Belfast Telegraph

History of Irish dance goes on show

A new exhibition charting the history of Irish dancing is to open in Northern Ireland.

From its historic origins to the worldwide phenomenon of Riverdance, A Step In Time: The Story Of Irish Dance is being hosted by the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Co Down.

National Museums Northern Ireland's curator of textiles Valerie Wilson said: "This exhibition will deepen visitors' appreciation of Irish dance and its wonderfully rich history of music, jewellery and fashion.

"The exhibition charts the fascinating history of Irish dance from the 1800s, telling its full story through people and collections such as pieces from the celebrated teacher of Irish dance and choreographer Patricia Mulholland, the 1904 Feis na nGleann, distinctive Riverdance costumes right through to a bespoke costume by acclaimed designer Gavin Doherty.

"The style and personality of Irish dance has evolved much since its inception. Costumes have moved from simple, basic dresses to more elaborate and extravagant designs and the genre has much more variety."

Exhibition highlights include a dress and brat (cape) made by the Dun Emer Guild from 1928 on loan from the National Museum of Ireland, an early 1900s embroidered Bishop's piece alongside costumes and the evocative music from Riverdance.

The exhibition also features All-Ireland and Ulster champion Pat Henderson's costume from her 1955 success and audio accounts of her encounters with Bing Crosby, as well as her appearance on the Ed O'Sullivan Show in the US.

Jim McGreevy, director of collections and interpretation for National Museums Northern Ireland, said: "This ground-breaking exhibition will bring the story of Irish dance to life. It will also showcase ways in which, 50 years on, the Folk Museum continues to play a unique role in keeping craft traditions alive and flourishing.

"Our craft demonstrators have skilfully recreated a 1911 costume, including intricate embroidery, our blacksmith has reproduced an ornate 8th century pennanular brooch, and our internationally-acclaimed basket-maker has used willow to create a stunning 12ft tall Irish dance feature at the entrance to the exhibition."

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