ReJigged ~ Kieran Jordan
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Kieran Jordan is a performer, teacher, and choreographer of Irish dance. Recently we spoke with her about her involvement with this weekend’s ReJigged Festival in Nova Scotia.
What is your own ethnicity/heritage?
An American blend! My great-grandfather Thomas McDonald came from County Kilkenny in Ireland and I was raised with a very strong connection to Ireland, through his daughter, my grandmother. My mother’s parents were from Prague, and Alsace, in France, so I’m made up of many different European influences.
When and why did you get involved with Irish Dance?
I started Irish dancing when I was five years old … we were on a family outing to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Philadelphia, where I grew up. I saw the Timoney dancers in the parade and begged my parents for lessons.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
I have always loved Irish dancing. As a child, I loved the music, the patterns in the steps, the physical and creative expression of movement, and the social community that I experienced through the dancing schools — competitions, céilís, and other performances and events. Now I appreciate all of those things, in a deeper way. Since I started studying Irish dance history in college, I especially appreciate the legacy and lineage that exists in the dance traditions – steps, and styles, passed on from one generation to the next. I also appreciate the way the dancing has always served a communal purpose in people’s lives. For me as a performing artist and choreographer, there is a focus on preserving tradition, but also on crafting and creating new material, which is the creative process. Irish dance provides a rich context for that creative work. As a teacher, I still love looking at the design elements within figure dancing, and the subtle nuances in step dancing. I never get tired of exploring all of this, in words and in movement.
How are you involved with the Irish Dance community back home in Boston?
I have been self-employed in dance in Boston since 2001, as a teacher, performer, and choreographer. My teaching focus has always been non-competitive, so I try to incorporate Irish dance history, live music collaborations, and more into my programs.
How did you get involved with ReJigged?
I was invited to perform and teach at the first Re-Jigged Festival, by Elizabeth MacDonald, who teaches dance in Halifax and is one of the festival organizers. This will now be my third year attending.
What can audiences expect from your performance?
There are some exciting collaborations on tap! A large part of what I do with sean-nós (old style) Irish dance is improvised. I will be meeting and collaborating with many of the festival artists for the first time, so it will be a here-and-now creation of material on stage. I will also be dancing with Brian Cunningham, the sean-nós dancer from Ireland who I’ve been collaborating with for the past couple years.
Will you be involved with the festival again in the years ahead?
I hope so!
What’s on tap for you for the rest of 2013?
I’m always pretty busy with choreography and teaching projects. I’m the choreographer for Atlantic Steps – Brian Cunningham’s touring sean-nós dance show – so we are gearing up for a winter tour of the US. My company Kieran Jordan Dancers launched a new show earlier this year as well, so I’m working on moving that forward. I also have collaborations in the works with local musicians in Boston … it’s a wonderful place for Irish music and stimulating, creative work.