Irish dancing? Try it, you might like it

Trinity Irish Dance Company
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
March 13-14, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $17.50-44, discounts for students and seniors

Trinity Irish Dance Company is coming to Portland just in time for the week of St. Patrick’s Day. I was thinking: does sitting in a chair for an hour, unable to move, unable to do anything but patiently watch a bunch of cabaret girls with fake curly hair and shining white teeth parade around a couple of men in green tights to the sounds of folk music sound like my worst nightmare, or what?

I read somewhere that the Trinity Irish Dance Company has been known to “cast a spell on the audience.” And I was thinking that it’s probably the kind of spell that has to do with sleeping.

With the stinking trend of Irish dancing being as popular as it is (Dance of the Rivers, Lord of the Rivers, RiverJig or whatever).

Not only do I feel compelled to stay away from the river, but I don’t want to hear about it. Not even a tippity tap. Not in a house, not with a mouse, not in a million years, not even with a million green beers.

But, amidst my artless life of protesting and fighting the system, and oh yeah, school, I gave it another thought.

And on the fifth day of rethinking these thoughts, and finally having to write about them, I just started typing.

And it is the typing that has brought me to this thought: A million times more than typing at a slow and uninspired rate, I would rather hear the certain and calculated tapping of a foot on a stage.

This makes me think, “What has brought each one of us to live the multi-rhythmic and differentiated lives we live? And just how different are they?”

What would inspire a man like Mark Howard, the founder and artistic director of the Trinity Irish Dance Company, to present to the world in the form of dance, the one thing that has inspired him in his life?

Was he moved by the ill history of Ireland and its working conditions that caused many to march the streets, the country, the world wide, in unison to make loud the harsh conditions of their lives? Or is it simply the mythological and story-telling influence of Ireland that inspired the England born, Chicago-raised Howard to create a home for tap dancers to flock to?

They did flock to it; and it seems that the Trinity Irish Dance Company started a trend in 1979 that hasn’t died yet.

But, just what makes the Trinity Irish Dance Company tick? Maybe they are a moving metaphor for the constant struggle of life that all people can relate to. In this world it takes guts to follow your heart. I’m sure it takes guts to follow the heart of an artistic visionary as well.

We all know that it is the most difficult challenge to make your dreams come true. So think of how rewarding it must be to be one of those flittering dream-pursuers in tights and to hear, on a hard floor, the unmistakable sound of not only your dreams coming true, but also those of all the others around you.

In unison the music of your work comes pounding through. And it affects people for miles around you. Their cell-phone carrying breastplates are stirred by the same passion that you felt as a child when you dreamed up these realities. The audience becomes stricken with rapid-fire movement right in their seats.

The Times says of the dance troupe, “With high kicks and high energy, Trinity proved that Irish dancing can be both vibrantly entertaining and artistically satisfying without turning into a Vegas lounge act.”

I know that I hope to achieve this same sort of success in my life, for myself, and also for the audiences around me – the fellow human beings around the world – and most importantly, to do so without selling out, which, from the sounds of it, Trinity has managed to do. It is not the hundred-person Rose-Garden-type show that Riverdance is. It is not the copy-cat corporate co. that Lord of the Dance is. The Chicago Tribune compares these companies with Trinity saying it is like “Disney on Ice compared to the Bolshoi Ballet.”

All of a sudden I’m starting to see how this show could have less to do with trends, and more to do with the vision of one man who sought to bring a little culture back into our repetitive lives that seek rhythm, stories and most of all, an entertaining way to share these things with those around us.

Seeing beyond a trend and asking myself if a thing like this isn’t more of a movement, is one of those things I’m still trying to learn to do. I see how I could like this. Really, really like it.