"The culture of Irish dancing encourages both preservation of historical dances, as well as inventiveness and innovation in creating new steps and new dances."At age five, Kieran Jordan watched Irish step dancing for the first time in a St. Patrick's Day parade. Soon after asking her parents if she could learn to dance, she was taking lessons in her parish hall on Saturday mornings. Little did this young Irish-American girl know, the dance steps of her ancestors would take her on a life long journey to becoming not only a renowned Irish step dancer, but also a cultural activist and an invaluable resource within the Irish-American community.
Jordan's training as an Irish dancer began with traditional Irish step dance, which dates back to the mid-18th Century. Historically, male dance masters travelled throughout Ireland teaching in villages and performing at local fairs. However, around 1930, the rules and regulations of Irish dance competitions standardized and formalized the dance style. Jordan's own dance style is reminiscent of this later period of competitive Irish dance, and she herself has been competing since she began college at Boston College. In the following years, Jordan's journey brought her to Ireland to deepen her knowledge of Irish dance. While earning her Masters degree in Dance Performance at the University of Limerick, she mastered sean-nós Irish step dance, which in Irish means "old style". Dating back even further than traditional Irish step dance, Jordan describes this nearly extinct dance style as "characterized by improvised rhythm patterns, playful performance quality, free movement in the hips, arms, and upper-body, and an intrinsic partnership with the music".
Today, Jordan is the only American to have ever won a sean-nós dance contest in Ireland. She currently teaches in Boston and Cambridge, and organizes local performances, events, lectures, and workshops. As one of only four sean-nós style dance instructors in the United States, Jordan's work is integral to the revival of this dance form, which began in Ireland over the past 10-15 years and has spread to America only recently. Jordan was awarded a Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in the Traditional Arts in 2008 and 2018.