Traditional and Modern: Irish Dance in Contemporary Ireland
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I have been a dancer for many years and Irish dance has always been one of my favorite dance forms. With my Richter fellowship, I spent seven weeks in Ireland this summer researching Irish dance. My goals were to investigate the development of the dance form, gauge the current status of Irish dance in Ireland, and explore what traditional elements of Irish dance are being preserved. In order to study this I attended a wide variety of Irish dance events ranging from casual country dances to Broadway-caliber shows like Riverdance. I also had the opportunity to attend the Dance Research Forum of Ireland in Tralee where I was able to hear lectures from the world?s foremost scholars on Irish dance. Through my research I gained a very clear understanding of the history of Irish dance and I concluded that the dance has developed as an art form in way that parallels the development of Ireland as a country. That is to say, it is drastically different today than it was one hundred years ago, but the traditions of yesteryear have not and will not be forgotten. Ireland used to be a country of poverty and today it is the leading economy in Europe, in the same way, Irish dance was once a peasant?s entertainment, but it is now a highly developed and globally recognized art form. Irish dance has changed, but its traditions are not being lost, just adapted to fit the modern country that Ireland has become.