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(IPA pronunciation:keɪli) dances vary widely throughout Ireland and the rest of the world. A céilí dance may be performed with as few as three people and as many as sixteen. Ceili dances may also be danced with an unlimited number of couples in a long line or proceeding around in a circle (Such as in Shoe the Donkey or the Gay Gordons). Céilí dances are often fast-paced and may be quite complicated. In a social setting, a céilí dance may be "called" -- that is, the upcoming steps are announced during the dance for the benefit of newcomers.
The name céilí dance was invented in the late 19th century by the Gaelic League, to distinguish non-quadrille dances from the quadrille-based set dances, which were thought to be a British or foreign influence in Ireland. Today, céili dancing is rarely performed in the Republic of Ireland but is active in Northern Ireland and the U.S.