Denison Performance Features Irish Country-House Dancing
Date of Event: November 1, 2003
Posted: October 27, 2003
Irish Country-House dancing will be featured in an upcoming concert at Denison University. Students who have been studying Irish dance this semester will perform a repertory consisting of solo step-dancing, quadrilles, half sets and couples dancing in both hard and soft shoes. The concert is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 1 & 2) in Doane Dance. "Round the House and Mind the Dresser" is under the direction of Muireann Ni Chiara, a Tipperary, Ireland, native who is teaching World Dance at Denison this semester. Ticket reservations may be made by calling 740-587-6712. Prices are $5 general admission and $2 for students and senior citizens.
The performance reflects the dances of Ireland from the period of 1870 to about 1940, the classic period of Irish Country-House dancing. Once the dances of the elite society and the exclusive property of the English, Anglo-Irish and Irish nobility and gentry, over time the dances filtered down to the rural working population through the dance masters and the house servants of the estate homes. In doing so, they took on a distinctly Irish quality. What was once a slow, stately quadrille was now performed with great gusto and stepping.
The country-house dances soon bore little similarity to their parent forms and brought the unwanted attention of both the Gaelic League and the local parish priests. The Gaelic League, set up in the 1890s to preserve Irish traditions and customs, set about abolishing the country-house repertoire, which it labeled as crude and British. The Public Dance Halls Act of 1935 (requiring a license to hold a public dance) replaced the country-house dancing with "respectable," choreographed dances in public halls. These choreographed dances won the approval of the clergy, who often saw dancing as sinful. The dance halls were monitored by both the "Grada Siochana" (police) and the clergy.
Ni Chiara earned both bachelor of arts and bachelor of music degrees, and a master's degree in education from the University College Cork. She also holds a master's degree in Irish dance from the University of Limerick, Ireland. She started dancing at the age of three and has studied with Celine Penny, Peggy McTeggart and Mairin Tuthaigh. Competing in numerous All-Ireland and Irish Dance World Championships, Ni Chiara was a member of the Irish dance troupe Planxty O'Rourke, which performed throughout Europe. She holds a teaching certificate from An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha, the international governing body of Irish dance. She first came to America as a guest artist and to teach world dance at Denison in 1999.
Performing in the concert will be Denison students Jill Kirk, Jess Haberman, Erin Davidson, Karen Siklosi, Katie Jacobsen, Elizabeth Fink, Brittany Bradley, Leah Lombardo, Jennifer Guglielmi, Lisa Rhoden and Melanie Cluss.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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