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'An Irish Christmas' dances into Stockton

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Posted: Saturday, November 25, 2017 7:30 am

Ready to celebrate Christmas, Celtic-style? “An Irish Christmas” is step-dancing its way into Stockton — for one night only — to kick off the holiday season.

“We are craftsmen and craftswomen who carry the stories to the next generation through everyday events such as storytelling, song, music, dance and our daily rituals,” said Margaret O’Carroll, the show’s director and owner of Kerry Irish Productions. “Folk theatre is the protector, the interpreter, the narrator, the pulse, the heartbeat of these traditions.”

Led by “Riverdance” alumnus Scott Doherty, Connor Reider of “Celtic Fyre,” and Tyler Schwartz of “Gaelforce Dance” and “Magic of the Dance,” the award-winning dancers perform a number of Irish dances, accompanied by Celtic music and Christmas carols.

They are joined by musicians including vocalists Koral Aakre, Katherine Trimble and Ashley Stanbury, Isaac Alderson on Uilleann pipes, flute and whistles, Pat Broaders on Bouzouki, Bella Issakova on fiddle, and Jackie Moran on Bodhrán and banjo.

Dances celebrate traditional Irish crafts like show-making and butter churning.

Other traditions are dancing on the “half door,” a latch-free small door placed before the front door. The half door let in light, kept out animals, and allowed those inside the home to be involved with life outside while completing their daily chores.

Half doors could also become a small dance stage by simply removing it from its place and dropping it on the floor.

Another dance, “Lá an Dreoilín” or “The Day of the Wren,” will celebrate St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas. In the old days, the “Wrenboys” —the name is a misnomer, since girls and adults could join the fun — went from house to house in disguise, carrying a wren tied to a holly bush. They performed dances, sang songs and played music in exchange for a penny “to bury the wren.”

The Bodrhán Dance celebrates the rhythm of the dancers and the Irish drums at the same time, often becoming a dance off between the men and women in the troupe.

Enjoy Christmas hymns and carols like “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “The Carol of the Bells” as the dancers stomp out the sounds of the season and create a festive show.

The Kerry Dance Troupe and Kerry Irish Productions work to promote and celebrate Irish history, culture and storytelling through music and dance. They present a combination of Irish folk dance as well as modern Irish dance styles.

“It is extraordinary how closely connected we are to our past,” O’Carroll said. “We are a product of so much that came before us, and our traditions are part of that inheritance. There is a value to these traditions.”

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