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Irish Dancing


LATEST: National Feis 2014 (25-26 Oct, Christchurch)  Syllabus entry form

Speech and Instrumental Section Syllabus and Entry form can be obtained by emailing


Irish dancing or Irish dance is a group of traditional dance forms originating in Ireland which can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dance. Irish dancing was popularised internationally in 1994 by the world-famous show Riverdance.

Irish social dances include céilí and set dancing. Set dances are quadrilles, danced by four couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations (céilí) of two to sixteen people. In addition to their formation, there are significant stylistic differences between these two forms of social dance. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dancing community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Stepdancing as a modern form, is descended directly from old-style step dancing. There are several different forms of stepdancing in Ireland, including sean-nós dancing and performance solo dancing.  Solo stepdancing falls into two broad categories based on the shoes worn: hard shoe (or heavy shoe) and soft shoe (or light shoe) dances and have names such as reel, slip-jig and hornpipe.

In Ireland people dance for fun and in competition. An organised step dance competition is referred to as a feis (pronounced “fesh”, plural feiseanna). The word feis means “festival” in Irish, and strictly speaking would also have competitions in music and crafts.

The Irish Dancing Commission (An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha) was established as an authority in 1930 to promote and foster all forms of  Irish dance.


If you’d like to learn to Irish dance in Christchurch, please contact one of our many dance schools, or email the society with the subject line Gaelic Dancers:

Kay-Hallissey Dancing School

O’Neill Dancing School




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Phone: (+64) 3-338-8020
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