Dillon Moore Academy Dance Drama
Photo: Dillon Moore Academy

North American Irish Dancing Championships 2012 Dance Drama Reviews - Part 2

The second Irish dance drama performance on stage at the 2012 North American Irish Dance Championships was the Dillon Moore Academy of Irish Dance from the San Francisco area of California.  

I was totally enthralled with this performance from the beginning.  The Dillon Moore Academy of Irish Dance had recreated some of the famous works of art housed at the National Gallery of Ireland. The frames had painted backdrops of the five works of art chosen for this Dance Drama.  The Irish dancers, dressed as the characters of each piece were posed inside of the frames just as still and thought-provokingly beautiful as if they were the original subjects held for all-time in the permanent world of paint that the artist had created.   It was a bit surreal, and I truly wish my camera could have gotten a good photo of the props and costumes.  
"The drama is based on five paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland as follows - 'Lady Lavery' (which appeared on the Irish pound note),' The Potato Pickers', 'The Meeting on the Turret Stairs', 'A Convent Garden' and 'Molly McCree',  Also, we took the artistic liberty of using the statue of James Joyce which actually stands on the corner of O'Connell Street and Talbot Street in Dublin. 
The kids got so into the piece, that the ones dancing at the Worlds in Dublin last year visited the Gallery to see the paintings.  Unfortunately, the painting were in storage as they were building a new exhibition.  When one family asked about them the curator took them to the vault, opened the safe and took out 'The Meeting on the Turret Stairs' which is light-sensitive and left them alone with the painting.  A really special moment for Kestra Rizza who is the magical guard in the piece.  Only in Ireland!!!! 
When we suggested facial hair, the girls were none-too-happy but now it is seen as a badge of honor and they love their facial hair.
Our drama has proven to be fun and educational to the kids and that is the reason we take them on,  We pride ourselves at the Dillon Moore Academy in placing Irish dance in its cultural context and this drama has helped us to do that in many ways, from literature, to art, to many set dance tunes and we even included a 'fling' which my Grandmother danced before I was born and was passed down to me by my Mother. I have only ever seen a fling danced in East Clare, although I would like to hear if anyone else has seen it in other parts of Ireland.  It is danced to the tune 'Some Say the Devil is Dead' and unfortunately has more or less died-out in Clare from what I can see, as I have not seen it danced in over twenty years.  I hope we have kept it alive in California at least.
By the way our potato we threw into the crowd, was returned.  How nice are people in Irish dancing?!
We are taking the drama to Boston at Easter [for the 2013 World Irish Dancing Championships] and I hope people will come along and cheer us on."
          ~ Michael Dillon, ADCRG and Sheila Moore Thurston,TCRG

As the Dance Drama unfolds, Mrs. McCormack and her three daughters go to the art gallery and meet up with another mother, Mrs. O'Dell, and her daughters.  The mothers are distracted when they see a Starbucks - this part was truly comical! - and off they go, leaving the girls alone with the art, a janitor and a magical security guard. As soon as the mothers were out of the scene and enjoying their coffee, the famous artwork and statue of James Joyce come to life.  The scenes in the paintings are all acted out beautifully.  The costumes were true-to-character and well-thought-out.

The mothers danced back into the scene with breath-takingly high, paired leaps, and one of them tripped over an errant potato from "The Potato Pickers".  I really thought for a moment that she truly fell, but it was all a part of the performance.  Kudos to the Irish dancer who played this mum for making me wonder for a split-second about a possible injury only to end up laughing as she bent down, picked up the potato, and threw it into the laughing audience.

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I loved this Irish Dance Drama!  The Dillon Moore Academy of Irish Dance focused on the famous art of Ireland.  Being set in the National Gallery of Ireland, the attention to detail in the frames, backdrops, and costumes of the living paintings, and the artistic license in bringing in the statue of famed Irish novelist and poet James Joyce all made for a unique tale slightly akin to the movie "Night at the Museum".  I especially loved the distracting of the mothers with the Starbucks sign; I wish I could convey in words how humorous that moment was with the lit-up Starbucks sign enticing the mothers off the stage.

Thank you to all the Dillon Moore Academy of Irish Dance Irish Dance Drama dancers and teachers. I am so very grateful that I got to watch and review and enjoy these fabulous performances!  Did you get to see them?  Were you a part of any of the performances?  Comment below and share your enthusiasm for Irish Dance Drama.

Look on the Moms to Reel Boys blog here on IrishCentral for further installments in the 2012 North American Irish Dance Championships Dance Drama Review

Full results are available here.  Check back here on IrishCentral's Irish dance page for more North American Irish Dancing Championship recaps, photos, interviews and results!