LEWISTON – Area residents of all ages are invited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Monday, March 17, at an Irish dance party hosted by the Lewiston Public Library. Festivities will get under way at 6:30 and end at 9 p.m. with a last waltz.

The event, which is open to the public free of charge, will feature folk dance demonstrations and instruction by a group of local Irish dance devotees who specialize in doing set dances. These are similar to American square dances but are generally danced at a peppier tempo and always to jigs, reels and other types of tunes traditional to the Emerald Isle.

Providing live music will be the Sizzlin’ Shamrocks, an ensemble of young fiddlers under the direction of Greg Boardman.

Jeannette Gross, who leads the dance group with her husband, Stuart, said members are always eager to introduce people to the charms of Irish dancing, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day.

The first 45 minutes of the program are designed for families and will feature fun and easy Irish “ceili” dances (barn dances), which can be mastered by children as young as 5 when partnered with an adult. At 7:15, the set dance group will perform one of its showier numbers, followed by a workshop for teens and adults on basic set dance figures.

Set dancing consists of a series of moves danced in a square formation by eight dancers. The sets were choreographed long ago in the various counties or locales of Ireland after which they are named, such as the Kerry Set and Connemara Set.

No prior dance experience is needed to participate, organizers emphasize. “It’s more about having fun than mastering a skill,” said Gross.

“This type of dancing and the music that goes with it is very closely related to the old-time French Canadian jigs-and-reels tradition,” said Cindy Larock, LPL cultural coordinator. “So members of our Franco-American community are sure to enjoy themselves, as is anyone else who appreciates lively fiddle music and a chance to get merry with others, young and old.”

Nevertheless, as a tribute to St. Patrick, all attendees of Irish heritage, as well as anyone wearing an item of green clothing in honor of the day, will be invited to enter a prize drawing, noted Larock.

The St. Patrick’s Day event will be held in Callahan Hall on the third floor of the library, 200 Lisbon St. For more information, call the library at 513-3050.

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