|Darrah Carr Dance company members perform Cuimhne Fado. (@Brian Rossi)|
“…the New York City Irish Dance Festival provides a rare and important opportunity for dancers to gather in a non-competitive environment where they can learn from and appreciate each other’s skills”
|The Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance performs. (@Brian Rossi)|
The day was quite literally kicked off with a delightful performance by the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance. O’Leary, the festival’s Artistic Director, showcased the impressive talents of his students as they crisscrossed the stage in vibrant burgundy and gold school costumes, as well as a colorful array of solo costumes. Keeping in line with the festival’s theme of performance AND participation, O’Leary led a “Fun Dance” workshop following his students’ performance. The workshop was aptly named, as one of the festival’s main goals is to provide an enjoyable atmosphere for learning. As an astonishingly virtuosic art/sport, Irish dance ordinarily revolves around an intense competition circuit. In my opinion, the New York City Irish Dance Festival provides a rare and important opportunity for dancers to gather in a non-competitive environment where they can learn from and appreciate each other’s skills.
|Children enjoy a “Fun Dance” workshop. Credit: Brian Ross|
The next performance featured the Keltic Dreams, a multi-ethnic troupe from PS 59 in the Bronx. Led by their dedicated music teacher Caroline Duggan, the dancers gave a rousing, highly energetic demonstration complete with colorful streamers.
Renowned dancer and teacher Donny Golden presented his well-polished, highly skilled troupe the Donny Golden Dancers and also led a “Fun Dance” workshop himself. Meanwhile, the Hagen School of Irish Dance, directed by Jean Hagen Duffy, showcased the incredible virtuosity of today’s competitive Irish dancers.
|Darrah Carr Dance company members perform RhythMOTION. (@Brian Rossi)|
I was proud to present my own company, Darrah Carr Dance, featuring performers: Louise Corrigan, Brigid Gillis, Caitlin McNeill, Laura Neese, Niall O’Leary, Melissa Padham, and Mary Kate Sheehan. I was especially pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the audience to ModERIN: our unique blend of traditional Irish step and contemporary modern dance.
We opened our performance with a display of traditional Irish dance, which gave the audience a reference point for the depth and richness of the vocabulary that we draw from. Then, we performed Cuimhne Fado, a slow, lyrical quartet that combines spatial patterns from Irish figure dances with modern dance floor work and partnering.
The Irish Arts Center encourages choreographers to use live music and we were fortunate to have guest artist Liz Hanley sing a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Ag Criost An Siol” during our performance. Well-known Irish traditional musicians Steve Holloway, Conor McGuirk, and Martin O’Connell accompanied Hanley, while Niall O’Leary gave a lively display of mouth music and spoon playing. We closed our set with one of our repertory favorites entitled RhythMOTION, which features body percussion juxtaposed with lightning-fast hard shoe steps (click here to see an excerpt).