Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2, Issue 1, Page 68

Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2, Issue 1, Page 68
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periodical Publisher
Pigott & Co. 1927
periodical Editor
Roche, Francis
periodical Title
Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes
volume Number
issue Content
NOTE ON IRISH DANCINGcontinued.The Double Jig aPpears to have been regarded by those not conversant with Irish dancing as the most admiredand favoured of our national dances because of the much larger number of tunes in that classification, and of hearingthem oftener a art from dancing than the others. The disparity in this respect between the jigs and the hornpipes, forexample, indicates Lo nreference whatever for this dance beyond the reel or the hornpipe by dancers, but it probablydenotes a greater liking fcc its simpler rhythm by the average player, or the Mnskilled musician. This disproportionmay be explained by stating that our old music abounded in airs and tunes of the jig type, and that very many ofthem have been utilised for the dance, or adapted to it, and classified as double jigs, while in the hornpipe, the tunesare for the greater part original. At present the Douhle is danced only as a bout consisting of elaborate and difficultsteps, but, formerly, it also inciude a range f easy steps called the Moinin Jig which was in much request onsocial occasions.The Reel, in the old style, had two distinct sets or ranges of stepssingle and double. The former, beingsimple, were danced to lively tunes in single or two-four time, while for the latter, which are of a difficult hornpipecharacter, the slower old double reel tunes in time were employed. The steps, as a whole, ranged from very easyto very difficult. As a social dance with partners it was a general favourite, for many of the steps were so easy thatyoung and old could participate. The double steps towards the end (if used) were danced by the girls with a becominggrace, and free from any appearance of vulgarity. When danced as a bout it comprised a selection from both rangesof steps. These formed a splendid itemvaried, robust, and enthusing; the music contributing in no small degreethereto, for two tunes contrasting in style were required for its performance. The change from one to the other wasmade on a signal from the dancersusually a promenade in the bout, and hands across in the other case. In com-paring the merits of this truly national and fine dance with the feeble, flurried, forced, and generally inferior style ofthat which has been put in its place the conclusion to be drawn is obvious.The Single, or Ladies Hornpipe, to which reference has already been made, was a special set of steps for thefair sex. They ranged from very easy to moderately difficult, and were in many respects not unlike the more advancedsteps of the single reel, excluding their peculiar hornpipe finish. In style it was, appropriately, light, easy and graceful,and was danced to the lively simple tunes in two-four time. The Male, or Double Hornpipe, with which we are allfamiliar, is composed of difficult trebling steps, and necessitates the employment of the slower and more complextunes in time for performance.All noisy masculine movements of the drumming and grinding description were rigidly excluded fromfemale dancing by the old. masters, and both the shuffle and light batter used instead. The teachers ofthe old school were strict regarding style and neatness of execution, and were of courteous manner. They were carefullyand thoroughly trained for their calling, and taught the art to their sons, so that the traditional style became a heritagewhich it was their privilege to preserve and to impart to ,nersa duty which they performed with the utmost fidelity.Alas, that this fine old type should have passed away, and that we should be compelled to witness so much that isspurious and vulgar, and altogether at variance with our great traditions.The Single and Hop Jigs, although danced as bouts, are mainly social dances. They are of a simple, sprightlyand graceful character and include steps and figures; for example, the slip and side-steps for changing places, handsacross and hands four round alternatively.Regarding our national dances in general, it may be observed that the Slip or Hop Jig is the oldest as well asthe most characteristic of them. Other nations also have their gigas, reels, and hornpipes, but none of them a dancein any respect like this. We can, therefore, claim it as being exclusively our own.The Fling has been danced in Ireland for generations and is the only dance in which gestures are used. Thesteps are varied and interesting, some of the movements resembling those of the Single Jig.Set Dances are special solo dances or bouts resembling the jig, reel and hornpipe in character, but, owing totheir irregular structure in comparison with them, are more difficult, and demand a more finished technique fromthe performer. They have always appealed, accordingly, to accomplished dancers as a medium giving full scope fora display of skill and dexterity. Wehave about twenty of these fine dances, and in such a variety of style and rhythmas to embrace all our step dances, but, with the exception of the Blackbird,and one or two others, they have beensadly neglected all these years during which we have been surfeited with Miss McLeodand her progeny. Apart fromthose in one movement only, their chief peculiarity lies in the irregularity of form or development of the second move-ment which constitutes the Set. This varies from four to twelve bars in length and generally modulates into thefirst movement, or a strain thereof, with which it is brought to a close. Competitions were usually decided in formertimes, particularly between rival teachers, according to the degree of proficiency displaced by the competitorsoften ona soaped table-in all these dances.
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periodical Author
Roche, Francis
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Roche, Francis - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 2