My last post alluded to my view that craic – fun, humour and general horsing around – is a treasured part of Irish culture, and has been an important part of my life and dance experience in Ireland.
Amuse yourselves with examples of a few well-known Irish people – Niall Tobin and The Builders, Maeve Binchy and her famous Veal Casserole, Dillie Keane and the Fascinating Aida troupe doing Cheap Flights – to name but a few.
As for Irish dancing, my very first recollection of seeing gorgeous solo step dancing was an impromptu performance after a Donegal 1989 workshop, when the dancer in question kicked her leg high and her shoe went flying off into an amused audience. “Feck” she muttered, and kept going. More of this in the very award-winning small film “Why The Irish Dance That Way”– completely taking the p*#%, and doing it really well.
Anyone who has been along to a Timmy “The Brit” McCarthy and Irish set dancing workshop in Ireland know he is famous for his humour – jokes, story telling and comical musical playing – as part of the learning experience. Sometimes its was even difficult to know what set dance was being taught because the laughing was so loud as to drown out the set.
Ditto many other teachers including one of best known, Connie Ryan (RIP) and his dance partner Betty McCoy, who had a huge dance following in Ireland in the 1980s- 1990s. He was well-known for his witty repartee, not always the most politically correct, but kept people in stitches. Most importantly, he kept them coming back to more classes and workshops and thus reviving the set dancing tradition and keeping it alive.
My concern generally in Irish dancing is how terribly serious it has all become and, mostly in the wrong areas, from what I can see. And how trying to have a little fun sometimes means not being part of the conversation at all.
I recently joined an online dance forum, and saw this question posted in the Adult Dancer section:
How does your teacher feel about adults wearing solo dresses?
MY REPLY: “Can you get two adult dancers in the one dress?”
THEIR REPLY “Removed this comment as it is OFF-TOPIC. Yeah I got the “joke”. While you were amused with yourself the original poster would like the thread to stay on topic. It’s hardly censorship. Please read the rules of the forum and reread the terms of service you agreed to when you became a member.” Phew. That put me in my place.
So, what prompted me to think of this as a response? Connie Ryan’s famous advice to women in his class to “keep the two legs in the one stocking”.
Lighten up, folks, if you want to keep people coming and being part of a wonderful and funny tradition 🙂