Our archive residencies create a new space for Irish dance, Irish dancers, dance scholars and enthusiasts; a space committed to the spirit of sharing, discovering and conversing.
Created as a series of documented workshops, the archive residencies see today’s competitive Irish dancers learn steps dating as far back as 1940. Each residency is a dialogue through memory and time — taught by elder master teachers and former students of eminent teachers and style influencers. The generational exchange highlights the uniqueness of how Irish dance is taught, learnt, and imprinted in the body; it captures the idiosyncratic stylistic variations that once defined regional, national and international styles of Irish step dance.
Our Steps innovative approach to documentation is about so much more more than creating a catalogue of perfectly executed steps. We film every moment of the exchange possible, in the round, from the seemingly mundane to the transcendent; the putting on of shoes, the idiosyncratic way Irish dancers communicate with and without words, the intricacies of the body moving in space, one generation next to another. By documenting the steps and celebrating the exchange that happens when those steps are remembered, recreated and shared, we create a portal to an entire culture.
‘It’s just so different’ is the phrase heard most often during our archive residencies. In second place is: “Can you do that again, please?”
Irish dance steps live in the bodies of those who dance them; watching older generations of dancers recall steps they didn’t even know they remembered is watching memory in action. Often music is the trigger for remembering. But as the music for each dance is deeply imprinted in the dancers, simply starting a step by physically dancing the first few bars can lead to finishing it.
Piece by piece the steps are remembered and assembled; a palpable sense of wonderment is present. Younger dancers watch, learn and identify simpler versions of a more complex move they dance now. The process reveals the foundation of the form and younger dancers can see and experience how their own dancing came into being.
Anna May Fitch
Bianca Paige Smith
Laura Van Horn
Mary Lou Schade
Siobhan Gorman Coen
Theresa Wall McElhill
Xavier P Dzielski
Ai Lin Doody
Joan McNiff Cass