Marie Brouder is our set dance teacher at the Melbourne Comhaltas and if she can’t get you up to join in the dancing, nobody can. Here is her own story of how she got in to set dancing.
“I have been set dancing for nearly 30 years, I started in Ireland in the early ’80’s when the big surge in it’s popularity was happening. It was my sister that got me involved in joining a group that was taking part in the GAA “Scor “, they were missing one lady for the group, as they say the rest is history, I was hooked. When I arrived in Australia in 1988 and became a member of Comhaltas (I was a member of my local branch Leixlip at home). Back then nobody had heard of set dancing, so I started to show them what I knew and it just took off from there.
Set Dancing, like the Irish language, was kept alive in small pockets around Ireland but in the 70’s, a Tipperary man Connie Ryan started classes in Dublin and classes were also held in the Pipers Club. Now there are dance classes all over the world. Here in Australia you can go to a set dance class in nearly every state and see it demostrated and taught at most of the Folk festivals. We have been very fortunate over the years, with two of the best dance masters, doing workshops here in Melbourne & Sydney, Pat Murphy (Tipperary), author of the dance books “Toss the Feathers, “Flowing Tide” and “Apples in Winter”, and also Ger Butler (Roscommon), a great Sean Nos dancer & teacher. You can see Ger on Youtube. Also over the years we have had other dancers here from Ireland that have joined our classes and some have done workshops, like Patrick O’Dea. If you want to have good night of dancing and great social night out, why not pop in to Comhaltas on a Wednesday night from 7.30pm – 10pm”
Set dancing has been popular in Ireland for nearly 200 years.
It is usually danced by 2 or 4 couples to traditional Irish music.
Instructions for 80 sets are provided on this popular site: