Friday, December 9, 2011

The Joy of Sets in Greater Boston

The Joy of Sets is a blog just for Irish Set Dancing in the greater Boston and the broader New England area that includes information on classes, events, venues, and the traditional Irish music that makes the dancing so lively and fun.

Welcome to those who are new to set dancing! There are many classes in various locations around New England to learn the many fun sets that are danced in Ireland and around the world. There are a few basic simple steps used in dancing the sets; these are combined in various dances in a way that gives each set its unique style. When it's time for the new dancer to "branch out" and dance at other locations in the community, there are many classes and dance sessions just about every night of the week to expand your repertoire and your social network.

Set dancers are encouraged to share information about set dancing with other greater Boston set dancers and notify the community about upcoming events. Check the list of special workshops, ceillis, and other events for times and places.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beginner Irish Set Dancing Classes at Harrington's

Try something new this summer with an Irish set dancing class at Harrington's Pub in Wakefield (MA).  Here's the updated summer class schedule. Every Monday night at 7:30, Frank & Eileen teach a new set. See details here.

This is a perfect opportunity for beginners to learn the basic steps and most common sets danced year-round upstairs at Harrington's every Wednesday at 7:30 and indeed in the Greater Boston area where you can find a set dance or lesson just about every day of the week.

See the write-up in the Wakefield Patch.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Harrington's Set Dancers in Set Dancing News

Bill Lynch's current issue of Set Dancing News ran a photo-spread of the Harrington's Pub set dancing workshop with Patrick O'Dea that was held July 21. [magazine subscription form here in PDF format]


Patrick taught the Loch Neigh set (music notes and dance notes source).

The Lough Neagh is the largest lake in Ireland; it is 8 miles long by 15 miles wide, according to this YouTube vido of the lake Lough Neagh. It is located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland


The Joy of Sets article by Bill Lynch

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Caledonian Set

The Caledonian Set

Study Notes for The Caledonian Set:
Caledonean Study Notes
[Set Dancing News]
Caledonean Study Notes [San Francisco's Cooley-Keegan Branch CCE]

The Caledonian Set Figures (short descriptions):
[6 figures: all reels except 4th jig; 6th hornpipe]
Figure 1 -House Across [or, home-house-home] (Reels)
Figure 2 - House Around (Reels)
Figure 3 - Home & Across (Reels)
Figure 4 - House Opposite (Jigs)
Figure 5 - House All the Ladies (Reels)*
Figure 6 - Hornpipe

Caledonian Set Videos:
video First Two Figures of The Caledonian Set Irish Dancing At Milltown Malbay 2006
video First Figure on You Tube
video First & Second Figure of the Caledonian Set Midwinter Set Dance Weekend 2009, Caledonian 1 & 2
video Second Figure on You Tube - (see 1st & 2nd above)
video Second and Third Figure of the Caledonian danced at Harrington's in Wakefield (on this website)
 video Third Figure on You Tube
video Third and Fourth Set of the Caledonian Midwinter Set Dance Weekend 2009, Caledonian 3 & 4
video Fourth Figure of the Caledonian
video Fifth Figure of the Caledonian
video Fifth & Sixth Figures of the Caledonan Midwinter Set Dance Weekend 2009, Caledonian 3 & 4
video Sixth Figure of the Caledonian

Caledonean Reel Footwork:
"The Clare style reel step is used for all reel figures and the 'down' jig step for the Fourth Figure." (Set Dancing News)
Ladies Caledonion Reel Battering Pattern for Set Dancers (links) used in the advance retire or dance in place
video Ladies Caledonean Footwork Video [and a one, and a one, and a one then two] by YouTube - MaryMcKibbon
Gents "This footwork pattern repeats over n over for the entire Caledonian set dance. Its stepped off during swings, dance at homes, house around, etc." Hoilands http://www.hoilands.com/
video Gents Caledonean Footwork Video [and a one, and a one, and a one then two] by YouTube - MaryMcKibbon
* "Often when dancing the Fifth Figure, all dancers will advance and retire rather than just the dancing couples, and both ladies and the non-dancing gents will turn in place as the dancing gents change partners" (Set Dancing News)

