It’s been nearly a week since St. Patrick’s Day, but Irish stepdance is still on our minds. Stepdance is the subject of a lot of confusion in the dance world. First, people often confuse Irish stepdance with Riverdance. While related, the two are definitely different. Irish stepdance is a form of dance, while Riverdance is a show that incorporates different styles of music and Irish dance into a single captivating spectacle. The second confusion that a lot of Irish stepdancers face involves tap dancing.
To someone who doesn’t watch a lot of dance, the two styles might look pretty similar. Believe it or not, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Irish stepdancing probably came first, considering traveling dance masters were known to roam Ireland as early as the 1700s. Tap dancing, on the other hand, surfaced sometime in the mid-1800s, with many believing it originated in minstrel shows. Tap dance borrows elements of style from all kinds of histories and cultures, including everything from African tribal dances to English clog dances.
The following video perfectly demonstrates the many differences, and similarities, between these two forms of dance. As you can see, tap dancers are much more expressive with their arms and hands, waving them in flourishes that match the music, whereas stepdancers keep their upper bodies rigid throughout the entire performance. When a group of Irish stepdancers and a tap dancing duo meet face to face, though … there’s no telling what could happen. While there might be some playful rivalry between the two different types of dance, the dancers in this video clearly have a lot of respect for each other.
H/T: L.A. Bernardino J