Discover (and save!) Three Irish islands up for sale, could you live in a place like this? Keep your arms straight and at your sides. Irish dancers keep their arms straight down because back then, people would put the Irish in jail. Other stories relating to the English tell how the Irish would go into pubs, and dance behind the bar with their upper body straight so that the English would not be able to tell they were dancing. There are a few crafted stories as to why the Irish dance with their arms by their sides. Their defiance would be natural after the suppression they had been subjected to for centuries, since Irish culture was outlawed by the Statute of Kilkenny in the 14th century. And the clothing had to be modest, with skirts well below the knee. Why do Irish dancers have straight arms? It is said that, especially when the dancers performed for … Why the irish dance that way. The adjudicator approved by placing the students well. To stop this they made them hold their arms by their side. The most believable theory, which is supported by many historians of Irish dance, is that the Dance Masters of the 18th century were responsible. And even in Step Dancing, mainly under the influence of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance, the old convention has been relaxed and we now see more use of the arms. 3. Another idea is that, at a time of puritanical Catholicism, the Church in effect ironed the fun out of Irish dancing to make it reflect Christian ideals. Priest posts hilarious response to anonymous late night ‘sexy text’. It is quite possible that this event actually happened. Check out your local Irish dance school. High quality Irish dance wigs of human hair can cost hundreds of dollars. Many alleged reasons relate in some way to the English occupation of Ireland, and the subsequent suppression of Irish culture. Also, when royalty arrived in Ireland they were greeted at the shore by Irish dancers. They therefore made their students dance with their arms in a fixed position, holding a stone on the hand to keep them in a fist. One such story claims that dancing was banned by the English or by the Clergy so the Irish confined their dancing to indoors (or behind hedges) and kept their arms down by their sides so that people walking by couldn't tell they were dancing. Specifically the Stillson School of Irish Dance, Maine USA. Mar 18, 2017 - Here is one theory on why Irish step dancers do not move their arms. Exactly why this is so, no one knows for sure… although there are lots of theories. Share it with your Facebook friends! Those of natural-looking, synthetic fibers might cost more than $100. The dancers may have been called to the courts for her entertainment. The adjudicator approved by placing the students well. That it had something to do with swords. Dancers dance with crossed feet, up on toe, arms to their sides, shoulders back and looking straight ahead. All these ideas are rather sketchy, and it seems unlikely that any person, whether they be English or Clergy, when seeing a person bouncing up and down, would pass without suspicion of what they were doing! “One theory is that, when the English came into Ireland the Irish weren’t allowed to do their dance. Again, the oppression of Ireland. Some say that stiff arms were less provocative, and others say that the Church was trying to increase the dancer's self control. One such theory is that, during English occupation of Ireland the Irish dancers refused to use their arms as a way to protest the England’s suppression of Irish culture. He writes: “They liked etiquette and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. 2. The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. There is no direct evidence for this but it’s plausible given the way the church cast its spell over all aspects of life in Ireland for so long. Lots of Irish children learn early on that they can still dance with broken arms, it just looks kind of silly. Good luck to all those step dancers who practise so hard and give enjoyment to audiences in Ireland and in other countries. hope you like the explanation! It's actually quite difficult to keep one's arms still while moving one's feet so quickly. When children are born in Ireland, they break their arms so that they hang limp to their sides. Some wigs arrive styled and trimmed, but others are … Sometime in that decade or the one following, a dance teacher had his students compete with arms held firmly down to their sides, hands in fists, to call more attention to the intricacy of the steps. Similar theories are often also heard with a reference to the clergy. It is thought by some that they may have originally made dancers hold one or both hands on the hip, and the completely straight arms came at a later date. in jail, they would dance to keep from going insane. But that didn't stop the Irish from dancing indoors right under the noses of any Brit walking by. So this is why the girls started dancing with their arms held to their sides like two boards. First and foremost, the dancing could not be suggestive. It is often said that the Catholic Church disapproved of certain aspects of Irish dance, and would do what they could to control or stop it. The price increases with the length and number of curls. One of the most common reactions of people seeing ‘Irish dancing’ for the first time is ask: why do they keep their arms so stiff by their sides? The other day I saw some Irish step dancing. Other teachers and dancers quickly followed the new trend. Sign in to subscribe to comment notification emails, © 2000–2021 Antonio Pacelli, 14 Hallmark Trading Estate, Fourth Way, Wembley HA9 0LB, England. Sometime in that decade or the one following, a dance teacher had his students compete with arms held firmly down to their sides, hands in fists, to call more attention to the intricacy of the steps. The truth is that no one knows for certain what the real answer is but here we take a look at the various theories behind this distinctive feature of Irish dance.. HINT: Feet of flames -vs- ---- -- --- There is an emphasis on making percussive sound with the … Put your hands into fists, but be careful not to clench them -- you don't want to tense up. Like this article? Before, the arms were more relaxed and were even placed on the hips. One possible explanation that is often quoted is that it’s down to the power of the Catholic Church, which exerted so much control over Irish life right up until the 1970s. They liked etiquette, and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. They are supposed to be very stiff at their sides, in contrast to their feet tht are moving very fast. Irish Dance theatricals, and dance musical shows travel the world, and sell out at every stop. One of the main features of Irish dancing is the way dancers maintain a rigid upper body and keep their arms by their side whilst dancing. Feb 12, 2012 - This Pin was discovered by Kim Adams-Plehal. the dancers kept their posture straight and arms down so that common people and guards,and whatnot, would be kept unaware that their was dancing in the circles. The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. Unlike the Hollywood-style dances of Riverdance, Quinn says traditional Irish dancers hold their arms straight at their sides. It was fascinating - very clever and entertaining. Ceili Irish dancing can be performed in lines facing each other, circular formations, long line formations, and quadrilles. One of the main features of Irish dancing is the way dancers maintain a rigid upper body and keep their arms by their side whilst dancing. To ensure there was no chance of any sneaky canoodling going on, they insisted that dancers always kept their arms strictly by their sides. Why do Irish dancers always dance with arms straight by their sides? in jail, they would dance to keep from going insane. 197 Likes, 5 Comments - The Trinity Irish Dancers (@trinityirishdancers) on Instagram: “Ever wonder why Irish dancers dance with their arms down?? A variation on this ‘not enjoying it’ theory takes us back to the Catholic Church, which wanted dance to be less joyous and secular, and more serious and spiritual instead. According Irish dance teacher Antonio Pacelli, it’s all down to the kind of style preferred by the dance teachers of the 18th century. 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