Shannonside Ceili Dancers

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About Ceili Dancing

Ceili Dance: a ceili  (kay-lee) is a traditional Irish gathering for fun, fellowship, and laughs (or craic as the Irish might say).   Traditional ceili dances were enjoyed at house parties and corner road gatherings in the rural countrysides. Decades later,  they are still very popular in Ireland.  The bonfire, haymakers jig, siege of ennis, fairy reel, etc  are very easy  to learn. Many of these traditional country folk dances  have a follow the leader pattern that new dancers can pickup on their first attempt.  

About The Dances

How to tell a Jig from a Reel?
The difference between reels, jigs and hornpipes is the time signature.  Reels have a 4/4 (or sometimes 2/4 or 2/2) time signature.  Slip jigs are in 9/8 time.  Light and single jigs are in 6/8 time, with different emphasis within the measure distinguishing the music.   "Hard shoe" dances include the hornpipe in 2/4 time, the hard jig (or treble jig) in a slow 6/8, the treble reel and traditional sets, which are a group of 38 dances with set music and steps.

If you aren't familiar with time signatures try saying words to the beat of the music.
A jig will fit phrases like "patio furniture", "bacon and sausages", or even "cantelope honeydew".
A reel fits words like "locomotive" or "watermelon".
If you're a soccer fan, a reel will fit "Man United, Man United" while a jig fits "Liverpool Liverpool Liverpool" !

There are different types of jigs, too.  To read about them click here. 

Learn the Dances

Here are some helpful hints for even our experienced dancers:  helpful hints for Ceili Dancing.doc

Ever wish you had something to help you pratice and remember the dances in between Monday night sessions?  Here are some YouTube videos that will help!  Just click on the links.

Bonfire Dance:  this is a little bit different from the way we do it, but you'll get the idea)
Fairy Reel:
Glencarr Reel : (again, a bit different from the way we do it, but close enough)
Duke Reel:
Walls of Limerick: (we do this to end most performances with audience participation)
Seige of Ennis
Trip to the Cottage
High Cauled Cap
Gates of Derry   
Four-Hand Reel

Here are some websites that give written descriptions of some dances: