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MICHAEL TUBRIDY - A Selection Of Irish Traditional Step Dances 

MICHAEL TUBRIDY - A Selection Of Irish Traditional Step Dances 
Brooks Academy, Dublin  ISBN: 9781527220607 

This is fascinating.  This book updates and revises the similarly-named book of nine dances published in 1998 and adds a second volume of nine dances. It also contains two videos and retails at less than the current cost of buying the original 1998 version (if you can find it!).

This concerns the old style of Irish step dancing – not the newer, Gaelic-league inspired version which reached its apogee (at least as far as the general public is concerned) with Riverdance. No high kicks or travelling around the room here! The material derives mostly from two traditional dancing masters, Dan Furey and James Keane from Labasheeda, Co. Clare, as well as others (including Michael’s wife Céline) and is covered thoroughly. It does this by using a cunningly contrived system of notating using representations of foot position.  This takes a few minutes to get to grips with, but works very well and dancers, once having mastered the steps, will find it a useful aide-memoire. Tune notations and explanations are also included.  Not only that, but the book comes with 2 DVDs, each of which contains a film of the dance being performed – once at a slow speed, to allow for study and getting to grips with the steps, and then a second performance at performance speed, with spoken guidance.  The dances are all accompanied by the wonderful stately, stylish playing of Michael’s flute.

Many of these steps have a common ancestry with other step dances in the UK – English step dancers will find much of this material chimes with which they are familiar, although the repertoire is more extensive and varied.  This is likely to remain the standard reference for this material for the foreseeable future and we are lucky that it has been done superbly.

Paul Burgess

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