I was laughing and smiling through the wonderful re-telling of the McGing Irish Dancer's tale. Through dance, they were able to retell the story of St. Patrick, the Oilliphéist, the piper O'Rourke and the origin of the River Shannon. I had never heard the tale, so I had to hunt it down on the internet when I returned home from Chicago. "Oilliphéist" simply translates from Gaelic to giant beast, monster or reptile, and in the case of this story means giant serpent or snake.
The story goes that O'Rourke the Piper was playing his pipes and imbibed too heavily of the drink. Even drunk, he kept playing along the shores of the water that unbeknownst to him served as the watery lair of the Oilliphéist. At this point, I remarked to Ms. Steele what a convincing and comical drunk the dancer playing O'Rourke the Piper was, and that he was about the palest, red-headed Irishman in a kilt I had ever seen. She started laughing and explained that the piper, O'Rourke, was being portrayed by her son, champion dancer Kelcey Steele!
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The Oilliphéist was a monstrous snake with a horrible temper. He was so maddened by the drunken piper's music that he ate him. Even inside the snake, O'Rourke continued to play his pipes, and the Oilliphéist was so upset by the horrible music he became nauseated and spit the piper out. Along came Saint Patrick, played by three-time North American Champion Drew Lovejoy. Seeing Lovejoy vanquish the serpent and bless the crowd in his priestly vestments while his feet beat out rapid Irish dance steps was wonderful and the audience loved it!
When the Oilliphéist was finally driven from Ireland by Saint Patrick, its great and mighty tail gave one last angry thrash, splitting the land in two and forming the River Shannon. The River was performed by a pint-sized McGing Irish dancer pulling a long, blue scarf of fabric through the scene while wearing a blue fish costume. The collective "Awwwwwwws" that were heard in the ballroom earned major points in the adorable department. I looked around and saw smiles on every single face.
I loved the beautiful story, the talented dancing, and being blessed by Drew Lovejoy as he played St. Patrick. I also thoroughly-loved sharing space in the audience with Christine Carey Steele, TCRG and being able to see her many reactions to watching her artistic vision play out on the stage. What a fabulous gift! The McGing Irish Dancers dance drama was a real crowd-pleaser, and I can't wait to see what they do next!
Thank you to all the McGing Irish Dancers Irish dance drama dancers and teachers. I am so grateful I got to watch and review and enjoy these fabulous performances! Did you get to see them? Were you a part of any of the groups? Comment here to share your enthusiasm for Dance Drama.
Look on the Moms to Reel Boys blog here on IrishCentral for further installments in the 2012 North American Irish Dance Championships Dance Drama Review
Full results are available here. Check back here on IrishCentral's Irish dance page for more North American Irish Dancing Championship recaps, photos, interviews and results!