Where did social dance originated? – History Of Social Dances Examples Of Adjectives
Cyrano says the dance came from dance clubs and was “a way to bring people together”. “There was a social movement called the Irish dance and the British dance movement that was a direct descendent of that. A dance club would hold social dances, sometimes with music and sometimes without,” he adds.
This dance tradition in Ireland lasted until around the 1830s, when “Irish people were generally considered to be the lowest or lowest in society”, and the women who did the best were considered to be “bad hags”. (At least, this is according to one of the most famous historians on Irish and British dance, Thomas Byrne.)
Cyrano was born, educated and came of age in the era before the birth of Irish nationalism, during which Irish dance became the preserve of one class, mostly middle-class “bachelors”.
After Ireland gained independence in 1922, “there was a general loosening up of attitudes towards the Irish dancing and the women performing,” says Byrne. That meant that some dancers were no longer considered “bad hags” either, and by the time of the 1960s some of those who were considered “bad hags” were moving the genre towards a more “classically Irish” direction.
It’s an ongoing debate. In 2015 a book was published by David Murphy titled Fáilte Éireann Dancer, by the writer and musician Conor McPherson. Murphy says he agrees with Byrne’s view that dance in modern Ireland reflects the changing attitudes of the society in which it was played.
“I didn’t want to be dismissive of the dance. It wasn’t like I was dismissing it. On the contrary,” says Murphy. “It’s not an object like that, it’s a social dance and it’s an important dance for Ireland because it was the original dance of our country.”
The fact that Byrne doesn’t agree with Murphy’s interpretation is a testament to a certain understanding of the relationship between dance and society at the turn of the 20th century. “I think the Irish dance, the Irish social dance, has come a long way from the attitudes of the past. There’s an awareness of class division in the 21st century,” says Byrne.
He cites the recent revival of old Irish dance dances like the rufi as examples. On his personal website he states that the rufi was introduced to Ireland in 1848 and “remains a national tradition”.
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