Sean-nós Dancing Workshop
Open to adults and teenagers
Time TBD based on demand
Instructor: Brian Ó hAirt
Location: CelticMKE Center (formerly the Milwaukee Irish Fest Center)
This workshop will focus on building an awareness of timing, weight distribution, foot placement, and connection to the music--aside from the general teaching of steps associated with this dance form. Several minutes are spent warming up and stretching before and after the bulk of teaching. I also allow time for 'stepping out'--i.e. dancing freely to the music to practice newly acquired material in a playful, relaxed atmosphere.
Students must pay a $12 administrative fee for individuals or $24 per family of two or more each semester, due on the first day of class. See our policies for more details.
Brian Ó hAirt learned old-style Irish step dancing in his teens and not long after was exposed to the sean-nós dancing tradition of Conamara in western Co. Galway by dancers Róisín Ní Mhainín and Seosamh Ó Neachtain. This exposure inspired him to continue his burgeoning dedication to the Irish language (Gaeilge), and the sean-nós dancing and singing styles from that region. While living there in 2003, he became the first and only American-born prize winner at Cruinniú na mBád's sean-nós dancing competition held outside of Winkle’s pub in Kinvara, Co. Galway. It was there he was introduced to Pádraic Ó hOibicín’s unique style of sean-nós dancing—one very much focused on both subtle humor and intricate phrasing. He has since worked with and been inspired by Pádraic's dancing, while further developing his own dance style which is informed not only by the steps of Róisín and Seosamh but also his peers and his own music making on button accordion and concertina.
About Sean-nós dancing
Sean-nós dancing is a percussive dance form from the southern Conamara region of western County Galway. It is improvisational and focuses on both accompanying and guiding the musician by way of repetitive timing steps punctuated by tricks, which emulate the melodic structure of the tune. A dancer wears hard leather-soled shoes (or something with a good thwack!) and positions his or herself near the musician so as to accommodate this musical conversation. The body is relaxed, the steps are often asymmetrical, yet the form is reminiscent of (but creates an experience quite different from) modern Irish step dancing.
Sean-nós dancing is a welcome alternative to step dancing for individuals interested in Irish dance but physically limited. It’s less impactful and athletic than step dancing but engages both the body and mind in a way that’s scientifically proven to benefit aging individuals or those with physical/cognitive challenges. It’s also a helpful addition to step-dancers as they must adjust their weight, foot position, and posture; think critically of music as symbiotic with and not just accompaniment to their dance; as well as think creatively on their toes to create new choreography on spot. Because sean-nós dancing comes from one of the Irish Gaelic speaking communities of Ireland, there is also a cultural component to this dance form, which requires dancers to consider and learn about the families in those communities who uphold this tradition and the cultural events that showcase it.
Interested in our Sean-nós Dancing Workshop? Complete the form below to enroll or to ask a question.
Important: you will have to click the Submit button twice to complete the form. A successful submission will display a confirmation screen. Thank you!
* Required Fields
Would you like to join our email list? Check this box to receive Milwaukee Irish Fest School of Music news!