The Irish Music and Dance Association’s 2019 “Cross-Cultural Challenge"
The IMDA sponsors and organizes two full days of Irish entertainment at the Landmark Center in St. Paul every March. In 2019, these activities will include a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Saturday, March 16, and a Day of Irish Dance on Sunday, March 17. The IMDA has presented activities of this kind at the Landmark Center for 38 consecutive years.
In March of 2018, the IMDA added a new cross-cultural component to its programming for its Landmark Center activities on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The IMDA did so, in part, because immigration and diversity are topics that had been receiving (and continue to receive) an increasing amount of attention, not all of which has been positive or progressive. From the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, Irish immigrants frequently encountered prejudice and discrimination as they attempted to adapt to American culture and society. Now, all too often, their ancestors are seeing other races and ethnicities being treated in a similarly inhospitable manner.
The IMDA believes that exposure to the music, dance and customs of ethnic groups other than one’s own can help bridge gaps, foster understanding and promote mutual respect. To that end, the IMDA is hereby challenging Irish and non-Irish organizations alike to seek out and collaborate with one another in order to create a “performance piece” that can be presented on the Main Stage and/or in the Weyerhaeuser Auditorium at the Landmark Center on March 16 and/or March 17, 2019.
Here are the details:
Written proposals regarding joint cross-cultural performance pieces will be accepted via email by the IMDA through 5:00 pm on November 9, 2018. Each proposal should identify one or two principal contact persons, and include the name, mailing address, email address, and phone number for each such person. Proposals (and questions, if any, about proposal requirements) should be sent to email@example.com.
Each proposal must involve (a) at least one local person or group that performs primarily Irish music or dance and (b) at least one local person or group that performs primarily “non-Irish” music or dance, especially that of an American ethnic minority or an ethnicity from a South American, African, Arabic or Asian country or culture. (Non-Irish individuals/groups that are seeking potential “co-proposal partners” from the local Irish-American community are encouraged to consult the directory that can be found at http://www.irishmusicanddanceassociation.org/resources.html, especially the “Irish Dance Performance Groups,” “Irish Dance Schools” and “Irish Musicians” sections thereof.)
Each proposal must describe or explain what each participant (or participant group) will do as part of the joint performance piece. A performance can be entirely dance-based, entirely music-based (vocal and/or instrumental), or a combination of both.
Preference will be given to proposals that creatively integrate the music and/or dance of the different countries or cultures presented, as opposed to separating them into independent and/or unrelated performances.
The proposed performance piece must be between 15 and 30 minutes long.
The IMDA will review all proposals and select the winning proposal by November 16, 2018. The IMDA reserves the right to contact any proposer to seek additional information. The IMDA also reserves the right to not select a winning proposal if the IMDA determines that no proposal will adequately achieve its cross-cultural objectives.
The IMDA will provide a minimum of two opportunities to present the winning performance piece on one or more the IMDA’s stages at the Landmark Center on March 16 and/or March 17, 2019.
The IMDA will pay an honorarium of $1000 (total, for all performances) to the parties participating in the selected performance piece, to be divided among and between the participants in whatever manner is mutually acceptable to them.
A look at the 2018 IMDA Cross-Cultural Collaborations
Audience members at the IMDA’s Landmark Center events on March 17 and March 18 had the pleasure of seeing two engaging cross-cultural performances, each of which involved crowd-pleasing collaborations between local Irish musicians and dancers and their counterparts from “non-Irish” cultural/artistic organizations.
Andale Juana's San Patricio Presentation with Norah Rendell
Bollywood Dance Scene collaboration with O'Shea Irish Dance
On Saturday, March 17, a Twin Cities-based trio of Mexican folk musicians (“Andale Juana”) were joined by Norah Rendell (Executive Director of the Center for Irish Music) to present a performance created by "Border CrosSing," a non-profit organization (composed primarily of individuals of Latin American descent or origin) that was formed “with the mission of integrating historically segregated audiences, repertoires, and artists." This joint musical endeavor was (quite fittingly, given its St. Patrick’s Day performance date) based on the story of the Saint Patrick's Battalion (the "San Patricios"), a group of primarily Irish immigrant soldiers who left the American army in 1846 to fight for the Mexican side during the Mexican-American War. Andale Juana, accompanied by Norah on flute, performed (in Spanish) several traditional Mexican "sones" (songs), the original lyrics of which were re-written to tell the story of the San Patricios. Explanatory narration was provided by Border CrosSing’s Artistic Director, Ahmed Anzaldúa. The musicians were joined by dancers from O’Shea Irish Dance for one number!
On Sunday, March 18, Landmark Center audiences were treated to a collaboration between a prominent local Irish dance school (O'Shea Irish Dance) and dancers from a group known as the "Bollywood Dance Scene." The stated mission of Bollywood Dance scene is to "...celebrate cultural diversity and social harmony...through the joyful social medium of dance...and related South Asian cultural traditions." The O’Shea and Bollywood groups created integrated choreography to recorded Indian music in various styles of Irish and Indian dance, involving ten dancers or more from each organization, with culturally appropriate and exciting costuming. O’Shea’s Irish dancers learned Bollywood choreography, which resulted in sequences during which all dancers performed the same style of dance together. The joint choreography also experimented with Indian dance styles set to Irish music.
The Irish Music and Dance Association is a 501(c)(3) organization.