Support the Irish Arts

As I was writing this blog post, the Gilmore Girls episode currently playing on my iPad, season 3 episode 7, referenced Riverdance. That is the best possible sign that today is a great day to support the Irish arts! Former Riverdance dancer Kincaid Stringer & his mother Shannon Kincaid, a painter, have teamed up for a great cause. They’re selling seven of Shannon’s paintings through Indiegogo for a COVID-19 relief fund; all proceeds will support Irish actors, artists, backstage workers & crews, clubs, concerts, cultural & event spaces, dancers, dance schools, festivals, musicians, performers, singers, theaters, & writers. I grew up dancing & singing so the arts are very important to me. Riverdance is the reason I asked my mom to sign me up for dance classes at the age of four so the Irish arts are also very important to me. Let’s not forget my Irish ancestors! 🇮🇪 The arts have done a lot for us in quarantine so it’s only right that we give back. You can choose to only donate money or receive a painting or two or seven in exchange for your donation. If it’s not already obvious, I’m buying “The Dancer.” Can’t wait to have a gorgeous Irish dancing queen above my bed! 👑 Please consider setting aside $25, or more, to support a great cause & get a piece of Ireland for your home. 💚🤍🧡

*NOTE: The Indiegogo campaign ends on September 17th, & the paintings will ship in November. Because of COVID-19, please consider that shipping could be delayed.

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Irish people’s love of dancing has been well documented throughout their written history. In fact, one of the earliest references to dancing details a visit between the Mayor of Waterford and Mayor of Baltimore in 1413. The modern Irish dancing of today is no longer merely a processional combination of singing and dancing as an act of celebrating, but a sport that produces athletes that are physically strong, as well as creative and artistic. What was once a tradition specific to Ireland (as well as England, Scotland, and some parts of America) caught like wildfire in 1994 with the debut of Riverdance. The theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance took the world by storm and has been a global phenomenon ever since. Now, twenty-five years later, the Irish dancing community consists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world today. Teachers from around the world have committed themselves to spreading their love and passion for Ireland’s traditional form of expression. Regardless of how far a dancer progresses competitively or professionally, being an Irish dancer is something that is inextricably bound to their identity forevermore. In this piece entitled “The Dancer,” you feel the excitement, the confidence, and the artistry that comes from expressing a centuries-old tradition that has touched the hearts of many.  – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland and Scotland combined have a rich culture within the performing arts, which has resulted in a thriving gig scene. Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries in order to create new and fresh work that is often steeped in tradition. Many are staunch believers that musical traditions must be preserved as they always have been – the “play it like my father used to” kind of sentimentality. Yet, every generation brings a new wave of talent that feels that this attitude discourages progress and evolution. This debate between tradition and innovation is a tale as old as time. Still, many feel it is possible to honour your origins while also exploring and adapting to the future; they are not mutually exclusive. Irish music legend, Míchéal Ó Súilleabháinn, believed that traditions are never frozen, but rather are fluid. He believed that the idea of authenticity originating from a pure source located in antiquity was bogus! This painting is for the new wave of artists and musicians who are creating some of the most incredible new-age folk / Trad music in the world. Project Smok, Beoga, Talisk, Ímar and the like are leading the way for the future of Irish music. – Kincaid & Shannon

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Ériu is the goddess of sovereignty and the mythological mother of Ireland. She is often interpreted as the modern-day personification of Ireland. Along with her two sisters, Banba and Fódhla, Ériu was a part of a triumvirate of goddesses. Before their final defeat, each goddess requested that the island be named for her. This was granted to all of them, but Ériu became the chief name in use. The old Irish name Ériu evolved into Éire in modern Irish and depending on the case is spelled Éireann or Éirinn. This is how we finally arrived with the English name for the country, Erin. The painting has been imbued with symbols to depict all that Ériu embodied within pre-Christian Irish culture. Ériu represents the sacred feminine, as illustrated in the column capitals, or the decorative element at the top of a column, that represent the three phases of a woman’s life cycle – the maid, mother and crone. The stars behind her and the lunala around her neck evoke her role as a lunar goddess. Her hair bleeds into the trees, depicting her connection to the earth and its bounty. She holds this bounty in her hand as a glass of mead, which was served at the feast of Goibhniu, and offered immortality to those that drank it. Around her head is a ring of knot work encasing the land, which is topped by the stone of divisions from the hill of Uisneach, the symbolic and sacred centre of the island in Irish mythology. Ériu’s bones are said to have been laid to rest on this hill and serves as a gateway between the Underworld and the world above. – Kincaid & Shannon

There is much more to an Irish pub than just having a drink. In Ireland, pubs are central to the way of life. Similar to a church, they represent a pillar of Irish social life and community. A place where pints, comfort food, live music, and sport can be always be found; somewhere you can meet friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers, in an inviting atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that recreations of Irish pubs can be found in any city around the world. O’Connor’s was opened as a pub in Galway in 1942 by Thomas O’Connor, and is currently operated by third generation O’Connors. Every inch of it decorated in eclectic memorabilia, the pub has become famous for its hospitality and world-class live music. So much so that Ed Sheeran used it as the location of his music video “Galway Girl” in 2017 featuring actress Saoirse Ronan, furthering the pub’s world-wide recognition. – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland has a rich tradition of various festivals taking place throughout each year. The Rose of Tralee was first held in 1959 and has since been held every August in Tralee, County Kerry, to select a young woman to be crowned the Rose. Cities all over the world host their own selection balls to determine who will represent them in Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the “aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage” of modern young women. Bursting with music and dancing, this festival celebrates the very best of Irish culture and the future of Irish relations worldwide. The winner and their family become a part of a global network, showcasing how Irish culture is thriving amongst the Irish Diaspora. They say, “Once a Rose, always a Rose.” – Kincaid & Shannon