Photos of Maine Set Dancing Workshop with Tony Ryan April 2008





Posted by Picasa

See related post:The Antrim Square Set

The Antrim Square Set

The first time I danced The Antrim Square Set was at the Irish Set Dancing weekend in Yarmouth, Maine (related post), hosted by Cathy & Bill Gavin in April 20008. Tony Ryan was the workshop teacher for the weekend and he introduced The Antrim Square to the area; it had already been big in Ireland. Here are the set dancing notes to the Antrim Square set, a short description of each figure, and links to YouTube videos of the figures being danced.

Set Dancing teachers demonstrate The Antrim Square at the Tony Ryan workshop in Maine. Dancing from left: Pat & Barry Callahan (Rhode Island), Cathy & Bill Gavin (Maine), Tony Ryan (Ireland - white shirt) and Ger Cooney-Browne (Massachusetts), and unknown-to-me (sorry) [more photos here]

Antrim Square Set

Study Notes:
Antrim Square Study Notes - Newcastle Irish Set Dancers
Antrim Square Study Notes - Larry Taylor
some common abbreviations in set dancing notation (see short notes below)

Antrim Square Videos:

  • Tractor Square Dance - The tractors are dancing! The beginning of this figure is identical to the "Big Square" in the Antrim
Short Notes:


Fig 1 (reel) Ladies Star , Gents Star,  Advance-Right Square
All: LAR in sweetheart hold,  pivot back & Swing.
Tops: Ladies Star (r-l), Gents Star (r-l). TCs House & Ballyvourney-style square (advance-right 1-2, 123, backup to opp & 1/2 house to home).
All:  Big Square (tops advance / sides retire), reverse & Swing.
Sides: Ladies Star, Gents Star , Sides House & BV-style sq.
All: Big Square (sides advance / tops retire), reverse & Swing; House.

Fig 2 (jig) Crossovers & Basket
All:  LAR in sweetheart hold,  pivot back & Swing.
Tops: Ladies cross, gents cross, ladies cross back (& move into the center) gents cross back (& move into the center), Basket (swing-4) & Swing.
All: Big Square (tops advance / sides retire), reverse & swing.
Sides: Ladies cross, gents cross, basket & swing.
All: Big Square (sides advance / tops retire), reverse & Swing; House.

Fig 3 (polka) Slide & Change; Swing Corners, Swing Partners
All: LAR in sweetheart hold,  pivot back & Swing.
Tops: Slide & Change, Swing Corners, All Swing Partners.
All: Big Square (tops advance / sides retire), reverse & swing.
Sides:  Slide & Change, Swing Corners, All Swing Partners.
All: Big Square (sides advance / tops retire), reverse & Swing; House.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Patrick O'Dea in Boston at Harrington's

Patrick O'Dea, one of Ireland's foremost Irish dance masters, will make a stop on his brief US tour at Harrington's in Wakefield this Wednesday, June 21st. O'Dea will teach a few set dances at a workshop in the function room upstairs at Harrington's, starting at 7:30. The charge for the workshop and light refreshments is $12.

Patrick O'Dea teaching his "old style" Irish step dancing
at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton July 2008

Patrick  was born in County Clare, Ireland, grew up outside of London, and now lives in Roscommon, Ireland. He's recognized as a modern-day Irish dancing master because of his encyclopedic knowledge of traditional steps and his unbroken lineage to the dance masters of the 1700s.

Venue: Harrington's Food & Spirits, 17 Water Street, Wakefield, MA
Website: http://www.harringtonspub.com

The Joy of Sets Related Websites

Joy of Sets - all about Irish Set Dancing
Irish Set Dancing - international social network for set dancers