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but he needed to devise a whole set of new movements to do so.
“My version of Irish dance involves a lot more of the body than those more recognisable motifs,” de Gallaí says. I explored movement patterns that have come about from the use of devices: the stoop forward, the hand up to take a selfie.
These are our signature gestures, that we’ve deconstructed to come up with a vocabulary for our production.” Fusing Irish dance with other genres to expand its expressive capabilities for a modern era isn’t a unique concept. “Many choreographers want to do the Riverdance kind of show, which is all about self-aggrandising feats of skill, and that’s all fine,” de Gallaí says.
“But to say that the Irish dancing body can’t evoke other emotions, I would say that that’s not true; that’s my experience.” De Gallaí, the Gaoth Dobhair native and Gaeilgeoir who was principal dancer with Riverdance for seven years, is quite open about it; his time with the production still influences his work, but only in that it’s everything he doesn’t want his own work to be.
The one thousand year old white heron ritual dance was originally performed to drive out the plague and to purify the spirits on their passage to the next world.
They are known as the birds of happiness and are associated with fidelity because they mate for life.
They are also symbols of longevity and are often drawn with pine trees, tortoises, stones and bamboos, which are all symbols of long life.
Sequences sensitively split between dancing in hard shoes, soft shoes and in bare feet, the variance in sound, rather than an incessant hard shoe tapping, drives home more deeply how much of Irish dance is actually percussion of the body.
The bare foot sequences are the most beautiful of all, accentuating the duality between the vulnerability on the one hand, and incredible strength and speed on the other, of the dancers.