A History of Irish Step Dance


Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Today is the day of the year to wear green, drink green beer, and pretend you know how to Irish step dance.

Chances are you've seen Riverdance, or Lord of the Dance...but do you actually know the history of this cultural dance?

Irish step dancing was formed over thousands of years of cultural and social influences. Historical evidence suggests that the first practitioners of this form were the Druids, who used dance as a part of their religious rituals that paid homage to the trees and sun. When the Celts arrived in Ireland, they brought their own folk dances.

in the twelfth century, the Anglo-Norman conquest brought the Norman traditions and culture to Ireland. As time went on, dances were performed in castles, and at festivals and wakes. The dancing was often accompanied by bagpipe and harp music.

Today, Irish dancers wear costumes to pay homage to the clothing of the past, and each school of dance has its own distinct costume. There are numerous competitions around the globe, and many opportunities for audiences to enjoy this fun and unique dance form!

Stay safe, and have a great St. Patrick's Day!

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.