Storybook - The Odyssey
Rhythm of the Dance will bring you on an epic journey
through the ages, from ancient mythology to the travels of
the Irish emigrants, from the rolling hills and stonewalls
of Connemara all the way to the modern skyscrapers of New
York, with some surprises along the way.
The French revolution in the late 18th century stirred in
the Irish a thirst for equality. Our hero, the military
commander is too pre occupied with the impending battle
and as a result, is unable to see the love that awaits
him. Troops stand ready to protect their lands and as
potential invaders approach, it soon becomes apparent that
they are neighbouring allies. Our commander returns for a
The Irish Music Hall Melody
Irish storytelling has inhabited every corner of the world
through song. This cheerful
medley embodies the exuberance
that exists in this art form.
Rhythm in Motion
The introduction of show bands to Ireland in the 1960s
heralded an opportunity to feel the rhythm of the music
and dance! Not to dance alone but to find a dance partner,
someone who could share the passion of rhythm in motion.
The history of Ireland will always be marked by struggle;
for Irish independence from English rule. However, the
people of the North of Ireland have shown great courage in
accepting their neighbours in the hope of a peaceful
future. Communities divided by religion, led to many years
of turmoil, but they’ve endeavoured to forgive, move
forward and accept each other’s differences.
Bringing it All Back Home
Sean nós dance, translated from the Irish meaning, “old style”, is the oldest form of dancing in Ireland. Over time it gave way to a more intricate and controlled form known as Irish Step dancing, which is much more common today. The strong revival of Sean nós, force the two forms to compete. Who will dominate, or is there a possibility that the two forms can come together as one synergy?
Michael Collins (1890-1922), an Irish revolutionary
leader, called on many to protect the land and its people.
But what made him a renowned leader was his ability to put
himself above no man and share in the struggle as much as
each of his own men.
The Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara was the former seat of the High King of
Ireland; it was a battle ground where pagan Celts met the
Christian faithful. By the 7th century, Christianity was
the prevailing religion but prior to that, paganism was
the religion of the common man. This Celtic legacy is
still to be found in the roots of Irish Christianity.
Music is ingrained in the hearts of the Irish people.
Various festivals take place yearly in Ireland and across
the world, the streets come alive with a cacophony of
rhythms and melodies that soar into the early hours of the
After the potato famine in 1849 many people left the
homeland; the multitudes landed on the shores of the
United States. The Irish embraced a new and vital
community of diversity; they fused their traditional style
of music with the diverse sounds of their new home. New
sounds and rhythms emerged, ones that could never be
imagined at home in the Emerald Isle.
Will you go Lassie go, Jug of Punch, The Holy
Ground The Aran Sweaters are synonymous with
the Clancy Brothers, an influential Irish folk singing
group in the 1960s. Their success across the country
popularised Irish music in America, even touching a young
No longer blinded by night, the lovers emerge from the
darkness and become lost in their dance, a tango which
fades to the oncoming sound of neighbouring dancers as
they welcome in the sunrise
A New Dawn
The sun rises over the mythological hills in the east of Ireland, in the province of Ulster. Queen Maeve, the powerful queen of the western lands of Ireland, Connaught, embarks on a battle known as the “Cattle raid of Cooley”. While successful in bringing the bull back to Connaught her army is forsaken in Cooley with Cuchulainn, the “hound of Ulster”, and his Red Branch Knights.
Mountains of Mourne
A beautiful song written and composed through the eyes of a young irish emigrant
as he tells his Love back home of his experiences in London.
The celebrations continue with a lively reel that pulsates deep in
the hearts of the crowd gathered. Sporadic and spontaneous dance
is inevitable as the music exposes high spirits and joyous
Beat of the Bodhrán
Granuaile (Grace O Malley), a pirate of the 16th century nicknamed the “Sea Queen of Connaught”
was a fearless leader by land and by sea. She challenged and manipulated the turbulent politics of her time and was a true feminist trailblazer.
Here her strengths are put to the test by the beat of the drum.
Stomp to the beat
Many variations circulate about how the brush dance originated.
One such account speaks of how men outnumbered women and that the brush was used as a substitute
in the kitchen while they practiced! Here our sean nós dancer is found outnumbered,
and possibly in danger, can she find a way to emerge victorious?
Turloch Carolan (1670-1738), a harpist, was regarded by many as Ireland’s national composer.
Blindness by small pox at the age of eighteen, did not deter his musicality and for fifty years
travelled all of Ireland composing and performing his tunes. The familiar anthem of Danny Boy
is delicately played on the harp, portraying the heartache of a parent bidding farewell to a
son as he courageously sets off for war.
Not only did the Irish land in places like Boston and New York in times of immigration, the ports of
Savannah and New Orleans also saw them flood in. 1809 saw the first St Patrick’s day parade in New
Orleans but by the roaring 20s the Irish were well and truly integrated into American society.
Like much of American popular culture, swing music crossed ethnic and racial lines freely.
Celebrating the Emerald Isle
Rural Irish bars or pubs were often frequented by the working class folk and farmers.
A pint could be enjoyed whilst a gathering of musicians clustered together around the
open fireplace. Often a sean nós dancer would partake in the fun or craic.
It was said that - a good dancer could dance on a silver tray and a really
excellent dancer could dance on a six pence!!
Rhythmic cadences were often drummed in the onslaught of battle as a way to ward off the enemy.
The drumming, indicative of a Celtic heritage, became a symbol of togetherness,
our hearts beating in time ready to take on our adversaries.
The Journey’s End
This final time travel traverses the trial and tribulations of Ireland’s historic times at full tilt. The varying tempos, formations and rhythms lead to a climatic finish, resonating with the abundant spirit and energy of its people.