With the World Irish dancing championships coming to Glasgow, we thought we'd thought we'd give you a few fun facts to help you to better understand this traditional Irish entertainment.
Irish Dancers would literally 'Take the Cake'
You've probably heard the phrase 'Takes the cake'. As well as having come to light in works as far back as the 5th century, it simultaneously possesses links with early 20th century American 'strut competitions' or 'cake walks'. It can be seen that the Irish possess ownership of the phrase due to the tradition of 'cake dances'. This involved a cake being put in the middle of a field, and dancers competed against each other for the opportunity to win it. These competitions would typically occur following church on a Sunday and were wildly popular.
The Dancing Master
Unable to look up any dance tutorials on youtube, back in the 18th century, alternatively, a nimble footed professional, a 'Dancing Master', would show folks, from town to town, the latest dance tricks. A dancing masters arrival created so much excitement that he was paid by the nearest parish, given a place to stay by a close by family, and people in the village would dress ‘eccentrically’ for the duration he was around.
The 'Rigid Arms' Origin
Many have contemplated the origin of step dancing's rigid arms. Many thought that the stylistic feature was introduced because it was far more conservative than 'all that touching' associated with other dances. Far more entertaining, was the way in which others perceived that the dance was formed as a means through which people could get together and dance secretly so that when someone peered in through a waist high window, it'd appear as though they were standing still. More of a likelihood is the prospect that the rigidity emerged from the tiny stages used to dance on. Dancers would take doors of their hinges and lay them on the floor as a means through which to obtain the adequate form of wooden surface that inhibits broad movements. The discipline and control that formed a large element of the dance, took it to another level, challenging individual performers to dance on top of a barrel.
A Social Tradition
In Irish tradition, the céilidh acted in a hugely significant way for the Irish community - an area wherein locals got together, informed one another on the news and, of course, danced. For the dancers in 90's step dancing show Riverdance, dancing appeared an amazing way through which to find a prospective partner. Indeed, there were over 39 marriages throughout the show's duration.