DkIT Research Provides Fresh Insights into Modern Development of Irish Dance14 October 2022
Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are thrilled to report that research by Dr Daithí Kearney, Co-Director of the Creative Arts Research Centre, has been published in the latest volume of the International Journal of Traditional Arts. Drawing on his own experience of learning and performing dance in Kerry, he critically examines developments by Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, viewed by many as a precursor to the international dance phenomenon Riverdance.
Born and raised in North Kerry, his paternal grandfather was a neighbour of Fr Pat Ahern, the founding Artistic Director of Siamsa Tíre. He learned Irish dance from Patricia Hanafin, for many years the choreographer and lead dancer with the company, who performed across America including at The Palace Theatre, Broadway, in 1976. As a member of the Siamsa Tíre company, Kearney was further influenced by Dance Master Jonathan Kelliher and toured internationally, including performances at the famous Forde’s Theatre in Washington DC and for EXPO2000 in Hannover.
While Riverdance has received global attention and economic success, it was preceded by a variety of projects, including ‘The Seville Suite’, a dance piece to music by Bill Whelan first performed at EXPO in 1992. Using performance and incorporating practice-led research, Kearney traces the incorporation of dance steps and styles into modern choreography and the subsequent resurgence of interest in local dance styles, with the North Kerry ‘Munnix’ style being learned and taught around the world.
Commenting on the article, Professor Simon McKerrell, editor of the IJTA said
‘there’s a real sense of deep knowledge of the tradition that comes through, and the article is similarly very critically aware and makes a really meaningful contribution to that whole idea about the somatic and tacit understanding of our cultural traditions. This article is one of a number of forthcoming publications by Kearney on Irish dance and folk theatre that draw attention to regional developments in the arts’