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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

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Irish dance team performs annual showcase

This past weekend, the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Irish Dance team performed their annual showcase in Washington Hall. With shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the event demonstrated dances the team has been working on since the beginning of the school year. 

The team is divided into two halves, each with a co-president who run the club together. Molly Brown, a Saint Mary’s senior and blue team co-president, explained more about how the teams are divided. 

“Blue team is mainly soft shoe, which is a ballet slipper type shoe. The gold team does mainly hard shoe, which is like a tap show with a loud fiberglass tip. Both teams do both shoes, it's just each has their focus.”

Brown joined the Irish dance team after it was such a prominent part of her childhood. "I started dancing when I was five and competed until the eighth grade. I took high school off to do marching band, but then I decided to come back in freshman year of college as a fun, non-competitive thing.”

Gold team co-president and Notre Dame senior, Maria Murphy has a similar background. “I started Irish dance when I was five, so I’ve been dancing for 17 years.”

“I started out just for fun but then naturally started competing. Through late grade school and early high school, I would travel internationally and nationally and compete in solos and teams.”

“In high school, I had a stress fracture in my shin so I quit dancing and started again when I came to Notre Dame as a freshman.”

On the team, you will find many other dancers with long histories in Irish dance, which is one of the few requirements to join.

“You have to have past Irish dance experience to join, but it doesn’t have to be a lot. We have some dancers that danced for three or four years and some that danced all through school,” Brown said.

“We do have tryouts but we don’t cut anybody from the team. It’s just to see which shoe you have more experience with.”

The showcase is the team’s primary event during the school year, with practices throughout the fall semester leading up to it. 

“We practice all year for this specific show, but we only have practice once a week. Then the week before the show we had practice from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. This is the biggest commitment for the club,” Brown said.

“We spend all the time just learning the dances that go into the showcase,” said Murphy. “A lot of the dances are ones we do each year, but this year, we added some new dances too.”

This year, the name of the show was Fáilte which is the Gaelic word for welcome. “We wanted it to be a welcoming show, a welcoming environment,” Brown said.

Murphy explained how this idea was reflected in some new features of the show.

“Molly and I were discussing the show and we had this idea of being able to get the crowd more into interacting with the show. I think Molly had the idea of like, why don’t we have people from the crowds come up and we can teach them how to do a jig?”

Over the course of the three nights, each show featured a segment where Brown and Murphy taught audience members and a special guest a short jig. Night one featured Father Pete McCormick, the second starred members of Dillon Hall and the last show featured Notre Dame’s very own Leprechaun Ryan Coury. 

If you missed the showcase, “you can just search Notre Dame Saint Mary’s Irish Dance showcase 2024 and you can watch it there,” Brown said.

There will also be other times to catch the team in action as they often perform at other campus events throughout the year. 

Murphy said, “We perform at Football Friday events and usually do a basketball halftime show. St Patrick’s Day, we have a lot of different shows around. And we have performed at Saint Mary’s Dance marathon and for other organizations around South Bend."