Our Steps, Our Story: An Irish Dance Legacy Archive
Every Irish dancer has a history to tell, a lineage to trace and a reason they dance the way they do.
Due to the ephemeral nature of dance and the alarming lack of documentation undertaken to date, Ireland’s solo dance steps are in critical danger of disappearing. To protect this legacy, Our Steps has begun the urgent work of recreating and recording the history on which the current global Irish dance world has been built.
Currently the Archive runs two programs: The Archive Residencies, focusing on how Irish Dance is passed from one generation to the next, and the Oral History Project, which documents the untold stories of elder practitioners. The material collected through these programs is also available in perpetuity with our partner, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library, the most prestigious and largest dance archive in the world.
Our Steps, Our Story: An Irish Dance Legacy Archive is a living archive, ongoing and perpetual. It continues to grow year on year; collecting video and aural material, recreating set dances dating as far back as the late 1940’s and recording interviews with the leading lights and forgotten voices of the world of Irish dance.
Our work has only just begun. We need your help to continue to explore and bring new life to this rich and unique cultural legacy.
A note from Linda Murray, Associate Director, Collections & Research & Curator, Jerome Robbins Dance Division
A longstanding issue with dance archiving has been the ephemeral nature of the form. Unless one intervenes and actively documents, often no trace survives. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division understood this early on and since the 1960s has been filming public performances throughout New York City and nationally in an attempt to preserve the field. However, this activity does not enable a community to work together to remember and reconstruct a dance. Dance archival practice is becoming more sensitive to this issue, working to find new ways to document dance beyond recording performances. By providing a studio space for multiple generations of dancers to convene and by filming the process, the Dance Division hopes to create a new road map for enabling and sustaining dance memory.
Siobhan Burke Writer in Residence and Oral History Collector
Kristyn Fontanella Project Manager and Oral History Collector
Cori Olinghouse Archivist and Curator, Oral History Project Planner
Megan Stahl Director of Photography 2019, Second Camera Assistant 2018
On behalf of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Francois Bernadi Director of Photography 2018
Sean Conaboy Second Camera 2018
Cassie Mey Oral History Producer
Daisy Pommer Librarian and Original Documentations Producer
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