“Do You Want to See My Hornpipe?”: The Traditional Irish Dancing Body at Play in the Work of Jean Butler and Colin Dunne.

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      This chapter considers the radical re-imaginings of traditional Irish step dance in the recent works of Jean Butler and Colin Dunne. In Butler's Does She Take Sugar (2007) and Dunne's Out of Time (2008), the Irish step dancing body is separated from its historical roots in nationalism, from the exhibitionism required by the competitive form, and from the spectacularization of the commercialized theatrical format. In these works, which are both solo pieces performed by the choreographers themselves, the traditional form undergoes a critical interrogation in which the dancers attempt to depart from the determinacy of the traditional technique, while acknowledging its formation of their corporealities; the Irish step dance technique becomes a springboard for creative experimentation. In order to consider the importance of the creative potential revealed by these works, this chapter will contextualize them within the dance background from which they emerged, outlining the history of competitive step dancing in Ireland, the "modernization" of traditional Irish dance with the emergence of Riverdance (1994), and the experiments of Ireland's national folk theatre, Siamsa Tíre.
      Original languageEnglish
      Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity
      EditorsAnthony Shay
      PublisherOxford University Press
      StatePublished - Dec 2013

      ID: 9008224