Poised for Greatness:
Trinity Irish Dance Company Returns to Chicago!
Everything you expect, but like nothing you’d imagine. An ethnic art form redefined through dances that will transport, inspire, and leave you feeling whole. That’s what Chicago’s Trinity Irish Dance Company has to offer.
After decades of commercial Irish dance productions, a determined breath of fresh air has re-emerged: the Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC), a Chicago-born Irish-Ameri- can company that is creating new traditions.
Blessed with inventive drive and a progressive vision, TIDC has been revitalized in recent years thanks to a number of powerful and gifted artists. By challenging the status quo and the traditional idea of what people might imagine of when they think of Irish dancing, the company’s approach resonates with audiences and critics worldwide – they are ambitious rebels with a cause.
TIDC was founded in 1990 by creative force and Emmy Award-winning choreographer Mark Howard. Born in Yorkshire, England to Irish parents, Howard trained as a child in Chicago church basements and banquet halls un- der the legendary Irish dance teachers Marge and Den- nis Dennehy. Howard, who was teaching his own students by the age 17 while studying at St. Ignatius College Prep, eventually founded his own dance school, which con- tinues to flourish as a Chicago institution. A year after graduating from Loyola University, Howard coached his dancers to win America’s first world team championship. His school would continue to push boundaries and break multiple records, and by 27, Howard was appearing annually as a special guest on Johnny Carson’s To- night Show. He choreographed for film, television, theater, and international festivals, and eventually made the transition to the performing arts stage.
Howard’s original dance genre, known as “progressive Irish dance,” has drawn an A-list cast of 20 dancers from throughout North America, led by recently-named Asso- ciate Artistic Director Chelsea Hoy and Artistic Associates Ali Doughty, MacKenzie Holland, and Marissa Wurster. To- day, Howard focuses his efforts on passing on his unique style and ethos to his company members.
Despite their significant legacy, TIDC’s glory days seem to
Mark Howard be ahead of them. They were recently named the #1 dance act by the Boston Globe, and this past summer, they sold out a three-week tour of Japan. The company’s clear message of female empowerment is making an impact, as commended by Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times, who noted that the company dances “as if on the women’s terms,” and the Boston Globe, where it was stated that the women of the company truly “make the form their own.” Through a unique blend of uncompromising power and grace, TIDC is gaining ground in the fight for gender equity, consistently presenting men and women on equal footing in its dances.
Most importantly, they are creating groundbreaking repertoire with an energy as potent as ever, developing ten impressive works within the past four years. One of Howard’s recent pieces, Soles, was previewed at Tokyo’s renowned Orchard Hall and world premiered at New York’s Joyce Theater to high acclaim. Soles is a quintessential TIDC creation: minimalist and smart in all of its honest rhythms.
“On some level, we’re on a mission to save Irish dance from the circus it can sometimes be,” says Howard. This sentiment provided the inspiration for the company’s newest work, An Sorcas (Gaelic for “The Circus”), which the company will premiere at the Auditorium Theatre on February 2.
An electric and colorful collaboration between Howard, Hoy, and company member Michael Gardiner, An Sorcasexamines the battle between substance and spectacle. In line with the notion that society’s emphasis on commercialism is backwards, An Sorcas opens with the
full ensemble bowing and dancing backwards. Original lyrics, music, and layers of symbolism make An SorcasTIDC’s most ambitious piece to date.
“We’ve taken the glitz and glam of the Irish dance world and repurposed it for the performing arts stage,” Hoy says. “It’s a piece that begins with idolatry and progresses towards empathy. Halfway through the piece, we shed jackets made from deconstructed flashy Irish dance dresses to reveal an understated, hopeful company.”
With the seasoned Howard at the helm, TIDC’s artists will always be encouraged by a friendly pressure and an unwavering loyalty to his craft.
“[Mark] is an unusual mix of intense competitive coach and inspirational Artistic Director,” says Artistic Associate Mackenzie Holland.
With a smile, Holland recalls that Howard’s motivational pre-curtain talks on the company’s recent Japan tour ranged “from sharing an emotional story about a tearful single mom who credited our performance with changing her six-year-old daughter’s life in two hours to telling us that the only way off the island is either [through] an inspired performance or in body bags.”
So where is Trinity and its new generation of dancers headed next? If you ask Howard, he says, “Everything about them is extraordinary. The scope of their work, their virtuosity, and the ease with which they command a stage. Their honesty and commitment allows them to reach out, grab the hearts of audiences, and take them anywhere they want to go. They are poised for greatness...And they are just getting started.”
While we know many of you have already purchased tickets for TIDC’s Auditorium Theatre….we are determined to try to get every last Trinity family to the show… because the ENTIRE Trinity family should have the opportunity to be inspired by TIDC’s work and mission.
Tickets would be a great CHRISTMAS GIFT to your dancer(s) or family….Tickets are as low as 26.00 with our 10% discount code. Early ticket sales are brisk and good seats are being snatched up!
Please also consider coming to the Booster Club’s TEACHER PIZZA PARTY before the show.