Heartbeat of Home

20 Oct

When I received the email asking if I wanted to attend the Irish River Dance Show, I was both excited and a little nervous. I didn’t quite know what to expect. The only thing I really knew about the River Dance was that the dancers put on shoes much like tap shoes, and dance very fast. Seeing as though my knowledge was so limited, I decided to go and research some more information before attending the show.

Irish River Dance is a theatrical show that incorporates Irish Stepdance. What many people do not know is that River Dance is not the same thing as Irish stepdance. The stepdance is the actual traditional dance of the Irish people. It dates back to the Pre Christian period and is preformed in troupes or alone. It has intricate foot work, and takes a lot of skill to preform. Irish dance has always been a part of Irish culture, but it became much more popular in 1994, when it was in the Eurovision Song Contest. Although Irish dance is unique to Ireland, it is also very much linked to other dances of continents around it. The reason why its popularity had grown so much was because in the 19th century, the Irish diaspora had spread Irish dance all over the world. One of the places that it had come to was North America. This would naturally happen because of the amount of people immigrated to the United States. Also, because of the huge influx of immigrants in America, schools started to be created where dance was taught. One of the biggest places where this happened in the United States was on the East Coast, and also in Chicago. The very first class in stepdancing was held by the Philadelphia-born John McNamara. Because of this huge influence, many Americans either participate in Irish Dance, or vey much enjoy watching it. 

On a more personal note, I really enjoyed the performance. I found it to be vibrant and beautiful. I loved how all the people in the audience were so excited to watch the show and be brought back to their roots. Also, this very much linked me back to being home. I know many Irish American people, and they really do keep their roots very close to them in their daily lives. Watching the river dance gave me a further appreciation for understand your own country and where you come from.  Also, I thought it was very interesting how the dancers incorporated Irish Dance with modern dance. They made something that is very traditional interesting for a wide age around and for a broader audience. It shows how even though I am hundreds of miles away from home, the people around me still appreciate where I come from, and I am able to understand the people around me better.

-Leila Zuaiter

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