Irish Dancers Find Their Identity In Bloomington

Irish Dancers Find Their Identity In Bloomington

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Last summer, before the start of classes, first year student Catherine O’Malley realized that Indiana University did not have an outlet for local Irish Dancers, so she thought she’d take things into her own hands and started to reach out to a group through Facebook.

That group of friends has turned into a group of 10 first year students with over 100 years of combined experience in Irish dances.

The dancers come from several different schools in the Greater Chicago area and a few from outlying areas.

One of those from outside Chicago is Iris Summers, a dancer from Valparaiso, Indiana.

Iris tells says the most difficult part of moving from school to school, or dance group to dance group, is the language barrier.

The rules of Irish Dance don’t allow for much shift in the hundreds of group, or “ceili” dances, but they don’t make any distinction over how the techniques are transmitted to the younger generation.

So dancers like Iris are taught the “hot dog” or the “pizza box” while others are taught “tippy-tippy” or “whip.”

When the various glossaries come together, things can become more than confusing.

The IDentity Dancers will be appearing in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17th.

They will perform in Bloomington during the Bloomington Celtic Culture Weekend, March 27th-29th, where participants will also be taught an Irish jig.

David Wood

Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, David Wood moved to Bloomington in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University, and his Master of Music from the University of North Texas. He studied ensemble direction at the Jacobs School of Music's Early Music Institute and joined WFIU in 2006 as an announcer. In 2008 he became WFIU's Music Director and also served as Art Bureau Chief from 2008-2013. David’s interests include Irish music and language (particularly traditional singing), music and religion, running, the outdoors, and, of course, classical music!

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