Academic Chops

Published by Erica on

I decided to enter my thoughts into the HERA (Humanities) Conference for 2013. Why?? I don’t know. I guess because parts of me miss academia and I knew my prior research fit will with the topic of sacred site/secular spaces. I may or may not be accepted… I’m sure they give precedent to actual scholars in school. And with the fee’s I’d pay as a non-student… not sure I’d accept the invitation. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here is my conference proposal. 

Ancient and Present Rhythms in Tap and Irish Step Dance

Thump-thump. Thump-thump. The body lives in a steady beat, drummed daily by the heart. It moves in rhythmic cycles, regulated by the beat and rhythm of nature. Humans have historically moved and been moved by the rhythms of the world. Urges to replicate, manipulate, and appreciate those natural cadences resulted in some of the greatest, most innovative works of art. Dance places rhythm and time at the forefront of its creations; the now mundane pulse of life becomes beautiful once again through dance’s interpretations. American tap and Irish step dance epitomize the expression of sacred rhythms in secular spaces, drawing on a heritage steeped in spiritual roots and thriving in the material world of entertainment.

The percussive dance stylings of tap and Irish step dance offer a rich comparison of how acoustic space can be utilized to shape histories. Shelley Berg notes the link forged between past and present through dance performance, stating, “[t]he past is shaped by the present and the present is reshaped by the past. At any given instant, we both live history and live in history” (225). Performers presenting tap or Irish dance simultaneously express the present – the rhythmic expressions created in the moment and existing in real time – while conjuring images of the past. For both forms, the sound expresses a much older beat, born of deeply ancient heritages. Tap and Irish dance use complex rhythms that evoke powerful cadences from the past, made relevant through present-ing. 


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