The Step Collective
The Step Collective is a project founded by dancer, fiddler, and ethnochoreologist, Danielle Enblom. Communities across Ireland, Scotland, France, England, Wales, Canada, Appalachia, and the Caribbean have dance and music forms with shared roots, and this is a space where Danielle hopes musicians, dancers, learners, and enthusiasts can connect, share, and learn.
'traditional percussive dance' & 'North Atlantic traditions'
These are two imperfect classifications for dance forms (and subsequently music forms) that are related to each other in a number of ways. Because of human migration and movements across Europe and the Americas, folks from different cultures shared and learned dance and music forms from each other. This resulting in traditions and practices that are uniquely specific to localities and communities, rooted in local origins, which also embody many shared characteristics. So - because of the pop culture of the time, colonial conquests, immigration, and political relationships, the Quadrilles and Cotillions developed and danced in the French Courts have many similarities to social dance forms found (historically and/or presently) in Ireland, Scotland, England, Quebec, Appalachia, and the Caribbean, all of which are danced in squares! Similarly, dance forms that are percussive, i.e. Irish step dance, American tap dance, and Appalachian flatfooting also have shared origins, although each very much has its own history. Irish dance was strongly influenced by Colonial dance masters, tap dance is very much a Black art form, that had influence from Irish immigrants in NYC, and flatfooting (like many of the Canadian dance forms) has notable Scottish influence.
Though Danielle's ancestral roots lie in Métis and Quebecois dance and music, she grew up with Irish music in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. With an interest in movement and somatics, Danielle has studied dance forms from ballet to contact improvisation, though her central practice has always been dance forms related to Irish dance. She spent a few years in Tralee and Belfast working on an M.A. by research and these on dance traditions in the Southwest of Ireland which also focused on the cross-cultural origins and influence of dance in Ireland. As an adult, Danielle learned that her Canadian grandparents had also grown up in similar music and dance communities, with her French Canadian great grandparents dancing in Quebec, and her Métis great grandparents playing music in Manitoba, which has sparked a special interest in Canadian dance and music forms.
a note from Danielle
Hey there! Thank you for being here! I'm here because traditional music and dance have been a central part of my life from childhood, and I've always loved the connection and community I've found in these spaces. As an adult, music and dance has brought me all over the world, and at times, I've found the internet to be just the right place to stay connected when geography or other life-circumstances make connecting difficult.
I grew up with a thriving Irish community in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota where I learned to dance and play music first hand from local musicians, musicians passing through, and at sessions and ceilís.
Then, in college, I spent time in Ireland where I connected with some folks who shared some of the older traditions with her, which weren't easily googled back then! I will be the first to tell you that the essence of these traditions are in face to face, foot to foot, fiddle to fiddle connections. Some of us are so fortunate to have the right geography or means to connect with these traditions in real life, and some of us might only get to connect with these aspects of community once or a few times a year when artists come through, or when we can make it to a festival. For the in-between times, I think the World Wide Web is a wonderful resource! Here we can stay connected, keep up our practices, find new ideas, and even find community! I'm not exactly sure where The Step Collective will lead, but my hopes are that it will be able to enrich our practices; expand our understanding of culture, community, and identity; and provide avenues for artists, learners, and audiences to connect.
contribute to the artists and production
Artists have spent a lifetime honing a craft and perfecting it to share it with others. Whether they have made a career out of it, or music and dance exist as a pastime for them, I am committed to finding ways to compensate artists for their time and expertise so they can sustain their work and existence. Your contributions help make this possible. Please consider donating to The Step Collective and Tradicle Patreon Fund which covers the cost of production and maintenance,and also goes directly to the artists featured here. From contributions as low as $2/month, it is easy to support this project. In addition to supporting artists, your support also allows much of The Step Collective's content to be free to the public and available to anyone with access to a computer and wifi.
equity, race, and colonialism
Many of the traditions you'll find here have roots in or relationships to colonization, forced migration, and slavery. The Step Collective is currently exploring what it means to participate in spaces with historical and continued racism and inequities in a way that is not only respectful and responsible, but also contributes to reparation and more equitable spaces for the arts and artists. Please stay tuned for updated values and policies, and of course, join the mailing list if staying up to date with all of this interests you!