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The jig is on: ‘An Irish Christmas’ will showcase an evening of music, song and dance

The jig is on: ‘An Irish Christmas’ will showcase an evening of music, song and dance
Following last year’s sold out performance, “An Irish Christmas” will feature an award-winning cast of Irish dancers, led by world champions Scott Doherty and Tyler Schwartz, in a night of Irish traditional music celebrating the holiday season. (Courtesy of Kerry Irish Productions)

‘Let me tell you how to do a leap,” the Irish step dancer said. “You lift your body off the ground, hang in the air for a bit and then land on one leg.”

Keara Osborne, 32, explained the athletic form of Irish dance moves, crediting active stretching, cardio workouts and a jump rope for her ability to put her best feet forward.

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All the muscle-building and exercise training since the age of 6 has prepared Osborne for her life as an Irish step dancer, in which she has regularly toured with bands including the Young Dubliners and the Fenians and has made television and music video appearances.

Though she has retired from competition, Osborne continues to perform in groups and she is dance director at Kerry Dance Troupe.

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She will showcase her skills Nov. 27 at Irvine Barclay Theatre during an upcoming performance of “An Irish Christmas,” a celebration of Irish traditional music and storytelling presented by Kerry Irish Productions.

Osborne will join an award-winning cast of Irish dancers, led by world champions Scott Doherty and Tyler Schwartz, for live-performances of “Silent Night,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Carol of the Bells.”

“There’s so much substance to Irish culture,” Osborne said. “There’s such a deep-rooted history of family, religion and influence and we try to blend all the magical feelings through our rich song and dance.”

One such tradition is dancing on a half-door.

The piece of wood became a stage in Irish social life where friends and family would remove it from its position and drop it to the floor where a dance challenge was delivered.

In Irish folklore, it is said a good dancer could dance on a tray and an excellent dancer could dance on a half-penny, but the best dancers danced underneath themselves, trapping each note of music on the floor, and as each dancer attempted to outdo the other, the more intricate the steps would be.

The dance-off will happen during the Nov. 27 show.

“It’s a friendly competition,” Osborne said. “We want the audience to wonder, ‘Who can dance on that compact space the longest?’ It’s all in good fun.”

“An Irish Christmas” will highlight top-tier Irish dancers, including Doherty, the 2009 men’s world champion of Irish dance who has toured with both Riverdance and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.

Doherty has been a guest performer with many acclaimed Irish acts, including the Irish Tenors, Cherish the Ladies, Michael Londra and Andy Cooney.

Schwartz, lead dancer of Kerry Dance Troupe, capped off his competitive Irish dancing career winning the Senior Men’s World Championship in 2013.

Osborne said the show is a way to share the growing subculture of dance with younger members of the ensemble and audience.

“When I started, this was not a well-known form of dancing,” Osborne said. “Now, it’s become a fascinating blend of traditional steps with modern pieces. We are very pleased to showcase our history and heritage.”

If You Go

What: “An Irish Christmas”

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 27

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive

Cost: $36 to $75

Information: (949) 854-4646 or thebarclay.org.

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