• Clodagh Meaney

Irish dancer Morgan Bullock opens up about going viral, backlash & plans to perform with Riverdance

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

The 20-year-old from Virginia went viral for dancing an Irish jig to Savage by Megan The Stallion and Beyoncé

Irish dancer Morgan Bullock has opened up about going viral on TikTok earlier this year.

The 20-year-old from Virginia shared a video of herself dancing to Beyoncé's remix of Megan Thee Stallion's hit song Savage, and it became an instant sensation across Ireland.

Posted on May 2nd, the routine was not initially supposed to take the form of an Irish dance.

"I tried to learn the routine to Savage, a song by Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé, but I couldn’t move fluidly," she told The Guardian. "So I tried Irish dancing to it, instead, doing the tricky footwork like rocks and toe-stands, trebles, drums."

To Morgan's surprise, the song worked well with Irish dance choreography.

"You can tap out the beats with your shoes," she said.

"I posted a video in the evening; at about 3am, I woke up and there were thousands of comments in everything from Russian to Chinese, and so many from people in Ireland."

"When the Irish author Emma Dabiri posted it on Twitter, even more flocked to my page," she said.

Morgan said she began receiving friend requests on Facebook from older Irish people telling her how much joy her video had brought to them.

The video, which now has more than one million views was even posted to Instagram by Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles.

"In the space of a few days, I had been tweeted by the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. He wrote: 'Some brilliant moves there, we’d love to have you over,' and invited me to Ireland to dance on St Patrick’s Day."

Days after the video went viral, Morgan appeared on RTÉ Radio One's Liveline with Joe Duffy where the director of Riverdance, Padraic Moyles, invited her to perform with the collective.

"He told me what I was doing was unique and asked me to take part in the touring show. I would definitely have gone to see it when it came to Virginia; now I’m going to be in it."

Following the video, Morgan faced comments from internet trolls who branded her routine as 'cultural appropriation'."

"I’m passionate about Irish dance, teaching and my identity as a young woman of colour, so the comments about cultural appropriation were quite hurtful," she explained.

"I feel like they’ve come from people who don’t understand the term."

"Irish dance is like any other cultural art form, it was created to be shared. It’s a dance that was born out of oppression; we can’t lose sight of that," Morgan said.

"For me, as a little black girl, it was a beautiful art I was desperate to be a part of."

When Morgan addressed the negative feedback in a social media post, she explained that there were Irish dance schools all over the world.

"The supportive response was overwhelming and it felt like an educational moment."

Morgan was 10-years-old when she first saw an Irish dancing recital at the dance school where she was practicing tap and ballet, "I was mesmerised. My mum was a bit incredulous at first, but she let me give it a shot. I fell in love after my first class."

Now 10 years later, Irish dancing is her life.

"Competitions aren’t that regular in Virginia, but until recently I was travelling every weekend to compete in major events elsewhere in the US, or international shows in Glasgow, Dublin and London."

"I came 43rd in the last world championships in 2019 – that might not sound huge, but getting into the top 50 is a big achievement."

However, this was not the highlight of her experience as a trailblazer, that came when a Black mother told her she let her daughter sign up to Irish dance classes because of Morghan's video.

"I didn’t have someone who looked like me to look up to in what is historically a very white space. That I can be that person for young black dancers is an honour."

Morgan's plan for the future is to go back competing, as she hopes to take up the offer of dancing with Riverdance once their tour has been rescheduled.

"My plan is to go back to competing; I just have to recover from some injuries. The Riverdance tour has been postponed for now, but when it comes to Virginia I’ll be there, dancing in the show. It will be a dream come true."

© 2020 by EMPWR

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