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Irish Dance team hosts annual showcase

| Friday, January 19, 2018

The Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Irish dance team is shaking down thunder this weekend with its annual showcase “Celtic Thunder.” The group will perform traditional Irish dances with a modern twist in the hopes of providing the student body with a engaging cultural experience.

The showcase will take place in Washington Hall on the main stage Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.

The team has been preparing for the upcoming performances since the fall semester. To further polish and perfect the dances, the team has been rehearsing for five hours each night this week.

Saint Mary’s senior and co-president of the Irish dance team Alanna O’Donnell said the dances create an intriguing and charming performance.

“We have a few fun numbers planned,” she said. “Some of the girls made up their own dances, so we’re really excited to show what we’ve come up with and what we’ve been working on all semester.”

Notre Dame senior and co-president Michaela Fallon said this year’s showcase is focused on integrating conventional Irish dances with more contemporary steps.

“The audience can expect a lot of traditional Irish step dancing but also a lot of stuff with a more modern take,” Fallon said. “We have a few numbers from ‘Riverdance’ and ‘Lord of the Dance,’ so if people have seen that they might be more familiar with that style of performance dancing. We like to take traditional Irish dancing and jazz it up a little bit.”

As the weekend of the showcase approached, the team adhered to a strict schedule of when to assign, choreograph and run specific dances during rehearsal times.

Fallon said she views the performances this weekend as a chance for the group to express their passion and dedication to a sport which many of them joined at a young age.

“We get an opportunity to share our weird activity that we do with the rest of campus and open people’s eyes to a form of dance they may not know about,” she said. “It’s not everyday that you meet someone who does Irish dance.”

The co-presidents said the main goal for this weekend was to have as many auditorium chairs filled as possible, as the showcase will raise money for the Ceili team to compete in Ireland this February. This subset of the Irish dance team has traveled to Ireland for a Ceili competition — a traditional dance showcase — for several years and has won six times.

The team will also travel to the University of Dayton this semester for an intercollegiate competition. O’Donnell said she hopes the dancers will bring back first place prizes to the Notre Dame campus.

In addition to this weekend’s showcase, the Irish dance team has performed at an alumni dinner, the South Bend Celtic Festival, International Taste of South Bend, conferences and club events this year. The team will also perform at a basketball halftime show in February.

Freshman Colleen Bartlett said she joined the Irish dance team this past fall in hopes of furthering her dance career while becoming more involved in the Notre Dame community.

“As a new freshman, I’m bringing my 12 years of dance experience to my new team, but I’m also following the upperclassmen’s lead in terms of the expectations of being an Irish dancer at Notre Dame,“ she said. “Now that the showcase is this weekend, I’m excited to get to share this part of my life with my friends.”

A key feature of the Irish dance team at Notre Dame is its dedication to tradition, O’Donnell said.

“I hope we can carry on what we’ve been doing since this team started because everything is passed down,” she said. “We’ve always followed the past presidents in terms of past showcases. We just hope to carry on the legacy and continue to promote the team.”

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