Jackie O'Riley and Rebecca McGowan are a duet specializing in old-style traditional Irish dance. Originally drawn to the grace, musicality, and subtlety of older steps, they have been dancing and creating together for the past 10 years. Jackie and Rebecca have developed a unique way of dancing in close unison that magnifies the detail of traditional rhythm and footwork.
Jackie O'Riley spent her formative dance years in the Irish set dancing community in Boston, MA. Over the past decade and a half, she has ardently sought out old-style or traditional step dancing, sean-nós dance, and set dancing and is now a respected performer and teacher, with a unique repertoire that includes older steps she’s collected from masters and field footage, and original material she’s composed. Jackie performs and teaches in the US, Canada, and Ireland, was an original member of the touring sean-nós dance show Atlantic Steps, and in 2018 performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin as part of Na Píobairí Uilleann's production, "The Sound of Ireland". She founded, directs, and teaches O’Riley Irish Dance, a unique, non-competitive dance program for kids and teens now in its 10th year, and is the co-recipient of a 2017 grant for choreographers through the Boston Foundation. Above all, she believes in prioritizing musicality in dancing, being a part of the wider musical and traditional community, and maintaining the joy that drew her to the tradition in the first place.
From Boston, Rebecca McGowan is a dancer and teacher of Irish dance. With a strong foundation in traditional step dancing, her dancing also draws on the musicality of older-style and sean-nós dance, the grace of soft shoe, and the joy of American and Irish social dance and music traditions. As a child she began dancing with Clare Sullivan and later studied with Kieran Jordan and the Culkin School. Rebecca performs with duet partner Jackie O’Riley, with her contemporary step dance company Rising Step, and in Kieran Jordan Dance. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, in WGBH’s “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” and at numerous festivals in the Boston and Washington areas. Her work has been supported by a Catalysts residency at the Dance Complex, a Somerville Artist Fellowship, the Boston Foundation, NEFA, and local cultural councils. Rebecca has been on the faculty of the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Pinewoods Camp, and CCE MAD Week, and directs a non-competitive step dancing program for all ages in the Boston area.
One of the foremost exponents of the Concertina and Button Accordion in the Irish style, Christian Stevens has spent two decades surrounded by the thriving Irish music community in America. In 2017, he was named a Master musician by the Maine Arts Commission, receiving an Artist Fellowship. He is a talented performer with a unique style, and has been featured on many recordings and stages from local dance halls to the Library of Congress.