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What happens when you put an expressive form in a competitive frame? This question motivates Frank Hall’s study of competitive Irish stepdancing. He examines this dance tradition—from the organization of competitions to the movement of dancers’ bodies—in relation to themes of authority, authenticity, and control. Irish stepdancing, known for many decades primarily in ethnic enclaves, expanded tremendously as Riverdance and other shows took this dance form to new performance contexts on the world stage. In describing and analyzing the history and development of competitive stepdancing in Ireland, the United States, and beyond, Hall reveals the issues, forces, and values that entwine all participants, including competition organizers, judges, dancers, parents, and teachers. Investigating the process of teaching and learning the movement and analyzing its stage performance, he elucidates the syntactic and semantic dimensions of Irish dancing as a body language.
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Frank Hall holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Indiana University. He is an Irish musician living in County Galway, Ireland, where he is active in community service with the Kinvara Area Music Collective (KAM).Review:
“Competitive Irish Dance: Art, Sport, Duty is an absorbing book. It brings together the disciplines of anthropology and dance to provide a fascinating interpretation of competitive Irish step dance. It is a valuable resource for dancers, anthropologists, and others, and Frank Hall and Macater Press are to be congratulated on its publication.”—Dr. Catherine Foley, The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland --Dr. Catherine E. Foley, University of Limerick
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