Going back : contemporary Irish dance choreographers and modern Irish identity

Holt, Kathryn Marie
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
Irish step dance has for many years centered on Irish nationalism, and an attempt to preserve Irish tradition and identity. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, dancers who have been trained in the competitive Irish dance tradition have begun to experiment outside of the highly structured confines of this style of Irish dance. Particularly since the premiere of Riverdance in 1994, there has been increasing interest in exploring the use of Irish dance outside of the traditional structure. This thesis looks at the work of two such choreographers--New York-based choreographer Darrah Carr and Limerick-based choreographer Colin Dunne-who are actively creating contemporary Irish dance pieces utilizing both Irish dance and contemporary dance vocabulary and choreographic structures. I analyze choreographic works and teaching practices of both choreographers. I also take a practice-as-research approach to this area of inquiry, including an analysis of my own past works of Irish contemporary choreography, as well as a dance film produced specifically as part of my thesis research and the work that I created for my UH Late Night dance concert, Identity Crisis, in Fall 2013. This thesis argues that the work of Carr and Dunne, as well as my own, reflects the changing nature of postcolonial Ireland and the Irish diaspora, and aims to represent the multi-faceted, hyphenated identities of the choreographers as modern Irish dancers by combining the traditional with the contemporary.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Nationalism, Irish identity, diaspora, authenticity
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