By Catherine E. Foley

For plenty of humans step dance is linked more often than not with the Irish step-dance degree exhibit, Riverdance, which assisted in either selling the dance shape and in putting eire globally. however the perform and contexts of step dance are even more complex and fluid than this. Catherine Foley tells the tale of this dance from its roots in eighteenth-century eire to its sleek globalized attraction. targeting North Kerry at the south-west coast of eire, she examines 3 step-dance practices: the agricultural Molyneaux step-dance perform, representing the top of a comparatively lengthy approach of training by way of itinerant dancing masters within the quarter; , the urbanized, staged, competition-orientated perform, cultivated by way of the cultural nationalist move, the Gaelic League, from the top of the 19th century, and practised at the present time either in and out of eire; and 3, the stylized, commodified, theatrical perform of Siamsa Tire, the nationwide folks Theatre of eire, validated in North Kerry within the Nineteen Seventies. The booklet offers a wealthy ancient and ethnographic account of step dancing, step dancers, and cultural associations in eire.

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Extra info for Step Dancing in Ireland: Culture and History

Sample text

I knew that this repertoire would be familiar to some of those present. My decision to dance these Treble Reels was precisely because I was in North Kerry. Although I had performed this material before, it was especially poignant performing it here in North Kerry. I wait for the customary eight-bar introduction from the musicians and prepare myself psychologically and physically for the performance. I think of my training: upright torso, arms by my sides, my gaze directed straight ahead, and I also think of my father and Inchinaugh, his foot tapping to the music as he played, and the intimacy and support of those warm and informal occasions.

55 Rice (1997), p. 114. 52 an ethnochoreologist in ‘the kingdom’ of kerry 17 between subject and object, between me and the Molyneaux step dancers of North Kerry. Rice further states: When, as in ethnomusicological research, a new world of music is encountered, new understanding results when the horizons of the researcher’s world are expanded to include at least part of the world that the new music symbolically references. From this perspective, the researcher seeks to understand not so much the inner experience of people from another culture, but rather the world suggested by music sounds, performances and contexts.

I wondered about the dance practice and the evening I had just witnessed. I wondered about Jeremiah Molyneaux, the itinerant dancing master, and the history and culture out of which he had choreographed these step dances. What was his role within this rural community? Where did his dance training come from? I knew that step dance had been taught by dancing masters, but what was its history here, in North Kerry? And what was its connection, if any, with the European dancing masters? Jeremiah Molyneaux, or Jerry Munnix as he was referred to locally, was part of a broad cultural historical narrative.

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