Sean-nós Dancing

Nov 14, 2014 by

Sean-nós dancing is a traditional style of solo Irish dance. Outside of Ireland, it is not as well known as stepdancing (popularized by Riverdance). On the Emerald Isle, however, sean-nós dancing is a big crowd pleaser.

In Irish Gaelic, sean-nós (sha[rhymes with Da]-nohs[nohs rhymes with dose]) means “old style” and can be applied to singing as well as dancing.  Some say sean-nós dancing originated in the Connemara region, but as the dance style predates modern records, it’s likely that different regions of Ireland had their own, unique sean-nós dance styles.

 

 Stepdancing is a choreographed Irish dance style, where the costumed dancers hold their arms firmly at their sides and do intricate foot movements and high kicks, using either standard soft ( ghillies) or hard (reel and jig ) shoes.  Sean-nós dancing is almost the direct opposite:  one or two dancers wear casual clothing and street shoes, are free to mover their arms, and impromptu, casual dance steps are the name of the game.  Sean-nós dancers do low to the ground foot movements( as opposed to the high kicks of stepdancers) in rhythm to the music, in style called a battering step, which is similar to tap dancing and Appalachian buck dancing.  Stepdancers move across the entire stage, but sean-nós dancing is meant to be performed on a small, hard surface, such as a table, overturned barrel or a door off its hinges.

Sean-nós dancer Seosamh Ó Neachtain moves to the music of Laoise Kelly’s harp– watch how his steps change to match the tempo of the music:

Sean-nós dancers like to show off their skills by dancing on small surfaces. Click HERE to see All-Ireland sean-nós champion Emma O’Sullivan and Gerard Butler ( no, not THAT Gerard Butler) battering a barrel.

Sure, barrel dancing is tough, but not as tough as sean-nós dancing in a FRYING PAN!

 

Think you’d like to try a bit of sean-nós dancing? You don’t need elaborate costumes or fancy shoes, so anyone can do it. Here’s an easy how-to video to get you started:

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