Irish Dance and Pop Cultureby S.J. Velasquez
- 'Heartbeat of Home' online auditions prompt influx of amazing dancer videos - VIDEOS
- The top 12 Irish dance videos of 2012 - VIDEOS
- Post-show interview with TLC's 'Big Jig' star Mary Kay Heneghan - VIDEOS
- Sean-nós dance revival reveals different side of Irish dance - VIDEOS
- Irish dance friendships: - down under meets upstate NY
Open auditions for "Heartbeat of Home" -- the dance fusion show produced by the creators of "Riverdance" -- began Monday, and the competition is as fierce as it is diverse.
Judges responsible for casting the new show will be watching video auditions uploaded to YouTube by dancers of various genres, including Irish, flamenco, Latin and street dancing. So far, Irish dancer videos outweigh dancers of other forms in the competition.
Last year's most popular Irish dance videos were innovative and surprising, and just when we thought Irish dance couldn't get that much more exciting, 2012 packed a wallop with dubstep-inspired step dancing, "Got to Dance" champs and One Direction treble reels.
Based solely on pageviews attributed to individual Irish dancing videos uploaded to YouTube in the last year, these are the top 12 Irish dance videos of 2012:
, and stay tuned here on IrishCentral's Irish Dance page for updates, photos and results.
Irish dance spectacular "Take the Floor" will debut in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug. 15 -- that's just over two months away -- but the cast isn't complete, rehearsals haven't begun and choreography is still a mystery.
Don't worry -- everything is going according to plan!
That's the whole point, said show directors Paula Goulding and Shane McAvinchey. This isn't your average dance show. It's more like an intense Irish dance workshop, MTV's "Making the Band" and Riverdance all rolled up into one unbelievable experience.
YouTube page, and you'll soon see what I mean.
Rihanna, Usher, Swizz Beatz, Calvin Harris, Antoine Dodson -- those aren't names often referenced around the trad music scene, but they are definitely artists and popular culture icons who have influenced Mangan, a 27-year-old Brooklyn native.
Hate to admit it, but Irish dancers are inevitably bored by the same traditional dance tunes, and it turns out feis musicians are, too.
Anthony Davis and Liam O'Sullivan -- better known as musical duo Anton & Sully -- provide the perfect antidote to musical monotony. Known for jazzing up slip jigs and infusing whimsical romance into heavy jigs, the two musicians aim to create a sound that gets step dancers pumped up and performing energetically -- oh, and it's fun for them, too!
Anton & Sully released two popular Irish dance CDs, "The Feis Album" and "The Feis Album, Volume II," along with side project "The Bootleg," an album they recorded with fellow musician Steve Byrnes (together, they form trad group Kayna). The duo also plays at major dance competitions, so they know exactly what gets a dancer jumping high and feeling the beat, and they also understand what uplifts the audience.
Guess we'll just have to wait and see. Can't wait!
The creative minds behind last year's viral St. Patrick's Day flashmob video hope "The Ellen Show" host Ellen Degeneres will take notice of their most recent stealth Irish dance clip on YouTube.
The elite Irish dancers of the Sneaky Steppers have accepted Degeneres' "dance dare," and they hope their video will make it on the show's segment dedicated to dance-bombing unsuspecting people.
"We're just all going to take a bit each, and then just growing Prodijig," the dance crew's leader and choreographer Alan Kenefick said of the £250,000 prize in a post-show Sky1 interview.
“For some reason, the All Irelands are particularly fun” when it comes to fashion, Nyland said during a phone chat earlier this week. “You have a combination of some [dancers] showing up in Uggs, and then you have teachers dressed to the nines.”
And she’s just referencing the off-stage apparel. On stage, dancers put their best, glitziest, perfectly pointed feet forward. So, what exactly can we expect to see being warn by top-of-the-podium placers? Here’s what the Feisonista herself has to say:
Jean Butler may have put her ghillies to rest in 2010, but the Riverdance lead lady's mark on the Irish dance world won't be fading any time soon.
On Jan. 7, Butler allowed a small audience at Douglas Dunn studio in Manhattan a peek at her recent dance project, "Hurry the Jug," named for the Irish set dance she performed as a child. And while the traditional tune is the stem of her inspiration, the movements she displayed in her acappella performance of the work-in-progress were a far cry from the rigid motions synonymous with step dancing.
I've compiled a list of the top Irish dance videos of the year according to YouTube statistics. Watch them all below, and have a very happy new year!
Each year, the same complaint about girls' and womens' Halloween costume options resurfaces: those tight-fitting, barely-there outfits are just too sexy.
Unfortunately, it's not just the "naughty cop" and "flirty fairy" costumes that are turning heads. Even the image of the Irish lass -- a traditional Irish dancer, in many cases -- is subject to hyper-sexualization. This year, it seems like more online Halloween outfitters are offering inaccurate interpretations of Irish dance gear.
Are these costumes examples of cultural confusion or intentionally tasteless fetishization of Irish step dancers?
