On Thursday October 2nd, a new publication “Dance in Ireland: Steps, Stages and Stories”, was launched at Siamsa Tíre in Tralee by Pat Ahern, founding director of the national folk theatre. The author, Dr Sharon Phelan, lectures in performing arts and cultural studies at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.
The book explores dance in Ireland since the 1200s. At the outset, it recognizes the contribution of British and French dancers to the Irish dance tradition and it illustrates the evolution of the dance master system in Ireland. It progresses to the pantomimic dance traditions, such as Wexford Mumming and it acknowledges where movements in dance during the rising arose among clerics, nationalists, feminists and the Anglo Irish. The final chapter in the book strikes a personal note, as it is devoted to the evolution of dance in Siamsa Tíre.
Speaking at the launch Pat said, “Dance in Ireland: Steps, Stages and Stories” digs deep. It is at pains to uncover the varied, early traces of dance in Ireland, and to articulate the influences that have driven its emerging story up to now. In this, Sharon Phelan has set herself a very large canvas indeed, but she fills it with compelling enthusiasm, with impressive scholarship, with painstaking research, thoroughly referenced and in a style that is gentle and engaging. I feel that this book is, and will be, an invaluable resource for students, indeed for anybody, interested in the story of Dance in Ireland, and in particular with the story of dance in North Kerry. In the latter context, I see it as yet another milestone in the annals of Siamsa Tíre.”
This is the first publication from Dr Phelan who was joined at the launch by Dr Brian Coates from the University of Limerick and commented that “during the book, cultural theorists rub shoulders with Irish dancers and as the book progresses it exhibits the importance of dance in Ireland.”
Commenting on the launch Dr Oliver Murphy, President at the IT, Tralee said, “On behalf of the staff, students and management of the IT, Tralee I would like to congratulate Sharon on the launch of her first book. “Dance in Ireland: Steps, Stages and Stories” will provide an academic source for third level students internationally and it will also be a valuable read for dance and cultural enthusiasts.”
Sharon Phelan’s love for dance originated in the Teach Siamsa training centre in Finuge in North Kerry. She moved on to perform with Siamsa Tire for over twenty years. Today, Sharon lectures in dance at graduate and postgraduate level at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.