This story wreaks utter havok with my preconceived whiteboy notions of authenticity and taste:
With a student body that is 71 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black, Public School 59 does not seem an obvious home for a thriving Irish dance troupe. And when Caroline Duggan first arrived from Dublin at age 23 to try her hand as a New York City public school music teacher, it wasn’t. Many of her students had never heard of Ireland. Why, they wanted to know, did she talk funny?
Then, to stave off homesickness, Ms. Duggan hung a “Riverdance” poster in her fifth-floor classroom, and one thing led to another. The children pointed to a long-haired dancer on the poster and asked if it was her. No, she laughed, but I could show you a few steps. The impromptu lesson grew into a wildly popular after-school program and, for the first time last year, a trip to Ireland that still inspires dreamy looks among those lucky enough to go.
For years, Ana Sotomayor, 47, had tried to teach her son, Angel Perez, 11, the salsa moves she had learned growing up in Puerto Rico. For years, she recalled, he had shrugged her off, saying he didn’t like it and couldn’t do it.
But there Angel was, center stage, hands on his hips and baggy jeans flapping as he began a routine with a short solo.
“Every time I see him in a show I cry, because I’m very proud of him,” Ms. Sotomayor said. “He’s very shy, but then when I see him dance I see another Angel, very secure in what he’s doing. He’s very different.”
Who but the rankest scoundrel, the most heartless bastard, could snark on this? If you've seen Mad Hot Ballroom (or, like, ever set foot in a public school in the Bronx), you know how transformative these kinds of extracurriculars can be. And it's easy to imagine how Ireland might seem exotic and mysterious and appealing to kids who have had the good fortune to not have been mercilessly subjected to all manner of pseudo-Celtic kitsch for all their waking lives. And yeah, I'm sure all that high-stepping and kicking is awfully fun.
But sweet Christ, does it really have to be, you know, Riverdance?
Ach, forget I said that. It is what it is. Erin Go Braugh, aight?