Up and Over It is the Irish dance sensation that has spread into a mainstream youtube phenomenon. They were featured on America’s Got Talent and were in a McDonald’s commercial! You know you’ve made it when you’re in a McDonald’s commercial! Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding are taking Irish dance to the next level and I absolutely love it.
I’ve always been so inspired by their work. They are so much more than just hand dancers. They’re former Riverdance members and are doing novel things with Irish dance. They play it on the risque edge, testing limits of Irish dance culture. Here’s a great article on Up and Over It for more background on the duo. One of the boldest numbers is a rap questioning what the traditional Irish dance career really is at the end of the day. One of my favorite lines: “Sold my soul for a reel and got some dodgy shins.” It can feel like that sometimes! Check it out here:
Their most recent video, launched this past week, features highlights from their media coverage as well as a brand new hand dancing video! They’re dressed as burnt out show dancers that have definitely seen better days. It’s a stark contrast to what we’re used to see from show dancers and the contrast between their falling apart appearance and the crispness of their choreography is genius. Check out Hands:
Be sure to check out the rest of their videos on youtube. They have a live show that I would kill to go to. Just like Noctu, they’re pushing the boundaries of Irish dance and showing that we can do more than dance in a line.
As seen in Hands and Chav Rap, Up and Over It uses a much different costuming style than usual Irish dance shows! Costumes range from shutter shades to a suit and tie. All of the costumes are designed to change the common perceptions of what Irish dance is. All the costumes are eye catching and very purposefully done. This is my personal favorite outfit, out of Chav Ballerinas:
So, inspired by their wonderful sense of style and creativity, here are some outfits for your every day wear, feis wear and show wear!
Every Day Outfit:
This outfit is inspired by the outfit featured in one of their first hand dancing videos. The pair plays a frustrated couple taking their frustration out via hand dancing. Suzanne wears a very polished dress, but the video shows the frays underneath the polished image. This outfit takes a polished dress and pairs it with tough boots for a similar contrast. Added plus – lace up boots are very on trend for this fall! Finish the outfit with a ghillie necklace for a subtle nod to Irish dance.
This dress (a collaboration between Taoknitter Arts and Maureen Duffy) gives a nod to traditional knotwork and Irish dance culture while going in a completely different direction from previous dresses. I really think that’s key to a successful development of any aspect of Irish dance – give acknowledgement to the traditional while developing it in previously unexplored ways. Up and Over It does this in their shows and its a key reason why they’re doing so well both in the Irish dance community and outside of it.
Finally, there are so many ways to be inspired by Up and Over It for your shows! While I wouldn’t go as far as they do with some of their costumes, you can take elements and use them to great effect. Here are some ideas:
1. Wear bright colored tights with a black/simple outfit and pair them with ghillies laced with brightly colored ribbons! An unexpected look that is still somewhat traditional.
2. Wear everyday outfits to create a casual contrast to our very rigid dancing. Pair a sundress with tights for a casual show look that you can still dance in. Jeans work very well for this as well.
3. Use non-traditional music for treble reels. Do traditional dancing to non-traditional music. Pop songs are almost always 4/4 timing and can be used for treble reels. The contrast is unexpected and always gets a great result. Just remember your audience! Rocking out to Ke$ha in a traditional Irish dance festival might not get the best response.
And of course, make your own hand dancing routines! Here are some videos of Irish dancers who have taken a stab at the hand dancing phenomenon!
What do you think of Up and Over It? Have you tried making a hand dancing routine? Are you inspired by their videos or style?
Stay Fashionable, Feisers!