The Jig (Irish: port) is a form of lively folk dance, as well as the accompanying dance tune, originating in England in the sixteenth century and today most associated with Irish dance music and Scottish country dance music. Jigs were originally in 2/4 time, but have been adapted to a variety of time signatures, by which they are often classified into groups, including light jigs, slip jigs, single jigs, and treble jigs.
The term jig was probably derived from the French giguer, meaning 'to jump' or giga, the Italian. It was known as a dance in sixteenth-century England, often in 2/4 time, and the term was used for a dancing entertainment in sixteenth century plays. Later the dance began to be associated with music particularly in 6/8 time, and with slip jigs 9/8 time.
The Jig in Ireland and Scotland
During the seventeenth century the dance was adopted in Ireland and Scotland, where it was widely adapted, and with which countries they are now most often associated. The jig is second only to the reel in traditional Irish dance; it is popular but somewhat less common in Scottish country dance music. It is transcribed in compound meter, being 6/8 time. The most common structure of a jig is two eight-bar parts, performing two different steps, each once on the right foot, and one on the left foot. As with most other types of dance tunes in Irish music, at a session or a dance it is common for two or more jigs to be strung together in a set, flowing on without interruption.
Light jigs are the fastest of the jigs, danced in ghillies, and are performed in 6/8 time. The performer's feet rarely leave the ground for long, as the step is fast, typically performed at a speed around 116 at feiseanna. There are several light jig steps, varying with each dance school, but one step is almost standard in all light jigs. This step is known as the rising step, or the rise and grind. This is the right side version of it: Put your weight on your left foot and lift your right foot off the ground. Hop on your left foot once. Hop on your left foot again, bringing your right foot back behind your left foot and then shift your weight onto your right foot, leaving your left foot in the air. Dancers use the phrase "hop, hop back" for these three movements, and there is a slight pause between the hop, and hop back. The next movement is a hop on your right foot. Then you shift your weight on your feet , left-right-left-right. The phrase for this whole movement is: "hop, hop back, hop back 2-3-4." To do the step on the left foot, reverse the left and right directions.
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