Festival Style Irish Dance at Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland
Dancer and scholar Kate Spanos will demonstrate the festival style of Irish dance at the Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland this year. Festival style Irish dance is a form associated with Northern Ireland that is distinct from the “feis” style step dancing that emerged in the mid-twentieth century. The style was pioneered by Patricia Mulholland, a fiddler and dancer, who created a “folk ballet” in the 1930-1950s to appeal to both Catholics and Protestants in the Belfast area. Influenced by Scottish and Irish step dancing, festival style is known for its slow, elegant, and controlled slip jigs and set dances. Creating “light and shade” in one’s dancing is an important aspect of the style, with graceful leg lifts, swoops, and spins. Drawing on her studies with Ruth Long and Lauren Smyth in the festival style tradition, Kate will present a showcase of traditional and modern soft shoe and hard shoe dances in this style.