Student organization taps into Irish heritage through dance

The Irish Dance Team is a student organization that celebrates Irish culture and heritage through traditional dance and music. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Schofield

The Ohio State Irish Dance Team celebrates Irish culture with traditional steps, fun music, and occasional pub performances.

The Irish Dance Team is a student organization that participates twice a year and performs at several events across the state of Ohio and throughout Columbus. The members show their love for the dance style and Irish culture through performances, according to the team student organization page.

“Everything is also really essential, as passed down for hundreds of years,” said Brigid Lawler, a fourth-year industrial and systems engineer and vice president of the club. “So while it’s evolved over the years to become a bit more, probably, practical and stylish, it’s all rooted in tradition.”

Although many other dance-based student organizations hold auditions for their members, Lawler said the Irish Dance Team does not and no previous Irish dancing experience is required to join, although that she said it was strongly encouraged.

“You don’t really have an audition for the team,” Lawler said. “It’s more like hearing about it by word of mouth. Like, if you were into the Irish dancing world, you probably know which colleges have an Irish dancing team.

Although the group uses traditional and culturally Irish dance moves, the team sometimes like to break tradition with what they call a “fun number”, which is danced to a more popular song as opposed to Irish music, Maggie Smith, a third-year human nutrition and choreography chair for the organization, said.

In Irish dancing, the traditional music and the steps themselves are representative of Irish culture, said Erin Byrne, a third-year psychology and neuroscience student and club treasurer. By dancing the steps to traditional music, she said the dance team celebrates Irish culture and heritage.

“I would say dance is culture. And the music,” Byrne said. “Then when we do, like, the ‘fun number,’ there’s traditional Irish music, and then it goes to ‘Let’s Groove’. But like, the steps we do are all traditionally, I would say, culturally Irish .

Because St. Patrick’s Day was during spring break, the team hadn’t planned any events or performances together, said Meaghan Vrabel, a fourth-year nursing student and club secretary.

Lawler said the team performs at many Ohio State events throughout the year, such as BuckeyeThon, and competes twice a year — once in the fall and once in April. . However, she said the band’s favorite performances often took place in off-campus pubs and bars.

“We hope next year to have more organized things, with one or another of the bars on campus – Lucky’s was our go-to place, but now that Lucky’s is gone, it’s hard to get, for example. example, a place to slide a few steps on the floor,” said Maggie Lavelle, a fourth-year speech and hearing science student and club president.

Irish dancing can serve as a link connecting Irish heritage, traditions and people through a small, tight-knit community, Lavelle said.

“Irish heritage, I often feel like you think about closeness and connections. A lot of people are from Cleveland or Cincinnati, and a lot of people know people who know people,” Lavelle said. “Going to Ohio State, which is such a big school, and then meeting people you’ve never met before, but they know people you know, and it makes school feel like is much smaller.”

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