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Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

A Step in Time: The Story of Irish Dance

A Step in Time The exhibition charts the history of Irish Dance from the late 1800s to present day, through costume, embroidery, images and film.

Fri 27 Jun 2014 - Sun 05 Nov 2017

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Irish Dance has evolved over the last 300 years into a distinctive style enjoyed by performers of all ages and backgrounds, worldwide. 

From the itinerant dance masters of the 1800s to today’s ‘masters of dance’ there is a rich and colourful story to be told. The exhibition is arranged in eight sections and tells the story of Irish Dance in almost 100 objects, ranging in date from a medieval brooch, to a contemporary diamante embroidered costume for solo competition. 

The exhibition includes reference to the 1904 Feis in the Glens of Antrim, a landmark event in Ulster’s recent cultural history, with competition in music, drama, craft work and dance. 

Embroidered costumes, medals and certificates will tell the story of the development of both dance schools and governing bodies for Irish Dance. The exhibition will display, for the first time, a selection from the museum’s collection of costume for the Patricia Mulholland Ballet. Patricia Mulholland was one of Ireland’s most talented choreographers, performers and teachers of Irish Dance, for almost 50 years from the late 1940s. 

The global phenomenon that was, and is, Riverdance will be interpreted in the gallery through dance costumes and film footage of the breath-taking 1994 Eurovision interval performance.