A session is a casual gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, usually taking place in a pub, but has also been known to take place on street corners or even in someone’s kitchen. Irish “trad” music has garnered a deep appreciation, not just in Ireland, but also around the world. It’s important to note that a session is more than just a casual jam between musicians – the focus is on the instrumental tunes found within the Irish tradition – reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slip jigs, and the like. Whether it be in a pub or someone’s home, sessions are times of brilliant music and ever-flowing drink that have a certain habit of continuing late into the night, if not into the wee hours of the morning! – Kincaid & Shannon

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

These are just two quotes from one of the biggest literary personalities in Ireland’s history, Oscar Wilde. A literary treasure, Wilde was a hugely popular playwright and poet in the late 1800s. Besides well-known works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan, his biting wit and flamboyant style gained him notoriety as well. As a people, the Irish are known for their good sense of humour, which has bolstered them during periods of great hardship throughout history. Wilde embodied this intrinsically Irish trait to the very end. Even as he faced death, he was cracking jokes and reportedly said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” A collection of art in support of Irish culture would be incomplete without paying homage to Oscar Wilde. – Kincaid & Shannon

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAx8IE3PTk&feature=youtu.be

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

What’s Happened to the Theatre?

Art & Design Studios. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Restoration. John Milner Architects. Web. 8 June 2016. http://artanddesignstudio.com/Architectural-illustration-5.html.

Art & Design Studios. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Restoration. John Milner Architects. Web. 8 June 2016. http://artanddesignstudio.com/Architectural-illustration-5.html.

Back in March, my dad was kind enough to buy tickets to Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games featuring a special performance by Michael Flatley.  We did what we always do: dress up and eat at a nice restaurant before the show.  After arriving at the theater and finding our seats, I had time to people-watch.  Unfortunately, what I saw horrified me.  Attending the theater doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive clothing, but, out of respect for the cast and crew, you should look presentable.  It breaks my heart to say I saw more than one hoodie that night.  I rarely get to see theater performances therefore each and every time I go, it is a special occasion.  Theater is different from the cinema.  Movie theaters are set up for comfort, and the actors aren’t feeding off of spectators in person.  Theater performers prepare months in advance for live performances; when the time comes, they can see the audience and feed off of what they see.  Show them that you care!!

Other Lord of the Dance-Related Blog Posts:

• Dream Come True – https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/dream-come-true/

• Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games Review – https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/lord-of-the-dance-dangerous-games-review/

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– Lauren Michele <3

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We’re All in This Together

I can’t believe it!  Today is the ten year anniversary of “High School Musical.”  I just finished watching the cast reunion on Disney Channel.  I am so glad they maintained close relationships with one another.  I had a huge, goofy smile on my face listening to them reminisce.  HSM was a HUGE part of my childhood, and I want to take a trip down memory lane to share with you my most vivid memories.

1.  I don’t actually remember watching the premiere of HSM.  I may not have watched it on January 20th, but I discovered it soon after because I remember following the cast’s every move  and watching the premiere of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”

2.  I freaked out when the music video mentioned above premiered.  It was an extra song featured on the soundtrack but not in the movie.  I watched it to death!  It also fed my suspicion that “Zanessa” was real. 😍

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFB54wp41zo

3.  Seeing Zac Efron sing in the music video strengthened my belief that he sang in HSM.  He didn’t, but I believed and fought for him until the 2nd movie came out (he sang in the last 2 movies).  I’ve learned to live with it. 😂

4.  I might as well follow #3 with the fact that Zac Efron was a 2000s heartthrob featured in Bop, J-14, M, Tiger Beat, etc.  Yes, I did have posters of him on my wall, but I also had posters of the other cast members.  No shame. ;)

5.  I believe this happened in either 2009 or 2010, but me and my dance friends put together a big sleepover complete with food, games, and a “High School Musical” marathon.  There was a lot of squealing, laughing, singing, and crying.

6.  Every time we did jazz squares in dance class, me and my friend Katie would look at each other and quote: “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Every time without fail!!  Nailed it.

6.  Up until 2010 (the big bad Zanessa breakup), I followed the cast’s every move.  They were the BIG Disney celebrities of the 2000s.  I wouldn’t say I was obsessed, just genuinely curious and in awe.  I think every young girl goes through that phase.  I looked at every publicity photo, listened to every solo and group song, and read every magazine.  I also want to clear up that the breakup wasn’t the reason I lost interest.  I still look up the cast from time to time, but everybody grows up and leaves behind the things of childhood.

Favorite Character:  Gabriella Montez

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4lv9xVA3Tk

Favorite Scene:  The very first scene featuring “Start of Something.”  That moment started the whole HSM phenomenon.

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6EOUaWscrE

Favorite Song:  “Breaking Free”

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLa__49Ltv4

Favorite Quote:  “It’s a crowd favorite.  Everybody loves a good jazz square.”  Also, everything Ms. Darbus says.

Only Ms. Darbus could pull off these quotes:

*Chad is playing with a basketball at his desk*  “Mr. Danforth! This is a place of learning, not a hockey arena.”

“Holidays are over people.  Way over!!”

“This school is about more than just young men in baggy shorts flinging balls for touchdowns.”

“The theatre is a chapel of arts, a precious cornucopia of creative energy.”

“It’s called crime and punishment, Bolton. Beside, proximity to the arts is cleansing for the soul.”

Say it loud, say it proud:

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

What team?  Wildcats!

Wildcats!  GETCHA HEAD IN THE GAME!!!!!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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