About a year ago, the Up & Over It crew -- comprising dancers Peter Harding and Suzanne Cleary, and video producer Jonny Reed -- posted its now famous "We No Speak Americano" hand-dance video on YouTube. The stone-faced dancers caught the attention of the world, and they were pitched into sudden stardom after the video became a viral hit.
In their new video "Hands," the crew references the previous year, "explores the sensationalism of Internet hype and reflects on their struggle to balance commercial success with artistic integrity," according to a statement provided by the group.
While the original intent of producing "We No Speak Americano" was to break the Irish dance mold set by shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, the dancers found themselves "cornered" creatively.
“Our message has always been that professional Irish dance can be many things. It can be more than just a museum piece about the famine, more than Riverdance or Lord of the Dance, and it can be more than hand dancing,” Cleary said.
The new video, performed to the track "Hands" by the Ting Tings, marks the end of the hand-dance era for Up & Over It -- for a while at least, Harding said, adding, "the TV appearances and perceived commercial success are great, but we don’t want our work to just be consumed passively. We want to carry on contributing to Irish dance’s evolvement and its relevance in the
broader dance landscape.”
The dark imagery in "Hands," paired with the beat-up appearance of Harding and Cleary, illustrates the emotions the dancers have toward the popular view of Irish dance. Reed called these disgruntled, disheveled characters a "comment on the endless amount of carbon-copy Irish dance shows that are out there," adding that Cleary and Harding often turn to these characters when they feel like pigeon-holed, abused professional show dancers.
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