An interview with Megan Burns of Irish Dublin Dance
By Ken DeLaat
f you’ve ever attended the wonderful Irish Music Festival hosted by our lakeshore neighbor to the west or found yourself snuggling up to a Guiness during open mike night at the Conklin watering hole Fenian’s back in the day, or perhaps spent a goodly amount of a certain St Pats Day at Flanagan's Irish Bar years ago resulting in some serious and extensive next day apologizing (but that’s perhaps a story for another time), you might have a bit of Hibernophile in you.
If so, the Dublin Irish Dance production of “Stepping Out” coming to the Dogwood is going to be right up your alley.
It is a very cool show using music, song and dance to spin an uplifting tale of the Irish immigrants and what they brought to America.
When leaving their beloved home to forge a new life in a new country the travelers could manage but few possessions. Most precious of these was the Celtic culture they carried with them. A culture infused with the beauty and power of the music and the rhythmic majesty of the dance.
“Stepping Out” tells their story.
We caught up with Megan Burns the lead singer of the troupe as their bus rumbled across the Poconos on the way to a show in Binghamton New York some 2 weeks into a 9 week tour.
Ms. Burns was a delight to interview as she kindly replied to a series of queries with her gentle Irish brogue projecting an avid enthusiasm for the show and her opportunity to travel across America..
How did you end up with the tour?
It was kind of a random thing, I uploaded videos of my singing to promote getting gigs at weddings and such and the tour director saw one and contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in touring America.
Of course I thought someone was joking around with me at first, because an offer like that would be an absolute dream, but once she finally got a hold of me and convinced me it was for real and we got the ball rolling.
So basically I ended up getting the part through social media and I’m so grateful for it.
What has surprised you about the tour?
Probably how much I am enjoying the things I thought I wouldn’t enjoy, like long bus trips and staying in different hotels and cities. It’s been exciting to see the countryside and to be performing in all these great venues in different cities.
I understand you spent time in Qatar teaching.
Yeah I’m a full time teacher and taught there for a year. It where I got my feet off the ground musically. I started a band there and we did a lot of gigs. When I came back home I wanted to continue with singing…. on the side of course, since teaching was my main job. I even sang the national anthem at Croke Park (largest stadium in Ireland) before a game.I just never thought I would ever get such an opportunity like this.
What was it like for you there?
Qatar was an amazing experience The Arabic culture is very intense not at all similar to our culture at home I had my knees and shoulders covered all the time to respect their religion and at 50 degrees Celsius (120 fahrenheit) it wasn’t always an easy thing to do, Once I adapted to their culture and it was a great learning opportunity for me.
And you play football?
Oh yeah, I do. It’s our national game. I’ve been known for that as well as my singing. I know we call it football but it’s different from your football though there are a lot of similarities.
Right, except we wear more pads
Yeah (laughing) I think yours is a bit more aggressive than ours
The show’s story is a history of Celtic music and dance and how it evolved when it came to this country. How does it feel to be a part of telling that story?
It is a massive part of our culture and a part that I was a bit blinded to before being in the show. What,has been great is after the performance we always stay around for a meet and greet with the audience many of whom have Irish ancestry and they are so proud of being Irish.
So many people find it uplifting because its their own story as well.
The Dogwood is a great venue and you’ll find the area surrounding it quite rural.
We love the rural areas. We were just discussing that if we were to come to America on holiday we’d probably not get to see the parts of the country we’re visiting. We’re getting to meet the real people of America on a much more intimate level. We like to interact and maybe go to the nearest pub or bar to meet people so this type of area is all the more better for us,
Why should people come?
This show is a story of immigration and leaving your homeland to cross over to another country but what’s special about it is though set in the 1900s it is so relevant today. It is beautifully expressed through song and dance and music and delivers such an important message.
We have fantastic musicians and dancers and there is just so much talent on the stage.
I don’t see how anything can be more Irish than the show we’re putting out for our audience.
Tickets are $25.00 for adults, $10 for children 18 and under and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
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