A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sneaky Steppers on touring, sneaking and advice for male Irish dancers

If you love Irish dance, you've probably heard of the Sneaky Steppers.  If you haven't, you are in for a real treat.   Over twenty innovative Irish dancers who tour the world as professional dancers have pooled their talents and creativity together.  The results:  sneaky stepping and Hammerstep, an eclectic blend of hiphop, tap and Irish dance. 

Jason Oremus and Chris Naish agreed to answer some questions I had about their projects and what it's like to be a male Irish dancer.  Thanks guys for setting an example for my own young boys who love Irish dance!

Check out the Sneaky Steppers on facebook and  YouTube.

Here's a sneak at the group's latest sneak-a postcard from Singapore:

How did you come up with the idea for Sneaky Steppers? Is it purely a promotion for your new show or an entity of its own?

Sneaky Steppers definitely started off as an entity of it's own. We were on tour with Riverdance on the farewell tour in the UK and there was a group of us that were really keen on starting a new project with a video blog or something along those lines. We had a meeting and brainstormed our ideas together and decided on making a video of us dancing in a public supermarket which we practiced in the venue that day. The result was 'Tesco Ambush', and the reaction from public bystanders and dancers through 'YouTube' inspired us to keep making new videos in each city we toured in.

Tell me, briefly, what is the mission of Sneaky Steppers and Hammerstep?

The basic mission of Sneaky Steppers is to ambush the public through dance. We provide fun-loving, free entertainment for the public to enjoy, drawing from a variety of popular activities, essentially ambushing the public through dance. Hammerstep however, is a stage concept that attempts to integrate Irish, Hip Hop and Tap dancing, highlighting similarities in the way they were developed, and how they responded to social and cultural issues at the time.

Who is involved in the project?

There is a small group of us that have been dedicated to the project from the start and 9 dancers who were part of the videos during the UK tour. Now though, we have had more than 30 dancers involved in our videos and Dance Jam events. The group are mostly Irish dancers but we also have Tap and Hip-hop dancers involved, we even had a flamenco dancer feature in our latest video in Singapore.

How is the project funded?

The project has been funded entirely by ourselves so far .. We are accepting any donations! ;)

How is it that you are able to film on location all over the world?

Well we are lucky enough to be full-time travelers with our job as professional dancers. Most of us have been touring with shows for a long time now so sometimes you feel like you've missed out on a lot of places to get sneaky. However things happen for a reason and we have an great final 'Riverdance' tour lined up now until April so we will be making the most of our new adventures across China, South Africa, Australia and beyond.

Are the sneak attacks spontaneous? Do the onlookers have any idea of what is going on?

No the onlookers don't have a clue what is going on, which is what makes it so much fun and even more of an adrenaline rush for us. They often look confused and shocked at what they are witnessing. Some people even look scared of us, but believe me that is not part of the Sneaky Steppers mission :p

How have the sneak attacks been received by those watching live, as well as those who watch them on the internet?

The public's reactions so far has been really positive. There is often a lot of interaction from the public after our ambush's, we had a great comment from an elderly lady in Bath who asked us "Are you boys doing this for a dare?" You can tell it leaves them intrigued as to what just happened and they usually go for there phones to take a quick picture or video of what they are seeing.

How did so many talented male dancers come together?

All the guys in our videos are professional dancers and have all been brought together through dance shows or other dancing projects. Some of us have known each other from when we used to be on the ID competitive circuit. It really is a small world when you think about how many professional Irish Dancers there are. We are now meeting all sorts of dancers with these new projects though so it's really intriguing who we will be meeting in the near future.

I see no female dancers. Will Hammerstep be solely male?

We didn't used to have females involved in the videos but this was never really intentional. We have had 7 female dancers in our videos now and there was 3 females in the most recent 'Hammerstep' gig in London.

As a male dancer, what obstacles have you had to overcome in the dance world?

We all have our individual stories of when we were younger going through school as dancers, but I don't think anyone has had a particularly bad experience. It's obviously natural for all male dancers to have been on the receiving end of some stick from kids at school, it's usually because they don't understand why you dance or because they are jealous of your achievements and of course the female attention! As far as the rest of the our lives, I think we all agree there have been more benefits than obstacles in life being male dancers, especially in this modern era.

Do you have any advice for my sons, ages 10 and 8, who Irish dance?

Stick with it. It has paid off for us time and time again. You can travel the world, make money and meet all kinds of exciting people. Irish dancing can open doors for you where you never thought possible. Also, dance like a man- with strength and confidence. That's really important

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