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Queer Dance$
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Clare Croft

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199377329

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199377329.001.0001

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An Buachaillín Bán

An Buachaillín Bán

Reflections on One Queer’s Performance within Traditional Irish Music and Dance

(p.185) 10 An Buachaillín Bán
Queer Dance

Nicholas Gareiss

Oxford University Press

Helen O’Shea asserts that ‘Irish’ and ‘queer’ are mutually exclusive identifications in the discourse of Irish nationalism and Irish traditional arts. If indigenous Irish cultural practices are indeed devoid of queerness, how can queer dancers working within these forms make sense of their role as both cultural exponents and sexual and gender outsiders? Embodying alterity within idioms historically touted as the representation of essentialized Irishness, how do queer Irish step dancers negotiate their queerness through a dance form historically cast so close to the heteronormative heart of rural Ireland? This chapter queries the experience of the author to excavate nascent queerness within Irish traditional dance practice. Drawing upon his fifteen years of performance and ethnography with many of the luminaries of traditional Irish music and dance, the essay offers a queer reimagining of contemporary performance conventions of Irish step dance, revealing insights into the form’s ethnology and proposing new possibilities for Irish dance as a polysemic means of cultural and personal expression.

Keywords:   performance, Ireland, ethnography, step dance, traditional arts, nationalism, Irish dance, Irish music, queer

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