The world of Irish dance has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, from Riverdance and Michael Flatley to contemporary jobs like Prodijig and the Fusion Fighters, there’s plenty going on in the field and hundreds of new influencers popping up on social media.
The Irish dance community is a strong, busy and energetic driven force and just a quick look at their top social media illustrates this. From World Champion dancers to Irish innovators, former Riverdance stars and even Australian children’s TV stars, Irish dance is filled with exciting young social media influencers with a strong following.
Here is IrishCentral’s top choice for Irish dance influencers to follow in 2017:
World Champion Irish dancer Sexton has toured with Riverdance and the Heartbeat of Home is now teaching her trade in New York.
Sexton started dancing before she was three with Marion Turley, in the West Midlands, England. During her 18-year competitive career she won titles including five World and All-Ireland Championship titles. She then went on to the professional world of Irish dance and toured with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, Excalibur: A Celtic Rock Opera and played an instrumental part in the show, Heartbeat of Home. She is also a choreographer and TV presenter as well as a teacher.
Emma Watkins is best known as the first female member of the children's group The Wiggles. Born in Sydney, in Australia, the actress and singer fell in love with Irish dance watching Riverdance as a child by the time she was in her teens she was teaching dance and exploring her talents in jazz, hip hop, tap and contemporary dance.
Having studied musical theater when went on to earn a masters degree in Media Arts in Communication at the University of Technology in Sydney. In 2010 she was began performing with the child’s entertainment phenomenon, The Wiggles, and in 2012 she became part of the group. She also has her own TV show called Emma! on ABC in Australia.
You can follow the international star on Facebook, on Twitter @Emma_Wiggle, or via Instagram @Emma_Wiggle.
Read more: Galway Girl Irish dancers smash their Ed Sheeran audition tape
Now just 18-years-old Luebbers fast moving feet are already a household name. The Philadelphia teen shot to fame after auditioning for America’s Got Talent. His Irish dance audition was so good he even got a hat-tip from a few celebrities such as Britney Spears.
Luebbers has been dancing since he was four years old and is currently the second in the world in the 15-to-16-year-old category for boys. He also holds the Mid-Atlantic Region Irish dancing champion title.
What has already given this very young dancer the edge is his style. His videos of performances of Irish dance to pop hits went viral. On Vine he used his powers for good and helped spread awareness for childhood cancer his clips garnered a total of 18 million loops.
This teen is sure to be a leading light in Irish dance for many years to come!
Fusion Fighters / Chris Naish
This talented dance company, Fusion Fighters, with Chris Naish as its Artistic Director, is creating some seriously modern Irish dance with a mix of dance forms, different music styles, and technology.
The group was established out of Dublin and London and on St. Patrick’s Day 2013 they launched their imitative in Trafalgar Square with an interactive performance to over 15,000 people. Over the years their performances and videos have been ones to watch and have certainly grabbed the public’s attention on social media. Currently the group have big plans for a week long Irish dance festival held in Limerick…watch this space.
Read more: Fusion Fighters wow in new Irish dance video
Julia O’Rourke sprung to fame after the 2011 Irish dance documentary Jig. This Irish dancing queen of Filipino and Irish descent who grew up in Long Island is currently being referred to the “it” girl of Irish dance.
O’Rourke became a sensation on the Irish dance scene having won two World Championships by the age of 15. She is also a multiple-time Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas and North American National Champion.
Now just 17 years old O’Rourke recently told NPR that she hopes she can change the stereotypes attached to Irish dance. She said “[Ethnicity] really doesn't matter anymore. It's how you dance…It's all about the dancing."
You can follow O’Rourke on Instagram @JuliaORourke.