Irish dances can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dances. Irish social dancing can be divided further into céilí and set dancing. Irish set and céilí dances are usually danced by formations (sets) of couples, usually four, to over 16 people. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dance community; in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Irish performance dancing is traditionally referred to as stepdance. Irish stepdance, popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show “Riverdance,” is notable for its rapid leg movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary. Most competitive stepdances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using traditional set and céilí dances. The solo stepdance is generally characterized by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet.

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