Ceolchuairt: Nua Eabhrac (Hoofin' Irish Style)

Ceolchuairt: Nua Eabhrac (Hoofin' Irish Style)


Reviewed by: Chris

Sean-nós dancer Seosamh Ó Neachtain goes on a dancing pilgrimage to New York. His intention is to investigate connections between his traditional Irish style of dancing and tap dancing New York style. I think it would be fair to say he does a pretty good job of it. There is a delightful interchange as he learns a few moves from dancers on Brooklyn rooftop and shows them some of his. He goes on to Harlem, talks to people on the street, and finally to a ‘dance-off’ in Times Square. His enquiries, both verbally and with his dancing feet, are intelligent and illuminating.

Hoofin' Irish Style shows integrity and humility in pursuing its subject. There is an openness and sincerity as people of all ages discuss their love of dance with this Irish-speaking expert from distant shores. Sean wants to revive the dance-offs from 150 years ago. Black Americans and the Irish in open competition in the bad old days when both were underdogs. “Dancing puts you in touch with your feelings,” says the mum of a dancer he meets. These people have a ‘commoner’s touch’ in their dancing. It’s street. It’s genuine. It’s intoxicatingly from the heart. “They would dance to the drumbeat of their soul,” says an old man, recalling his African roots. Everyone agrees that the dancing has a ‘soul’ that dancers trained at Institute lack.

A beautiful, heartfelt film. But where it falls short, if at all, is that the dancer/filmmaker’s terpsichorean skills seem far more exceptional than his cinematic ones. There is so much good material but, as far as I can tell, it has been recorded largely by little more than setting up a camera and pressing the ‘on’ button. The Times Square dance-off, for instance, should have been a dramatic highlight, but just tapers off. The simple honesty of an artist on a quest deserved sufficient post-production work to bring out its true value. But having said that, perhaps the aim was a much simpler one, and at a low cost. If the filmmaker is satisfied that his aim has been achieved, I take my hat off to him.

Reviewed on: 25 May 2009
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Exploring the connection between traditional Irish dancing and New York-style tap.
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Director: Paddy Hayes

Year: 2007

Runtime: 25 minutes

Country: Ireland


Dancefilm 2009

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