Irish Social Dancing

children wrenning
children Irish set dancing



Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Sudbury Irish Arts Association, Inc.’s (CCE SIAA) Irish Social Dance – Set Dancing and Céilí Dancing

Irish Social dances are fun, easily learned, and are a very social affair. Every person dancing usually has a large smile on their face. Even people who have never danced before can pick up the dances quickly. The dancing is non-competitive. No partner is required and the dancers range from the very young to the very old. And you don’t need to be Irish to enjoy the music and dance of Ireland.

Set Dancing

Set dancing is a form of social dancing which has been popular in Ireland for over 200 years. Sets are danced by four couples in a square, and usually consist of three to six figures (patterns) with a short pause between each. They are descended from the French quadrilles, which were brought to Ireland by the British army in the eighteenth century. Square dancing probably developed from set dancing. Sets are very popular today in Ireland and in communities throughout the world.

The music these figures are usually danced to can include reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas or sometimes the occasional fling. In set dancing there is less emphasis on footwork and more on the figures (the formation/movements of the dancers within the 'set.'). The basic footwork can be described as a low, ‘sliding’ movement. There are many different styles, from basic steps to very elaborately embellished steps. Just enjoy your own ‘style’ and have fun!

Research has documented the health benefits of set dancing for people with various conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For example: 

Recent evidence has found that Irish set dancing classes improved balance and mobility in people with Parkinson’s disease.  This research was conducted by Daniele Volpe, an Italian neurologist. Volpe et al. BMC Geriatrics 2013, 

Both the Irish set dancing and physiotherapy exercise program were shown to be feasible and safe. There were no differences between groups in the rate of adverse events such as falls, serious injuries, death or rates of admission to hospital. Compliance and adherence to both the exercise and dance programs were very high and attrition rates were low over the 6 months of therapy. Although improvements were made in both groups, the dance group showed superior results to standard physiotherapy in relation to freezing of gait, balance and motor disability.

Research by Kattenstroth et al. in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience, July 2010 found:  

This observation implies that maintaining a regular schedule of dancing into old age can preserve cognitive, motor and perceptual abilities and prevent them from degradation. We conclude that the far-reaching beneficial effects found in the Alzheimer Disease group make dance, beyond its ability to facilitate balance and posture, a prime candidate for the preservation of everyday life competence of elderly individuals.” 

They also found in another study that six months of dance intervention enhances postural sensorimotor and cognitive performance in the elderly without affecting cardio-respiratory functions. Kattenstroth et al. in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience, February 2013.


All set dancing classes are sponsored and free.

Please bring water and a snack with you!

From 1:00—4:00 pm every Saturday in the gym excluding long weekends and school holidays and summer months. At the Carl A. Nesbitt School Gym - 1241 Roy Avenue (Street across from Walmart in New Sudbury) – access through the front door of the school

Dates until summer break include:

May 7, 14, 28
June 4, 11, 18

For More Information:

Call Bridgit at 705-855- 3564
Call Eileen at 705-522- 8012
Call Crystal at 705-585- 1740

Regular bimonthly Céilí Dances

Ceili’ is an Irish-language word that means social gathering or dance party. Ceili is fun partner dancing, accessible immediately to virtually everyone as the dances are easy to learn. While the ceili dance can also be fun to watch, we invite you to join the party on the dance floor. It’s a fun way to get exercise, enjoy Irish music, explore Irish culture, meet new people, and try a new form of dance. Wear comfortable, supportive, secure shoes (avoid flip-flops or high heels).

Dancing can be aerobic, so plan on comfortable clothing layers that breathe. You do not need to bring a partner.  Come by yourself and make new friends, or bring a friend or several.  It's a whole lot of fun, it's great exercise, and you'll be dancing with a lot of really nice people.

We hold bi-monthly Céilí dances at the Moose Lodge at 212 Frood Road. They start at 7:30 pm and continue until 11:00 pm. The Wild Geese provide live music and Maureen Mulvey O’Leary is the Master Dance Teacher from Toronto who calls the dances. The dances can be easily learned on the spot and you often end up dancing with all the other dancers on the floor. There are always plenty of experienced dancers to help newcomers along.  There is a cash bar at the venue but refreshments and Irish snacks are provided free of charge. Many participants drink water.


Adults -
Members $13.00
Non-members $17.00

At the door - $20.00

Students - $7.00

Children 12 and under - Free

Dates of Céilí Dances

  • May 6 at Moose Lodge starts at 7:30 – 11:00
  • September 16 at Moose Lodge starts at 7:30 – 11:00
  • October 21 – 23 at Moose Lodge – this is our big Irish Traditions weekend and there will be one on the Friday and another on the Saturday. More information to come.
  • November 11 at Moose Lodge starts at 7:30 – 11:00
  • January 9, 2017 at Moose Lodge starts at 7:30 – 11:00

For Tickets or More Information:

Call Bridgit at 705-855- 3564
Call Eileen at 705-522- 8012
Call Crystal at 705-585- 1740

Set Dancing lessons are funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.