In her travels as a musician, Caroline O’Shea, Office Administrator of the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton, has seen “a resurgence in people’s interest in the steps and style of traditional sean-nós dancing.” In response to this, the ICC has invited Kieran Jordan, a premiere Irish dancer and instructor, to lead a sean-nós workshop for Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced students. On Saturday January 19 Kieran’s Beginner class will run from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. followed by an Intermediate/Advanced class from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the ICC. Each class is $20 per person. Registration is required online or by calling the ICC. Please wear a supportive shoe with a smooth, hard sole for class. As Kieran stresses: “No chunky sneakers, sandals, or sling back shoes! No flip flops!”
Kieran is excited to lead the workshop at the Centre. Based on her recent experiences, she knows “there are many folks who are keen to learn sean-nós dance. It's great to see more traditional dance and music programming happening at the ICC. I'm glad to be part of that. I think folks in New England should think of the ICC as ‘our’ center for Irish culture. We should be taking the opportunity to use the wonderful ICC resources to share our interests and talents.”
Kieran has been teaching sean-nós dance workshops and classes for almost 10 years, and has developed her own methods to break down steps and convey the style. She loves “watching how every body moves differently, and interprets the steps and the music in his or her personal way. The improv aspect of sean-nós really allows individual personalities to shine through. I get to appreciate all these things as a teacher.”
Kieran began Irish step dancing when she was five years old, after her family went to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Philadelphia. After seeing young dancers in that parade, she begged her parents for lessons. Her dad listened to Irish music at home, and his Irish heritage was a big part of her family identity. From an early age, Irish dance, music, and culture were huge aspects of her family life; her mother, in particular, devoted a lot of time and energy to support Kieran’s and her sister’s Irish dance activities.
As an Irish step dancer, Kieran says “I always enjoyed performance opportunities more than competition.” People wondering if they will feel at home at the ICC workshop will be relieved to know that Kieran felt that she “never fit the mold as a competitive dancer; even my body type never looked right in the costume!” In her later teen years, although she still trained and competed in step dancing, she took classes in tap and jazz, and workshops in Cape Breton step dance and other forms of percussive and modern dance.
When Kieran first saw sean-nós dance, it reminded her of informal percussive "battering" she had seen as a young child in Philadelphia. The rhythms related to what she knew from Irish step dancing, but the freedom in the body and the spontaneous, playful approach “called out to my creativity and my intense love of Irish music.” Kieran admits that her favorite spot for sean-nós dancing is “the kitchen, pretty much any kitchen.” She looks forward to conveying that during her workshops at the ICC this month. For Kieran, “dance has been a very healing presence in my life, and a source wholeness, and great joy. It means the world when someone tells me that my classes or performances convey this joy.”
Folks attending either workshop will see that Kieran teaches her sean-nós dance classes in a circle, rather than the traditional "dance class" format of facing front. She likes to teach with live music, so, as Kieran describes, “the musician is part of the circle too. This creates a feeling of togetherness, and we all influence each other.” Kieran notes the unique characteristic of sean-nós dance instruction as being one where “you are encouraged to develop your own ‘signature step’ and style while at the same time embracing the legacy of the dance by knowing the origin of each step, knowing who made it popular or who invented it, and honoring origin by maintaining certain steps without too much embellishment.”
To register for Kieran Jordan’s Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced Sean-nós Workshops at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 2p.m. and 3:30p.m. please visit www.irishculture.org
or call 781-821-8291. Registration is required and the fee is $20 per person for each workshop.