At first glance, Irish and modern dance seem worlds apart. Irish dancers, taught to maintain an upright posture, rigid arms and stick-straight legs, rarely find themselves practicing contractions and tilts. However, if you catch Darrah Carr Dance's upcoming NYC season, you might see Irish dancers doing just that! Choreographer Darrah Carr bridges the gap between the two genres with her signature "ModErin" style. Comprising dancers with a diverse array of backgrounds, the company performs everything from edgy ModErin fusion pieces to traditional Irish duets. DS caught up with Darrah Carr Dance company member Caitlin McNeill to get the scoop on this unique style. --Sarah Badger
Dance Spirit: How would you characterize Darrah's style? Caitlin McNeill: It's really dynamic, there are many parts to it. We add in swing and jazz, so it's not just modern and Irish. It's really high energy. Her style is also very collaborative--she starts off with a concept and then asks company members for input. It's very exciting!
DS: When did you start dancing with Darrah Carr? CM: I met Darrah while we were both dancing with Niall O'Leary's Irish Dance Troupe. I started dancing with her company when I was 17 (I'm 21 now) and mostly doing the Irish dance elements. After a year or so, Darrah asked, "Do you want to learn more of the fusion dances?" I learned the pieces and became one of her core members.
DS: What is your training background like? CM: I didn't have any training in other forms of dance besides Irish. I had seen some other shows with jazz and modern dance, but I didn't have any training.
DS: What was it like to transition from traditional Irish step dancing to ModErin? CM: Darrah is really big on incorporating arms into all of the dances and that's definitely the biggest challenge for me.
DS: Tell us a little about some of the pieces you'll be performing in the upcoming season. CM: One of my favorites is called "On the Six" and fuses Irish dance and swing dance. The audience really loves it!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.