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Darrah Carr celebrates 15 years of transforming Irish dance into a style she calls ModErin

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Darrah Carr.
Darrah Carr.

One of the most significant aspects of the now 20-year-old phenomenon known as Riverdance has been to place the art form we call Irish stepdancing center stage as entertainment worthy of the most famous theaters all over the world.

In addition, the show engendered a liberation movement not only of restricted body parts during a performance, but also in inspiring legions of very talented dancers who worked so hard and ably to have their Irish dance careers be solely defined by the number of medals, trophies and feisiana involved in dancing for competition sake only.

The success and proliferation of shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance provided gainful employment and experience, and for a very few sparked greater advancement and evolution for Irish dancers who wanted to continue the art form but allow it to breathe in a less conforming environment like competition.

In the case of dancer and choreographer Darrah Carr from Toledo, Ohio, the shows prompted a fascination with marrying the old traditional world of Irish dance with a more open and expressive realm of modern dance which we have seen evolving over the past 15 years in a number of productions and performances under the term ModERIN.

The 15th season of the Darrah Carr Dance Company featuring this cleverly combined fusion begins this week at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan with five performances that will be of interest to all who appreciate dance no matter what genre strikes your fancy.

Friday, November 22 has the dual role of being opening night with a reception after the performance that will also serve as the launch of a fascinating history of the founder and company and the evolution of Irish Dance titled ModERIN: Contemporary Irish Dance Works.

There are informative and entertaining articles by J’aime Morrison, David Meyer, Siobhan Burke and Darrah Carr, and the tome is edited by Daithi O Mir. The work not only gives a greater insight into Carr’s evolutionary path, but also sheds the spotlight in verse and photos on some highlights created over the 15 year period including a Bessie nomination last year for Dingle Diwali, co-created with choreographer Sean Curran.

It is published as one of a series of books available at www.macaterpress.com devoted to Irish dance studies.

The book makes a marvelous companion for appreciating what it takes to create and maintain a dance company bordering on two divergent forms for 15 years.

It also provides great insight into Carr as an imaginative and intelligent artist who followed her vision and curiosity to persevere in one of the more demanding settings an artist can find in the Big Apple.

She has withstood the rigors and physicality of the dance world while immersing herself also in the academic side at Wesleyan and NYU as a student, and now as a professor at Hofstra University of dance and Irish studies.

Her passion and enjoyment of dance comes through in her company’s approach to their shows which are always playful and professional.

On Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. there are specially priced matinees for families. After Saturday evening’s performance at 8 p.m. there will be a talkback session with the audience with choreographers Carr and Curran, and on Sunday prior to the 3 p.m. final show there will be another opportunity for a conversation with performers.

The Friday night reception and book launch is a VIP engagement with a special toast and copy of the new book for those who purchase a $65 ticket to support the Darrah Carr Dance Company.

Tickets can be ordered at 866-811-4111 or via www.irishartscenter.org.

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