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. First and foremost, the dancing could not be suggestive. That it had something to do with swords. 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. Telephone: 020 8902 0150. 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. 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. The advent of Irish dance competition turned the Gaelic revival of the 1890's also impacted arm movements in Irish dance. Ceili Irish dancing can be performed in lines facing each other, circular formations, long line formations, and quadrilles. Irish dancers keep their arms straight down because back then, people would put the Irish in jail. Perhaps it was the church, as stated in the previous theory that was responsible for this? So why do Irish dancers keep their hands rigidly by their side? The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. Our website is open and we are now despatching worldwide 4 days a week, Monday — Thursday. 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. Read the various theories behind this distinctive feature of Irish dance! High quality Irish dance wigs of human hair can cost hundreds of dollars. This must have happened a really really long time ago, since dance has been around forever! your own Pins on Pinterest 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. Sign in to subscribe to comment notification emails, © 2000–2021 Antonio Pacelli, 14 Hallmark Trading Estate, Fourth Way, Wembley HA9 0LB, England. Other teachers and dancers quickly followed the new trend. Before, the arms were more relaxed and were even placed on the hips. A variation on this, tell how they danced in their gardens, with their legs behind the hedges. 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.”. Ceili Irish dancing closely resembles Irish step-dancing, with dancers performing on their toes. The Queen in reference is probably Elizabeth I. Some say that stiff arms were less provocative, and others say that the Church was trying to increase the dancer's self control. To ensure there was no chance of any sneaky canoodling going on, … Also, when royalty arrived in Ireland they were greeted at the shore by Irish dancers. The most believable theory, which is supported by many historians of Irish dance, is that the Dance Masters of the 18th century were responsible. 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 price increases with the length and number of curls. It's actually quite difficult to keep one's arms still while moving one's feet so quickly. Movement of the arms is sometimes incorporated into modern Irish stepdance, although this is … But there were a few stipulations. Mar 18, 2017 - Here is one theory on why Irish step dancers do not move their arms. She reportedly enjoyed Irish jigs, and it is known that dances of Irish origin were danced in her courts. So this is why the girls started dancing with their arms held to their sides like two boards. It’s only in Step Dancing that performers are expected to maintain the stiff-arm approach. There are a few crafted stories as to why the Irish dance with their arms by their sides. Good luck to all those step dancers who practise so hard and give enjoyment to audiences in Ireland and in other countries. Keep your arms straight and at your sides. Old-style step dancers dance with arms loosely (but not rigidly) at their sides. Some wigs arrive styled and trimmed, but others are … 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. 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. The adjudicator approved by placing the students well. HINT: Feet of flames -vs- ---- -- --- It is said that, especially when the dancers performed for … 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. Irish dancers keep their arms straight down because back then, people would put the Irish in jail. But that didn't stop the Irish from dancing indoors right under the noses of any Brit walking by. The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. 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? Before you know it, you too could be dancing a jig – table tops are optional. Dancers dance with crossed feet, up on toe, arms to their sides, shoulders back and looking straight ahead. 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. Why do Irish dancers have straight arms? The Irish Dance masters refined and codified indigenous Irish dance traditions. The adjudicator approved by placing the students well. 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. Many alleged reasons relate in some way to the English occupation of Ireland, and the subsequent suppression of Irish culture. 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 … Check out your local Irish dance school. in jail, they would dance to keep from going insane. So, they would make large circles of people and dancers would dance in the middle of the circle. They dance in a limited space. Other teachers and dancers quickly followed the new trend. 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. 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. Touted as a great source of mental and physical exercise, it’s also just plain fun. The concept is that if you can't move your arms, you can't lift a beer mug or throw punches. 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. The dancers may have been called to the courts for her entertainment. 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. While watching the dancers I wondered why they hold their arms by their sides, rather than move their arms around. They therefore made their students dance with their arms in a fixed position, … Discover (and save!) Unlike the Hollywood-style dances of Riverdance, Quinn says traditional Irish dancers hold their arms straight at their sides. They are supposed to be very stiff at their sides, in contrast to their feet tht are moving very fast. Three Irish islands up for sale, could you live in a place like this? 