Watching Noctu was a little bit like watching bits of my life performed on stage. Talking to the show's creator-choreographer Breandan de Gallai after Saturday's evening show, I learned that was exactly the desired reaction.
Noctu, which just wrapped up a short run at Manhattan's Irish Repertory Theatre on Sunday, is what de Gallai called the autobiography of an Irish dancer. Through the eyes of three disenfranchised characters, de Gallai unveils the conflicts within every dancer, including feelings of inadequacy and simply being misunderstood, in stark contrast to joy and camaraderie.
While it surprised me that de Gallai, a legend in the Irish dance world, might've ever felt inadequate in his dancing ability, he explained that these emotions are in every dancer -- from beginners to world-class champions. De Gallai, who himself ranks among the world's most esteemed step dancers, said assuredly, "Everybody has those feelings -- the times when no matter what you do, you just feel awful."
After a whirlwind year of press tours, dancing on nationally televised talent shows and appearing in a McDonald's commercial, the team from Up & Over It has delivered to the Web world another cheeky YouTube video that marks an end to the hand-dance era.
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.
Reel Swing, choreographed and directed by Dervla McGee, is a throwback to America in the 1950s, told through the lens of the Irish immigrants who brought with them to the states a love of lively music and rhythmic dance, and a willingness to embrace cultural fusion in a new country.
The choice to highlight the swing era was easy for McGee, whose grandfather was a diehard Rat Pack fan. She was intrigued by the "looseness" of swing music, paired with the rigid movement in Irish dance. But Reel Swing, she said, "celebrates and showcases both traditions in their own right as well as creating a unique fusion of both genres."
Ambush Irish dancers the Sneaky Steppers are back to their stealth ways with a brand new YouTube video -- a Banksy tribute video that packs a double dose of street art.
Banksy, the notorious graffiti artist who's known for using stencils and spray paint to create satirical artwork, has been an inspiration for the men of the Sneaky Steppers, so it was only a matter of time before they'd use Banksy's works as the backdrop for a video.
"His guerilla-style street art and enigmatic presence have been some of the main forces behind the ideas we have had with Sneaky Steppers and Hammerstep," said Sneaky Steppers co-founder Jason Oremus. "Banksy ambushes the public through art. We are trying to do that through dance, so it seemed fitting that we give him a shout-out. Banksy, if you're reading this, we're coming for you."
The Feis at the Falls, held Saturday in the historic Old Falls section of Niagara Falls, NY, has rapidly become a go-to feis for newbie dancers and elite-level champs alike. An all-star lineup of judges and musicians, friendly volunteers and a comfortable venue contributed to an overall jovial group of feis-goers of all ages and levels.
This year, the feis hosted the George Sweetnam Memorial Trophy, the ultra prestigious annual competition open to dancers younger than 13 who've placed first in the open championship level in the last calendar year. The worthy winner of "the belt" was Petri dancer Melanie Valdes. Her articulate toes must've mesmerized the panel of five judges -- I was personally impressed by the precision of her footwork and the complicated syncopated rhythms being battered out by her small frame during her set round.
"The belt" attracted plenty of top-tier dancers from across North America -- that's for sure -- but the feis also drew a brand new crew of Irish dancers. "First-time feisers" took to the stage early in the competition day for a feis debut of sorts. Nine adorable -- and extraordinarily talented! -- little tykes skipped and hopped two steps of the reel with a little help from Rince na Tiara's Mary Kay Heneghan, ADCRG. After winning over the hearts of just about everyone in the audience, the tiny dancers each received a special medal and a complementary mini-subscription to Feis America Magazine.
Part of the allure of Irish dance is the strong sense of cultural tradition -- the idea that our sets and ceili dances have been passed on for generations, and we dance to the same tunes as our ancestors. But, man, those tunes get a little tired after a while. With that said, we like to liven things up on occasion with fresh, fun, lively music. And for that, many Irish dancers turn to the musical stylings of Beoga!
Beoga -- gaelic for “lively” -- is a favorite band among Irish dancers because its members have a knack for meshing traditional jigs, reels, hornpipes and slip jigs with modern influences. This week, dancers and trad music fans alike rejoice: the band’s brand new album “How to Tune a Fish” was released worldwide and is available for purchase online, and it’s sure to get toes tapping, hands clapping and -- dare I say -- hips swaying?
“One of the tracks has sort of a hip hop beat, believe it or not,” multi-instrumentalist Seán Óg Graham said of the last song on the album.
A few years ago, the Irish dance scene was buzzing over a proposed hosiery mandate that would force ladies aged 18 and older to wear black tights in competition, banning adult ladies from feising in the standard white poodle sock. The call to prohibit the popular mid-calf white quilted socks among mature dancers was dismissed, but the discussion opened up a whole can of worms regarding dancers’ footwear.
When it comes down to it, there is no standard sock rule in the An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha list of regulations. The only related entry deals with the density of tights worn by dancers. It states:
“Where tights are worn, they must be of a denier of not less than 70.”