American Women In Sean-nós Dance

Playful, rhythmic, inventive, musical and expressive, Sean-nós dance is a solo percussive dance form originating from Ireland. Sean-nós means ”old-style“ in the Irish language. Historically performed in informal settings by male dancers, the “old style” is looser and more improvisational than the newer Irish step dance styles that have prevailed since the early 1900s. In the 20th Century, sean-nós dance experienced a serious decline, and the art form nearly disappeared. But in recent years, a handful of influential dancers have brought the steps and traditions back to life, and now, sean-nós dance is flourishing. A sean-nós dance revival is sweeping Ireland and spreading to American dance communities as well.

Many viewers of sean-nós dance comment, “That’s the way my grandfather used to dance.” This once male-dominated style is now seeing a surge in women’s participation — as students, teachers, scholars, and performers. Shannon Dunne (Washington, D.C.), Alicia Guinn (Seattle, WA), Kieran Jordan (Boston, MA) and Maldon Meehan (Portland, OR) are four American women who are actively building sean-nós dance communities in their respective regions of the country. These four women will join the 2007 Icons Festival to explore and present the fascinating trends and techniques of Irish sean-nós dance.

“American Women In Sean-nós Dance,” produced by Kieran Jordan, will feature workshops, panel discussions, demonstrations, and performances in sean-nós dance. The event will take place in or adjacent to the Irish cottage, an actual Irish cottage built on the grounds of the Irish Cultural Centre of New England. Live music will be provided by Tina Lech, Shannon Heaton, and other Irish musical greats. There will be informal dance performances by a few special guests, plus step dancers from the audience will have opportunities to perform a step or two. Don't miss this weekend in Massachusetts!

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