San Francisco Celtic Dance Ensemble
GENRE: Dance Drama
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Brian Cleary
COMPANY MANAGER: Mary Rock
First Appearance in SF
Nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” for its
vegetation, Ireland consists of low plains surrounded by coastal mountains,
produce a mild climate and soft but frequent rainfall. Although inhabited
for nearly 9,000 years,
the Celts are thought to have colonized Ireland as
early as the 8th century BCE.
priestly class of ancient Celtic society was known as the Druids who
had both religious and social
influence. Not only priests, they were the
philosophers, teachers, scientists, lore-masters and
counselors to the kings,
and linked the polytheistic Celtic people to their many deities and
calendar. With the advent of Christianity, many traditional practices, such as
were given Christian interpretations. Celts and Druids left an
indelible mark on Irish customs,
music, language and dance.
also has a history of nomadic people called
Irish Travelers, who are
distinguished from settled communities by their language of Shelta and
unique customs. Writers trace these disputed people’s history back as early as
600 BCE when
metal workers traveled the countryside with their families and
were later joined by traveling
musicians and Druid priests displaced by
Christianity. They were noted tinkers, tinsmiths, and
flower vendors, and
considered great musicians and storytellers. Marriage was coveted, thus
match making process was central to their customs.
This piece, choreographed by
director, Brian Cleary, won the National Dance Drama Award at the 2005
Open Dance Championships in Dublin, Ireland. The San Francisco Celtic Dance
formed in 1988 to emphasize training adults in the Irish dance traditions.
In 1998, master Cleary’s
troupe was the first company outside of Ireland, and
the first American company, to win the Irish
Open Dance Championship.
TITLE OF PIECE: The Travelers Match
DANCERS: Coleen Dowling, Oscar J. Erickson, Marisa
Goldfine, Stephanie R. Graham, Ted Hildum, Elise Holland, Mary M.
Mc Donagh, Frank Mc
Donagh, Maureen Murphy, Marian O’Dowd, Michael Riemer,
Terry E. Ritts, Beth
The San Francisco Celtic Dance Ensemble presents a
inspired by the lore of the Irish Travelers. The Travelers Match
women just returning from market having sold their ribbons and
flowers to find a
matchmaker about to introduce a bride to a groom. The bargain
is set in the
traditional Shelta language, represented by the dancers’
percussive actions. The
groom is sent to meet the priest, while the women
attend to the bride. Part of
traditional dress, the women’s’ shawl, is a
practical garment with symbolic meaning.
At the dance’s conclusion, the groom
embraces his bride for the first time, and they
set off on their life’s journey
together as a couple.
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