The jig (port) is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type, popular in Ireland. The jig derives its name from the French word gigue, meaning small fiddle, or giga, the Italian name of a short piece of music much in style in the Middle Ages. It was widely played as a dance tune at Irish fairs, and from the music the dance took its name.
The "Irish jig" is a popular tune-type within the traditions of Irish dance music, second only to the reel, and popular but somewhat less common in Scottish country dance music. It is transcribed in compound meter, being 6/8 time (2 beats to the measure, each divided into 3 eighth notes). 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 so 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 sift 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.
are in 9/8 time. Because of the longer measures, they are longer than the reel
and the light jig, with the same amount of bars to the music. The dance is performed high on the toes, and is often considered the "ballet of Irish dance" because of its graceful movements that seem to slip the performers across the floor. Slip jigs are performed at a speed of 113 at feiseanna.
Single jigs, or hop jigs are the least common of the jigs, performed in ghillies, in a 6/8 or less commonly a 12/8 time. This type of jig is not widely performed at feiseanna across the United States, but is more common in Europe.
Treble jigs are performed in hard shoes, and also to a 6/8 time meter. They are characterized by stomps, trebles, and clicks. Many set dances are performed in treble jig time, a few being Drunken Gauger, Blackthorne Stick, The Three Sea Captains, and St. Patrick's Day. Two types of treble jigs are performed at feiseanna: the traditional and non-traditional (slow) treble jigs. Beginners will do a treble jig at traditional speed (92bpm), while more advanced dancers will dance the non-traditional (slow) treble jig at 73bpm
- Baskerville, Charles Read. The Elizabethan Jig. 1929.
- Brissenden, Alan. Shakespeare and the Dance. 1981.