They Got the Beat

April 7, 2011
Founded just three years ago, “Corcairdhearg: the Harvard College Irish Dancers” have quickly made a name for themselves – and not just one that is difficult to pronounce. Their performance “We Got the Beat: An Evening of Rhythmic Dancing,” on Saturday April 2nd at 8PM, was entertaining, lively, and impressive. The intricate footwork, clean formations, and refreshing variety displayed both the virtuosity of the more skilled dancers, as well as the enthusiasm of those trying Irish dance for the first time. Overall, the evening, much like the style of dance itself, was well organized, concise, and beautifully executed.

The audience was welcomed to Lowell Lecture Hall by the sounds of a live guitar, strings, and flute playing traditional Irish music. After a short introduction and lesson in pronunciation (cor-kee-AIR-egg), the dancers got down to business. The powerful opener, which fittingly shared the show’s title, was a jaw-dropping presentation of hard-shoe dancing (reminiscent of tap) in its most raw form. Without music or flashy costumes, dancers pounded out syncopated rhythms with lightening speed and almost frightening precision. This piece set a high standard for the rest of the show.

“Shippin’ Up to Boston” was set to a heavy rock song with Irish flair, as senior members of the company displayed their strengths and tipped their (baseball) hats to the city of Boston. “Marie’s Wedding” featured some of Corcairdhearg’s less experienced steppers, who nevertheless created the fun atmosphere of a group dance, perhaps at a party or wedding, as the title suggested.

Several dances also displayed impressive individual talent, specifically that of Aaron Fallon ’11 and Moira Forberg ’11, whose featured roles throughout the evening showcased their incredible technique and skill. Additionally featured in more traditional numbers were some alarmingly bright, sequined, and rather mismatched traditional costumes, which added flair despite their initial shock.

Guest performances included Irish Dance Groups from Boston College, Boston University, and, most notably, Tufts, as well as Harvard EXP (Expressions Dance Company’s travelling subgroup), and Harvard Ballet Folklórico de Aztlán. The variety that these performances brought to the show was much appreciated, but Corcaidhearg outshone them all with its clarity and professionalism.

While the company’s power lay in its loud, action-packed, and intricate hard-shoe dances, some of the most entertaining numbers involved further innovation on the part of choreographers. The collaborative number “THUD at the Pub,” featured Corcairdhearg dancers and members of THUD, the Harvard University Drummers, in a friendly competition. In the setting of a pub, the drummers used pitchers, brooms, and water glasses to compete with the fast tapping of the flirty girls in sundresses. Later, the 15 plus dancers in the soft-shoe number entitled “Hugo’s Big Reel,” used a constant flow of tight formations, which were downright mesmerizing from the balcony of the lecture hall. Both experienced and less technical dancers shined equally in simple red dresses and black leotards, working together to create an effect that was nearly magical.

In the end, the members of Corcairdhearg wowed the audience with their passion and skill. Despite the loss of some talented seniors and company founders next year, HAR eagerly looks forward to seeing what this gem of a dance group produces in the future.

The Harvard Art Review Dance Board
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