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
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.