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Image / Editorial

Irish dancing TikTok star: ‘Those few negative comments don’t represent the whole of Ireland’


by Eva Hall
05th May 2020
Irish dancing TikTok star: ‘Those few negative comments don’t represent the whole of Ireland’

When a young woman uploaded a video of a sport she’s been practicing since she was a child, she wasn’t expecting the flurry of attention it brought – both positive and negative. Eva Hall caught up with Irish dancing TikTok star, Morgan Elizabeth


Like the rest of the world, trainee teacher Morgan Elizabeth was looking for distractions while in quarantine over the last few weeks. She turned to video-making app TikTok, and uploaded her Irish dancing videos with accompanying hip-hop music.

One particular video that Morgan shared on her Twitter page, in which she is Irish dancing to the song Savage by Megan Thee Stallion, has been viewed more than 200,000 times in 24 hours.

“I was dancing my whole life. At 10-years-old I went to a dance recital and the school that I danced for had Irish dancers. When I saw them it was something different,” Morgan told IMAGE.

Aged 20 and from Virginia in the US, Morgan has been dancing since she was three-years-old.

After initially taking up ballet, tap and jazz, she “fell in love” with Irish dancing after watching a dance recital as a child.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

tis the szn

A post shared by @ morgvn.elizabeth on

“I always had long legs as a child so I was told I might be good at it. I did a lot better than I expected at my first competition so I just kept with it. I quit everything else and fell in love with Irish dancing. It just became my life.”

 

As her TikTok video gained views, it also gained comments. Most of the comments — many from Irish people — were overwhelmingly positive. Even Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Lawson, shared the viral video on her own Instagram page with the caption, “Verified. I love a tapper. I remember Solange with her tap shoes. We finally had to hide them. Just for a day!”

The official Riverdance Twitter account even posted “Morrghan you are “rockin” it… We are super proud of you. Great dancing and we look forward to your next video”. Unfortunately, in between the positive comments, there were negative ones. Morgan was accused of “cultural appropriation” for being a black woman participating in Irish dance.

She posted a Tweet addressing the comments which read, “If you think that a black girl Irish dancing is some form of cultural appropriation, then you clearly don’t know much about Irish dance.

 

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shoutout to shamrock photo for not catching me at the height of my ugly cry a week ago today ?

A post shared by @ morgvn.elizabeth on

“There are Irish dance schools all over the world, including Mexico, China and Africa. It has become a very widespread sport in which participants become immersed in the culture, whether or not it is their own based on ethnicity.”

Morgan explained the post to us, “I just felt the need to address it, just to get my frustration out. Shortly after posting my video on Twitter I started to see people saying that it was cultural appropriation. I’d never heard that in all of my years of Irish dancing and travelling to Ireland. I’d only been met with love and support.

“It was really upsetting to see and even though most of the comments were positive, scrolling through them, of course that’s what stuck out because it was the only negativity.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

tis the szn

A post shared by @ morgvn.elizabeth on

Morgan says she wasn’t expecting her video to travel as far as it did. “I didn’t think that many people would see it, but I’m glad that it brought so many Irish people to my Twitter to prove the fact that those few negative people don’t represent the whole of Ireland. That was an amazing result.”

Morgan is now focusing on the positive comments, and is working to complete her Masters Degree in Education. “I’m a pre-kindergarten teacher here in Virginia and I’m studying Elementary Education. Hopefully I’ll be graduating with my Masters in Education and I’ll be a teacher, that’s what I want to do.

“Initially the negative comments got to me because I’m not used to having this much attention on my social media,” she says. “But now it doesn’t even matter any more because there’s so much positivity.”

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