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! Innova Irish Dance company impress the Judges with their jigging to chart topping tracks. Specifically the Stillson School of Irish Dance, Maine USA. Apparently the Church did not want boys and girls to hold hands. 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.. 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. A ceili dance may be performed with only two people, or as many as 16. To stop this they made them hold their arms by their side. However, it seems strange, considering this law, that the Irish were called to perform their own dances. Why the irish dance that way. Turn up that volume and listen closely…” The other day I saw some Irish step dancing. Any form of hip swaying was not allowed either. 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. Others put their arms slightly behind their backs so their hands are hidden. Movement of the arms is sometimes incorporated into modern Irish stepdance, although this is … They liked etiquette, and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. There is an emphasis on making percussive sound with the … 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. When children are born in Ireland, they break their arms so that they hang limp to their sides. made as part of a competition for rte dance on the box in march 2005.it was overall winner with 3 other films. 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. Exactly why this is so, no one knows for sure… although there are lots of theories. In traditional dances, arms should be firmly at your sides — it’s what makes Irish dancing so recognizable. When Irish Dancers do their routine they don't move their arms or hands. 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. Again, the oppression of Ireland. A motivational video for Irish Dancers everywhere. Priest posts hilarious response to anonymous late night ‘sexy text’. Could someone please explain why they do this? The dancers had to keep their backs straight, their arms down and the smile was taken off the face. Rules emerged about proper upper body, arm, and foot placement. 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. Irish dance only uses your legs: For the most part this is true. hope you like the explanation! Lots of Irish children learn early on that they can still dance with broken arms, it just looks kind of silly. It was fascinating - very clever and entertaining. 2. As already mentioned, Catholicism also seems to be a theme for these stories. Share it with your Facebook friends. They liked etiquette, and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. According Irish dance teacher Antonio Pacelli. Those of natural-looking, synthetic fibers might cost more than $100. 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. 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. 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. 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. It's a great idea really. Are you still wondering why in Irish dance, the arms are held down at the sides of the body? The positioning of the arms is a major element of the Irish dance. Put your hands into fists, but be careful not to clench them -- you don't want to tense up. Dancing in a limited area contributed to the arms being kept down by the side and the focus being maintained primarily on the footwork. But the influence of parish priests led to the lack of arm movement. Email: sales@antoniopacelli.com. Like this article? The British tried to establish control by attempting to stamp out aspects of Irish culture and identity, including traditional songs and dance. 3. Some dancers keep their arms directly at their sides. One story is that a group of Irish dancers were brought to dance for the Queen. The most believable theory, which is supported by many historians of Irish dance, is that the Dance Masters of the 18th century were responsible. 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. Irish dance schools proliferate, offering classes for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. Like this article? in jail, they would dance to keep from going insane. Share it with your Facebook friends! And the clothing had to be modest, with skirts well below the knee. According Irish dance teacher Antonio Pacelli, it’s all down to the kind of style preferred by the dance teachers of the 18th century. Perhaps less plausible is the theory that it dates from the days when Ireland was constantly rebelling against British rule. 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. 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. made by zanita films and Ardmore studios Edwina Guckian - … 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. Well, the simple answer is that they don’t, at least, not for most Irish dancing. The most likely explanation, however, is more straightforward than any of these other theories. This is done to try to cut down on bar brawls. He writes: “They liked etiquette and disapproved of the unruly arm movements of Sean Nos dancing. 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. 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. Similar theories are often also heard with a reference to the clergy. 197 Likes, 5 Comments - The Trinity Irish Dancers (@trinityirishdancers) on Instagram: “Ever wonder why Irish dancers dance with their arms down?? This doesn’t seem too likely though does it? To ensure there was no chance of any sneaky canoodling going on, they insisted that dancers always kept their arms strictly by their sides. 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. Why do Irish dancers always dance with arms straight by their sides? Also, dancers were instructed to dance a step twice—first with the right foot then with the left. 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. “One theory is that, when the English came into Ireland the Irish weren’t allowed to do their dance. 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. Feb 12, 2012 - This Pin was discovered by Kim Adams-Plehal. 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