Folk Dance News

Ireland’s Tap Dancing: A Cultural Export to the World Championship in Dubai

The art of Irish dance, particularly its famous tap dancing, is deeply ingrained in the heritage and history of Ireland. This discipline, which has captured the hearts of many in Brittany, is now set to make its mark at the world championships in Dubai at the end of November.

In the global imagination, whether French or otherwise, certain stereotypes often accompany the mention of Ireland: the lush greenery, the warm-heartedness of its people, traditional music, the iconic “Zombie” by The Cranberries, the golden locks and rugby exploits of Brian O’Driscoll, or unique sports like Gaelic football. But let’s pause there to note that Ireland has also exported something other than its renowned stout to the international stage: Irish dancing. This art form has not only charmed Brittany, a region with its own Celtic roots, but has also led to its representation in the qualifications for the world championships of Irish dance at the end of November.

Brittany’s Leap to World Championships?

Beyond the clichés, Ireland is a land with a rich, ancient, and at times troubled history, from the Great Famine of the mid-19th century to ongoing conflicts with England. Irish dance, with its six distinct styles, represents a lighter part of this heritage. Originating from a blend of druid dances, Celtic festivals, and Norman dance circles, Irish dancing has evolved significantly over the centuries. Today, it enjoys global popularity thanks to the Irish diaspora and successful festivals and shows like Riverdance. Brittany, sharing this Gaelic heritage, naturally embraced Irish dance, leading to the formation of numerous traditional dance groups and associations named after Ireland.

Maëlyss Gérot, an 18-year-old from Brittany passionate about Irish tap dancing, shares her love for the dance’s cultural background, including its music and the ambiance of Irish pubs. She participates in competitions and performances, showcasing the versatility of Irish dance in various settings, from nursing homes to schools and bars.

From Brittany to Dubai: A Dancer’s Journey

Irish dance, with its rich history and cultural significance, has found its way into the hearts of many around the world, transcending its Irish origins. The dance’s appeal lies in its complexity, technical demands, and physicality. Maëlyss Gérot, dividing her time between Moëlan-sur-Mer in Brittany and Nantes, is a testament to the dedication required to excel in this art form. She emphasizes the discipline and hard work involved, particularly in maintaining the correct posture and footwork.

The various facets of Irish dance, from step dancing to ceili dancing and the global phenomenon of Riverdance, demonstrate the diversity and appeal of this art form. Irish tap dancing, in particular, has become a significant sub-genre, captivating dancers with its unique wooden-soled shoes.

As the world championships approach at the end of November, a little piece of Ireland, France, and history will come alive in the United Arab Emirates, showcasing the unique allure of Irish tap dancing. Between Brittany and Dubai, sometimes all it takes is a step (or tap).

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