The most fun you can have on two feet
Other set dancing and related events
Ballyduff Set in Rustico, PEI, 2005
During 2006-2008, An Cumann,the Irish Association of Nova Scotia, held a concert series entitled "To Drive the Cold Winter Away." All performances were held in the lovely Music Room on Lady Hammond Road. Poetry recitations in Irish accents rounded out the evenings.
2007-2008 - At Samhain, the Celtic New Year, Bill Plaskett and Bridget Garvey presented music from all over the Celtic world. Ronnie MacEachern performed traditional and uniquely contemporary ballads. A Solstice-time concert featured harpists Ardyth and Jennifer with songs of the season. Instrumentalist Kevin Roach and singer Jimmy Sweeney warmed the mid-winter. In celebration of St. Bridget's Day, the traditional Irish first day of spring, a group of women Celtic musicians presented songs, stories and instrumentals arranged for flute, fiddle and harp. Performers were Denise Aspinall and Tessa Wingate from Wolfville, with Cheryl Reid O'Hagan, Cathy Coates, Kate Dunlay, Jane Lombard and Adele Megann from metro Halifax.
2006-2007 - New Wave Celtic band MacCrimmon's Revenge marked Samhain, the beginning of Celtic winter and the origin of Hallowe'en, with eerie instrumentals, haunting songs and ghost stories. Harpist Cheryl Reid O'Hagan and friends, including Maeve, John Spurns and Jennifer Publicover, celebrated Christmas and Winter Solstice. Irish Studies prof Joe Murphy, and Scaip na Cleiti fiddler Kevin Roach joined the Old Triangle's most popular singer, Jimmy Sweeney, to entertain us with Songs from the Hearth, in a lovely evening of songs not usually heard in pubs! In honour of St. Bridget's Day, Celtic women musicians entertained. Jane Lombard, Cheryl Reid O'Hagan, Jennifer Publicover, Kate Dunlay, Susannah Murphy, Nancy Grossert and Erin Dempsey delighted the audience with lively and lovely music. "Facts" about the elusive Bridget, pagan goddess and Christian saint, were interwoven with the music, and handmade St. Bridget's crosses of straw decorated the cozy venue.
The 2012 Gathering Traditional Festival will take place in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, February 22 to 26. Visitors flock from all over the world, including Nova Scotia for music and dancing.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
In the spring we hold the annual Crossroads Ceili in Halifax. This all-ages dance event features live music and called dances as will as performances by Snap.
If you cross enough roads, eventually you get back where you started. Back by popular demand and just in time for St Patrick's Day, was the 2nd Annual Crossroads Ceili. This ALL-AGES event featured some of the city's finest Celtic musicians (Kevin Roach, Glenn Coolen, Jane Lombard, Mark Currie), easy set, ceili and two-hand dances with instruction from Elizabeth MacDonald and Colleen Putt, performances from the Diaga Irish Dancers, and more!
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (pronounced "kol-tus kyol-tori air-in") or CCE for short, is a worldwide organization based in Ireland, committed to the preservation and practice of traditional Irish arts such as music, singing, dance, and language. CCE North America holds an annual convention the weekend following Easter with many dance workshops and ceilis. Several Nova Scotian dancers have attended over the years. The 2009 edition was held in St. Louis, Missouri, and the 2010 convention will be in Parsippany, New Jersey.
The Scaip na Cleiti dancers were swept up in Titanic centenary like the rest of the world. Halifax played a significant role in the disaster, by receiving and burying many of the bodies. And our annual Easter weekend, venue was owned by George Wright, the only Haligonian to perish in the sinking. On April 14, 2012, our demo team--in period costume--performed at the Night of the Bells, an evening of remembrance. Our set and step dancers represented the poor sods in third class, many of whom did not survive. In the happier days before the iceberg hit, the Irish passengers celebrated their culture with music and dance. Check out the video on YouTube. Our performance begins around 1:04.
The Prince Edward Island dancers hold a weekend of music-making and dancing every Victoria Day long weekend. Check out the PEI page for further information.
