Irish stepdancers give their age-old artform a welcomed refresh

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When dancers from Northern Ireland traded in the traditional tin whistles of Irish stepdance music for Ke$ha, everyone – including famed talent judge Simon Cowell – took notice.

“I absolutely loved that,” Cowell said. “This is why I wanted to come to Belfast. It was terrific.”

The video of the Portstewart troupe’s “Britain’s Got Talent” performance, now available on YouTube, shows young dancers with quite a history of their own incorporating modern moves and music into the Irish traditional genre. The girls, who according to the Innova Irish Dance Company website range in age from 15 to 23 years old, have danced together since they were young children.

According to a BBC article by Catherine Smith, there is still some disagreement of exactly how far back you can trace stepdancing’s roots in Irish history. “It is believed that the story begins thousands of years ago,” Smith reported. “There is reference to Irish dancing in Ireland’s cultural history throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.”

It’s probably a safe bet that those dancers never imagined their steps would evolve into a talent show hit earning a standing ovation by dancing to music by a group called LMFAO.

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