Freshman participates in artistic and cultural style of dance


Emily Larson

Since the age of ten, Desmond has been a part of the Corda Mor Irish Dance Company.

Irish jigs play in the background while twenty young girls bob up and down on their toes to the beat of the music. Their curly wigs bouncing with every step, hands at their sides, and legs kicking and pointing to the resounding bagpipes. “An ideal Irish Dancer has steel legs, impeccable posture, an expensive custom dress, a giant wig and shows the perfect contrast of grace and aggression on and off the stage,” freshman Kasey Desmond said.

Desmond first started Irish dancing when she was ten years old, mostly because of her parents’ persistence and interest in it, not necessarily because of her own passion for dancing. “I didn’t want to dance at first, but my dad had a friend from college who had a daughter that did it, and my mom thought it was cool. I hated it at first, but now I love it,” Desmond said.

Irish dancing has become a passion Desmond’s life, and part of the reason she loves it so much is that it comes with a background all of its own, dating back centuries. “The reason that they don’t use hands while dancing is because when the British took over Ireland, the Irish weren’t allowed to dance, so when the British looked in the windows and people Irish danced, they couldn’t see their arms moving, making it look like they weren’t dancing at all,” Desmond said.

There are numerous memories Desmond has experienced throughout her dancing career, but one particularly stands out in her mind. “One time I brought my friend to a competition, and if you get to a certain level then you get to upgrade to a different dress, and I upgraded at the competition she came to. I got to update to the glitzy solo dress and no longer the plain one,” Desmond said.

Most people that Irish dance start at a very young age, so when Desmond started at Corda Mor Irish Dance Company, she was one of the oldest children in her class. Now a freshman at BSM, Desmond continues to dance with younger girls. “When I started dancing, I was ten years old when the other girls in class were only six, and now I dance with twelve [and] thirteen year olds,” Desmond said.

Because she Irish dances, Desmond feels a part of a unique community that not everyone has the chance to be a part of. “In Irish dance, you are held not only to the physical standards of a sport and the visual standards of an art, but you are held to the cultural standards that come with being a member of this community,” Desmond said.

Desmond participates in about ten Irish Dancing competitions annually. “I Irish dance because it’s what I’ve always done, and I love it. You get to be in a part of a community that not everyone knows exists. There is just a whole world that no one knows about that is Irish Dancing. I definitely feel closer to my heritage and culture because I dance,” Desmond said.

Depending on different levels and areas of competition, an Irish dancer has the unique chance to participate in many events with other dancers from around the world. “Because of Irish Dancing, I have friends from all around the globe. Even though I personally do not compete internationally, I know girls that have reached a certain level who have the chance to compete around the world. They can meet new people from all over the world and in Ireland; I really feel like a part of a bigger community because of Irish Dancing,” Desmond said.

Other than having the opportunity to compete against people from all over the world, Desmond feels that she has made close connections to those she dances with, which can make the competition more difficult. “The sport is more personal than others in the respect that you know the people you are competing against, but this can’t make you any less competitive. You have to try and crush someone one minute and then tell them they did a good job and you hope they win the next,” Desmond said.

Irish dancing has been a cultural and artistic dance form for centuries. Now, Irish dancing has evolved into a modern dance phenomenon for those that are a part of this exclusive community. “Think of it as a combination of Dance Moms, Mean Girls and Stick It. It’s crazy, and that’s exactly why I dance,” Desmond said.