In 2012, we saw the first Pictou County Irish Day on Saturday, June 16, sponsored by An Cumann. Elizabeth MacDonald taught two classes: a sean-nos step class and an introduction to Irish social dance, including ceili, two-hand and set dances, in preparation for the ceili that evening. The fun was found at The Celtic Circle in New Glasgow.
Toronto's set dancers hold a Reel Blast each spring. Nova Scotian dancers have attended this event several times, and had a real blast! Check their website for details about the 2012 weekend, June 1-3.
We usually mark the Summer Solstice in some way. On June 21, 2006, we hosted a visiting group of dancers from New Jersey to a small ceili at the Celtic Corner. These folks ended a two-week bus tour of the Celtic Maritimes (Cape Breton, PEI and us) with this farewell ceili. In June 2008, they came back, and joined our Sunday session at the Old Triangle. Past solstice celebrations have included dancing on a bridge
in the woods (that's how it was explained to me) and dancing on the Sullivan's Pond Gazebo (in the pouring rain).
The Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week took place July 10-16, 2011 in New York State. Dancers from Nova Scotia and PEI have been several times to this blistering event.
The 2010 Willie Clancy School in County Clare will take place July 3-11. This week of classes and ceilis is the most popular international set dancing event. Nova Scotia dancers have
attended several times.
Bert & Annie, our friends from Cork, visited Newfoundland and the Maritimes yet again in 2009. They are a dynamic duo: teachers, dancers and musicians. The tour began in St. John's, Newfoundland where they again taught a dance workshop at the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival. They also visited Halifax, the Annapolis Valley and Prince Edward Island.
In August 2007, we welcomed home to Nova Scotia long-time dancers Elizabeth MacDonald and Dan Deslauriers. They had been living in
Germany for four years.
With the assistance of Culture Ireland, the Irish Association of Nova Scotia, An Cumann, held a weekend of events in September 2007 to celebrate Irish music and dancing. We welcomed set dance teacher Michael Loughnane, who was joined by Kerry musicians, accordion player Johnny Cronin and fiddler Paddy Jones. Events included: a concert at The Music Room with Gaelic singer Lewis MacKinnon; workshops in set dancing, fiddle, accordion and Gaelic culture; and a evening ceili. The visitors joined our usual activities at the Old Triangle on Sunday afternoon. On Monday evening, Michael taught the Sliabh Fraoch, Durrow Threshing Set and Sixteen-Hand Reel at our class--a lively end to a busy weekend.
Michael Loughnane is a well-known dance teacher and collector from Thurles, County Tipperary. Pat Murphy has published sets that Michael has collected. Michael is also the brother of Scaip na Cleiti member, Pat Loughnane, dance leader in the Annapolis Valley.
On Saturday, October 23, 2010, Scaip na Cleiti sponsored the first Re-Jigged: A Celebration of New Celtic Music & Dance. Kieran Jordan, a wonderful sean nos teacher from Boston offered both beginner and advanced classes. Re-Jigged also offered a full-day's worth of music workshops for instrumentalists. The day ended with a gala concert, followed by a combined Cape Breton/Irish ceili.
The second edition of Re-jigged expanded to two days this year, October 21-22. Kieran Jordan returned (this time with all her bones intact), and we offered even more music workshops. The gala concert featured Dwayne Cote & Duane Andrews, Colette Cheverie, Kieran Jordan, Zeph Caissie, Sabra MacGillivray and Joe Murphy. The evening was hosted by Tony Quinn, and the post-concert ceili was called by Elizabeth MacDonald and Colleen Putt.
Bert and Annie Moran, our dancing, singing, playing and teaching friends from County Cork were in Halifax and Charlottetown in October 2007 for dancing, singing, playing, teaching and general fun. Their friends, Jan the guitarist and Roger the piper, joined them.
Elizabeth MacDonald, our Halifax set dance teacher, conducted workshops in Prince Edward Island, November 10-11, 2007. Check out the PEI page for details.
Set dancing events take place around the world. Please check Set Dancing News for the ones nearest you.