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Irish Step Timeline
Transcript of Irish Step Timeline
Over these nine centuries many different peoples conquered and inhabited Ireland, each time leaving behind influences in Irish culture. Viking, Norman, and English customs changed the Irish language, music, and dance. All of these influences resulted in what was called country dancing. People danced in groups to cheerful music, joined together by holding ribbons or sticks. This country dancing was very popular with the lower class. Dance was a major part of any celebration, and even everyday life.
By the late 1700s, people known as "dancing masters" traveled around Ireland, staying in settlements for weeks at a time to teach the community new steps and technique. It was the dancing masters who refined the group dances and introduced solo dancing as well, with the precise footwork we see today. They danced to reels and jigs, and composed their own steps. It is because of these dancing masters that modern Irish Step dancing exists. They laid the foundation for Irish dance to evolve as it has over the recent centuries.
1893: The Gaelic League
During the 19th century there was a sudden movement to develop a strong Irish identity, so the Gaelic League was formed. It was a cultural organization, and its priority was to preserve the Irish language. Through this, it also promoted Irish dancing lessons and competitions, increasing the popularity of Irish Step by a huge amount. It was the London branch of the Gaelic League that invented the ceili, soon dance lessons and competitions were being held in the United States too.
1600 BC: First Music is Brought to Ireland
People from the region of modern-day Germany first brought music to Ireland.
1300 BC: First Feis
This was a celebration with music, dancing, and feasting. However, it was a step toward the dancing competitions that we see today, called feiseanna.
8th-17th Century: Different Cultures Influence Dancing in Ireland
500 BC: Celts come to Ireland
The Celts, or Keltoi, established their language and culture in Ireland for many years. Even after Christians came and changed much of the traditions in Ireland, the basic pagan movements of the Celts remained in country dance.
1700s: The Dancing Masters
1845: The Irish Potato Famine
The Great Potato Famine, along with the political tension with England, caused the mass immigration of the Irish people to other places around the world, mainly the United States. These immigrants brought with them Irish culture and heritage. That was how Irish Step started to become more internationally known.
1898: First modern feis
1930: Class/school costumes were established
1970: Solo costumes become in vogue
1994: Riverdance and other Irish dancing shows become popular
When Michael Flatley and Jean Butler performed on the Eurovision Song Contest, Irish Step dance become popular overnight. Then they went on to create several Irish dance shows to tour worldwide. This gave dancers a chance to have a professional job, and it spread awareness about Irish Step. It is because of shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance that Irish Step is as popular as it is today.