I had the pleasure of teaching a sean nós & battering workshop in October with a group of 13 dancers from Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Canberra, on the 10th annual October set dancing weekend here in Canberra. We went through and learned our 3 step sean nós routine to hornpipes (see below), which was nervously but well performed to an expectant crowd the next day.
Not surprisingly though, the highlight was really getting stuck in to the battering steps, particularly the Clare battering step. This is a name that is loosely used for steps that are popularly danced in Clare to reels, and experienced dancers will recognise that very familiar tattoo immediately, as heard below:
I occasionally overhear fascinating conversations – as a bystander, you understand.
And so it was on this occasion when two women were recollecting their experience of set dancing and tut-tutting about other women dancers who dare to dance battering steps.
“In our day, it was never done” they said, with the implicit message was that “it shouldn’t be done”. My face was aflame as I sat there, not sure if this missive was being directed at me or not. I kept quiet.
My initial reaction was to feel a bit indignant. Yes, I’ve been known to batter – quite loudly at times and probably over enthusiastically – but I have always found the sound and subtle rhythms used in sets and sean nós completely addictive, and is how I got really hooked in the first place. I really, really wanted to be able to do THAT.Continue reading →