Negotiating Boundaries in Irish Step-dance Performance Practice: Colin Dunne and Piano One

Catherine E. Foley

The cultural construction of Irish step dance embodies diverse performative meanings: meanings which are shared by different communities of step dancers.   From informal, improvisatory performances to formal, stylised and highly structured performances, step dance adapts, is adapted and appropriated to give meaning and kinaesthetic expression to both the individual step dancer and the group within these diverse dance communities. In this paper I look at notions of conceptual and aesthetic boundaries in Irish competitive step dance and at how step dancers attempt at negotiating these boundaries. In particular, the paper focuses on one particular step dancer, namely, Colin Dunne, and explores the artist’s attempts at negotiating the aesthetic and structural boundaries in Irish step dance performance practice and the artistic strategies employed by him to assist in this negotiation process. 

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