By: Celtic Bard Jeff
Ceili dances, or true ceili dances (fíor céili) are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland.
Ceili dances are based on heys ("hedges" - pairs of lines facing), round dances, long dances and quadrilles, generally revived during the Gaelic revival in the first quarter of the twentieth century and codified by the Irish Dancing Commission. These thirty dances form the basis for examination of ceili dance teachers.
The style of dance employed for ceili dance differs greatly from that used for set dance, and has more the appearance associated with the style of step dance. In particular, it emphasizes height and extension, with dancers generally dancing on their toes (but not "on point" as in ballet). A movement called "side-step" or "sevens and threes" with which dancers travel sideways to the direction they are facing is common, as are jig-step movements called the "rising step" or "grinding step". Ceili dances may be divided into figures, but a single type of tune is generally used for all the figures and the dancing does not pause between the figures.
Unlike square dance and round dance, ceili dances are generally not called by a caller: the flow of dance is defined by its name.
Ceili dances when performed socially are often performed in a progressive style. At the end of one whole iteration of the dance (lead around and body), instead of stopping, the groups move on to the next set of partners in the line. Ceili dances that can be
performed progressively are: Walls of Limerick, Siege of Ennis, Haymaker's Jig, and Fairy Reel. When there is a large social gathering, there will often be a caller for the dance, though it is a very different style from square dancing caller. A ceili caller is usually the teacher or most experienced dancer of the group who has the dance memorized.
They then call the movements out in a non-stylized way, intended to remind those who are non-dancers when and where to move. Social ceili dances are often the easiest dances and very easy to shuffle through as a non-dancer. A caller makes sure that everyone at a social dance can participate.
Embellishments are accepted and fun in social ceili dances, women adding spins or changing the style of a swing based on the skill of a partner.
Souce: Wikipedia; photo - yahoo