Arts, On Campus, Featured Story

An Eclectic Mix of Tradition and Modernity, Boston College Irish Dance Celebrates Their Tenth Anniversary With ‘inTensity’

High in the back rows of Robsham Theater, as family and friends brimmed with eager anticipation. While waiting for the show to start, members of the crowd spent their time looking at the senior dedication pages in the showbill. As the lights dimmed, signalling the start of the performance, an excited shout rose up from the crowd, embellished by cheers and applause.

The defending Showdown champions had arrived.

A voice blared over the speakers, announcing the title of the first dance number, “Light It Up,” in a distinct Irish brogue. The members of Boston College Irish Dance (BCID) , all female, appeared on stage complete with black tights, skirts, and the custom t-shirts depicting the name of the performance that night—inTensity, a celebration of the 10th anniversary of BCID.

Stepping high on their toes, the dancers flew across the stage, forming moving lines and spinning circles. One group movement popular among the audience was, in lay terms, a “circle dance.” The dancers would join hands in a circle, spinning around and around. At a change in beat of the music, the circle would quickly divide in half, forming two spinning circles. At a second change, these two circles would divide again. The patterns of whirling dancers were mesmerizing to watch. “Light It Up” seemed to be the perfect start to the show. The choreographer for the number, Aine McGovern, MCAS ’17, a senior on the team, said that she chose the song specifically for its pump-up value.

“I wanted our opening number to make a statement,” McGovern said in the show’s program. “To immediately get the crowd dancing in their seats and excited for what more is to come.”

After the dance team exited the stage to prepare for the next song, the lights dimmed again. The audience’s excitement, however, was not muted in the slightest. In the dark, the dancers were not on stage to entertain the crowd, so the crowd began to entertain itself. From every corner of the room, audience members yelled various whoops and hollers, met by giggles from the surrounding rows. Shouts of “Marco!” and answers of “Polo!” echoed through the main-stage auditorium of Robsham. A pseudo-competition from the different support groups for each performer began, shouting the names of the people they had come to see. Those who came to support “Maeve!” were out in especially vociferous numbers.

“Heartbeat” was the next song in the performance, and it marked a brief transition from electronic music to more traditional Irish music. Choreographer Camille Homa, MCAS ’18 and a sports staffer for The Heights, chose the song after she saw the recent Boston show, “Heartbeat of Home.”

“‘Heartbeat’ pays homage to the traditional Irish dance shows of our youth,” Homa said in the program. “No matter where I am, the heartbeat of Irish dance brings me home.”

The song was certainly more traditional, but the dancing seemed more modern. The performers stepped much faster, their feet flying back and forth. This dance put more on the line for BCID. The music was much quieter at times, and all the audience could hear was the tapping of shoes. This meant that if any of the performers slipped up and missed a step, the audience would have been able to hear it. No one missed a step, however, and the music was brought up in volume again—this time with a distinctly Spanish flavor. The dance number was aptly named, because as the song progressed, the heartbeat of the audience matched the rhythm of the music. Feet tapped the floor and heads bobbed in unison throughout the crowded auditorium.

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In each of the acts, there was a performance by a guest group. The first was a performance by the Boston College Dance Ensemble, a group of female dancers at BC. It began with a slow beat progression as the dancers glided across the stage cloaked in shadow. As the music, “Cool Girl” by Tove Lo, picked up, more of Dance Ensemble joined the stage. Dressed in tight black leotards, the performers demonstrated amazing flexibility while they gracefully flowed back and forth. The second performance was by Fuego Del Corazon. As usual, BC’s Latin Dance team gave a stunning and sensual performance.

After the intermission, the crowd was in need of a little “pumping-up.” The first performance of the second act conjured images of Boston sports as the first notes of Celtic punk song, “Shipping Up To Boston,” played. Each of the members of the Irish Dance team was dressed in their favorite Boston sports teams shirts, with one member representing the best Boston sports team, Boston College.

inTensity was nothing if not eclectic in its choices for music taste. Mixed between the traditional music and Celtic rock were genuine pop songs like “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake—Jacqui Andrews, MCAS ’17, choreographed the number. She is one of the seniors on BCID, and despite its label as a generic pop song, chose it for its message.

“This song was chosen at the start of senior year when feeling a bit nostalgic thinking about the past years in dance,” Andrews said in the showbill.

Other modern songs chosen included “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira—in which the dance team skillfully stepped in time with the beat while also adding a touch of flare and some purposeful hop swings, to the wild applause and cheers of the audience—“Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC, bringing the full range of Justin Timberlake to Robsham, and a number titled “The Life of Pablo,” which served as “a tribute to Kanye West and his ever growing artistry (and downward spiral),” according to choreographer Amanda Williams, MCAS ’17, in the program.

The highlight of the evening came at almost the very end of the performance. The second to last song was titled “Seniors,” featuring only the senior members of BCID. Besides the wealth of talent between the six performers, the audience could feel the sense of family between them. As the graduating members of the team danced their hearts out, a slideshow of pictures played across the screen behind them. Glimpses of the group at parties or dance gatherings with smiles from ear to ear added a heartfelt touch to the end of the show. After the group photo slideshow, the photos changed to a collage of pictures featuring each senior as a young girl garbed in her traditional Irish dance dress. Smiles played across the faces of each audience member in reaction to the striking comparison, and contrast, between the little girls on the screen and the women dancing on stage. These dancers had choreographed a large part of the show, and it was clear that this one was special to them because, as well as being the 10th anniversary of BCID, it was their last.

The inTensity show put on by BCID was stunning, powerful, and eclectic. The club’s team is very deep, displaying clear talent from the younger members of the group. While the show was a stunning performance and a fitting tribute to 10 years of Irish Dance, inTensity left the audience eager for next year’s performance. Especially in the city of Boston, Irish Dance is alive and well.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

February 26, 2017