The Big Reel (No.1) Contest of Champions!


The Big Reel (No.1) Contest of Champions!

To celebrate the upcoming premiere (24 August 2013) of the New Century's The Big Reel (No. 1), we're giving away two free tickets to the first person who can name all of the Irish Traditional music and dance luminaries on the poster!  And our highly underpaid New Century Irish-Arts poetry lovers have devised the following clever hints to contribute to your impending success at having free tickets.  The first person to post the correct answers on our Facebook page will win the greatest prize of all: winning (and tickets).

Riddles to be wisely expounded.  Here we go:

1). Not all who have sight are the seeing,
The sightless may yet see the muse,
By touching her flesh and rememb'ring,
To whisper her name, "Bridget Cruise".

2). In '92 I made my mark
From men who stumbled in the dark,
But fumbled not with fingers aged
O'er the strands of melody.
Paint me, and I'll fly away.

3). May great Gaels grow on me
Revived by me, subscribed to the
New society for the preservation and publication
Of melody, and sometimes liberty.

4). Number Three is quite a dish:
Collector antiquarian.
Of ancient ideals long forgotten,
Eminent protector.
But I could sing and play and speak;
I showed him per his wish,
As Gaeilge, of the West
And the arts it had begotten.

5). From Galway I toddled,
American piper,
I rattled off reels on the left.
Six called me "genial wizard".
Was I too modern?
E'en Ennis thought I was deft.

6). Shipwrecked, I thought: why not write a book,
Catch a crook, discourse at length about the uilleann pipes?
It's worth a look.

7). The "grande dame" of D.C.
Worked at the BBC,
Came o'er the sea,
On her own float,
Left her legacy
On the banks of the Potomac.

8). musically overflowing,
The Times We've Had
with premium hairstyles

Remember to leave your answers on our Facebook page!

[Edited: Scholars have weighed in, reminding us that famous people five and six had their numbers crossed.  Now they're in the correct order.]


Performer Spotlight: Caitlin Ward


Performer Spotlight: Caitlin Ward

At The New Century, we are getting dangerously excited about our upcoming BIG show, The BIG Reel (No. 1), on Saturday August 24th!  As we approach the big date, we wanted to share the stories of the dancers and musicians we will feature in the show. First up, we interview the fabulous Caitlin Ward!

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Born and raised in Orange County, California, Caitlin began dancing at the age of 12 with the Aniar Academy of Irish Dance after receiving a videotape of Riverdance for Christmas and begging her mom to find an Irish dance studio. She immediately fell in love with the music, the rhythms, and the gracefulness of Irish dance, as well as the opportunity to celebrate her Irish heritage.  She then went on to compete regularly in local, regional, and national competitions, taking home 7th in the Western United States regional competition at the age of 16.  After taking a several-year hiatus from dance upon leaving for college and then moving to Washington, DC, she now dances with the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance in Silver Spring, Maryland. Caitlin joined The New Century in March 2012 and could not imagine her life without Irish dance now. "When I wasn't dancing, I always felt like something was missing from my life," she says. "I missed the joy of the music, the beauty of Irish dance, and the incredible rush from performing in front of a crowd. Every time I dance, I feel like I'm coming home again."

Q: Caitlin, tell us about your best moment on stage!

CW: My favorite moment onstage was during college, when I had a small solo in a folk dance performance. I was invited to come onstage and do a few minutes of hardshoe, and unfortunately when I walked out for my solo, I could see the audience was looking a little...weary. It seemed they hadn't been so impressed with the previous performances, so I thought to myself "ok Caitlin, go knock their socks off." I started dancing and I could see people sitting straighter in their chairs. Then they started clapping... and cheering... and now people were standing up in their seats!  By the time I finished my solo, the whole audience was engaged and hooting and hollering, thoroughly enjoying themselves. I'll never forget that adrenaline rush.

Q: You are one of the most fit people we know, what other types of exercise do you do to prepare for a performance?

CW: Irish dancing is largely a lower-body exercise but I believe it is important to exercise your whole body to stay fit and strong.  Irish dance takes a lot of endurance and strength because each dance is basically three minutes of non-stop, intensely draining movement, so to work on endurance I ride the elliptical, run, and bike ride.  I also swim and play on a recreational softball team. Weight training is also a big part of my regimen.  You've got to keep your legs, core, and upper body strong, so I regularly hit the gym to lift free weights and use the machines.  I do all of this not only to keep me ready for Irish dance performances but also because exercise mentally, physically, and emotionally restores me. I always feel better after a workout, and eating clean and staying in shape are two important parts of a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Q: The world wants to know, how did you learn how to dance with your arms at your side?

