Sean-Nós Dance: A Traditional Irish Folk Dance Style

From Wikipedia: Sean-Nós dance is an old style traditional form of dancing that originated in the Connemara region on the west coast of Ireland. It is a very relaxed form of Irish dance. Sean-nós dance is done low to ground, stepping out to the music, similar to tap dance, but it is not the stage show event like the Step Dancing you see in productions of Riverdance. Sean-nós dancing is a very impromptu, rhythmic, and low key accompaniment to a lively traditional Irish band. The footwork “battering” is great to watch and listen to. These are typically done as a solo performer or in very small groups and are well suited to all ages. Often, the best sean-nós dancers are the old timers in the dark corners of the pub. (From Hoilands FAQ -What’s a ceili, sean nos and set dancing?)

Click to see Irish “Old Timer” Sean-Nos Dance Video

Sean nós in Irish Gaelic means “old style”, and is applied to the dance form as well as sean-nós song. These now less-common forms of Irish dance and traditional Irish singing have been documented in Irish history, but are still alive in parts of the Irish music scene today.

Its “low to the ground” footwork, improvised steps, free movement of the arms, and an emphasis upon a “battering step”, which sounds out more loudly the accented beat of the music, characterize sean-nós dance. By its nature, it follows the music closely. It is traditionally a solo dance form. Because sean-nós dancing is improvisational, it is not necessary for a pre-arranged routine or choreography to be decided upon by the dancer. Spontaneous expression is highly valued. Therefore, it is less common to see groups performing synchronized sean-nós dance, which requires choreography in advance. Instead, the dancers may dance in turns, playing off the energy of the other.

The brush dance, a sean-nós dance, is performed with a brush or broom. There are many stories about the origins of this traditional dance: the women doing their daily housework would drop their brooms and break into dance as a welcome respite from their work; it was a friendly, competitive dance between men and women; it is also written that this dance was performed by the traveling people when they went from house to house selling their wares, including brooms. They would perform the dance to attract attention and make it easier to sell their goods.

Click to see Irish Brush (Broom) Dance Video

See and learn Irish traditional dancing on an Ireland RnR tour in Ireland. Go to to see a selection of different tours in Ireland.

Additionally, West Point grads and alumni classes are invited to “Jump Into Ireland” on a one-week Ireland Reunions tour. Isn’t it about time you visited Ireland? What better fun way than with your college classmates and fellow alumni! Invite your Beast Barracks roommates, your Academic Year roommates, your Company mates, and your Ranger School buddies! Go to to learn more. Go Army!

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