CW: When I was younger, my teachers would tell me to roll my shoulders back, keep them relaxed on my spine, and focus on using my stomach muscles to keep my posture straight while leaping so I wouldn't use my arms for leverage. They also instructed me to hold on to my shorts or pants while dancing to keep my hands in line. That was a particularly effective exercise because I physically couldn't lift them and had to get used to keeping them straight and relaxed without hunching my shoulders.

Q: Thanks, Caitlin!

CW: Thank you!

Stay tuned for more features on our dancers and musicians! And don’t forget to save the date for The Big Reel (No. 1) on Saturday, August 24th from 7pm at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Silver Spring, Maryland!



The Big Reel (No. 1)

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24th August 2013 | 8pm. Doors 7:30pm

To close out the summer, the New Century will present its sometimes-annual, sold-out spectacular of Irish Traditional music and dance, THE BIG REEL (No. 1)! Featuring some of the hardest-working traditional performers in Maryland and DC, the New Century’s summer performance will showcase historical choreography alongside unique new pieces created by New Century members, and traditional music gleaned from more than two centuries of printed collections.

Headlining the show will be the New Century’s directors, composer and arranger Peter Brice (button accordion, ballad-singing) and principal choreographer Kate Bole (step dance). Tenor banjoist Bob Smith, pianist Donna Long, and bodhrán player Myron Bretholz, will join them, presenting selections of their individual work. The cast features choreographers Lizzy Demaree, Joe Duffey, Catherine Marafino, and Phil Stacy, with dancers Denise Daniele, Lynne Haslbeck, Katie Kilner, Rebecca Marklin, Maggie McNamara, Caitlin Ward, and Sean Wilkes!

The New Century’s music and dance studios are comprised of local traditional artists who learned to play and dance in Maryland and Washington, DC. These musicians and dancers exude a locally-emergent style of Irish Traditional music that combines the musical influence of Billy McComiskey and Brendan Mulvihill with the step-dance legacy left to us by Peggy O’Neill.

Entrenched in tradition, at the heart of the New Century is its mission to empower traditional performers, and raise the visibility of the traditional arts in America. “The New Century’s performance ensemble is a laboratory for new ideas,” says company director Peter Brice, “But we aren't experimenting on traditional music and dance—we're testing new platforms for traditional artists to pursue their creativity at the highest level.”

The Big Reel (No. 1) is co-sponsored by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington and The Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance, in conjunction with the New Century.



A Snow-tastic Holiday Funstravaganza

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According to valuable new scientific research, 67.4% of Americans prefer holiday parties to any other type of party, except birthday parties, Fourth of July parties, graduation parties, Bar Mitzvahs, first Communions, and of course, Thanksgiving. What are the odds?!

So in celebration of this era-defining leap forward in celebration statistical analysis, we are throwing a monumental Christmas party!  A whopping massive one!  [ed. There are only 60 tickets!]  And who is better to concoct the awesome-est SNOW-TASTIC HOLIDAY FUNSTRAVAGANZA (TM) ever than authentic Santa elves from the North Pole!  And these are not your run-of-the-mill jingle-bell be-dangled four-foot iPod bleachers, ladies and gentlemen, but real renegade toy-making elves fled direct from the snowy serf-fed industrial complex of Santa himself.  Their complaint?  Not enough nutmeg in the eggnog!  Yikes!  A real problem in 2012!  Also, polar bears!

Anyway, here's to less pay for longer hours and all that!  Reserve your tickets for our Christmas party today! CONTACT:

********** UPDATE **********




New Century Design: Samhain Ceili at Liam Flynn's


Recently, the New Century design team had the opportunity to work on some ads for a Samhain ceili at Liam Flynn's Ale House in Baltimore's Station North arts district.  Liam's is a great bar with loads of great beers and ciders, and he's always got Irish music or Scottish music or a Doctor-Who-themed event going on.  We wanted to give these posters a Halloween touch, so we made them extra spooky by including orange bats, spoooky ghosts, and Dan Isaacson.

Click through for the whole set!




Haiku D'État

In accordance with our secret plans for world domination, or as the peace-loving flower lickers in PR are calling it, "to celebrate the launch of our website,," (a giant leap forward in our bid to subjugate mankind), we're having a little poetry contest.  Ladies and gentlemen, we give you:

There is almost nothing in the world that says "behold my unequivocal awesomeness" quite like the haiku. [N.B. Pie also has this quality]  Here is a masterful one:

Get out of my way, mortal
I can play the flute
And walk on water ripples

Wow!  What a thought-provoking and totally authoritative statement of being!  That poet is possibly going to take over the world—possibly by playing the flute.  The only possible way it could be more impressive is if he put it on a Facebook banner:

Behold, the ultimate fusion of poetry and Facebook: THE RETRO ART PROJECT HAIKU FACEBOOK BANNER (TM)—now with IRISH ARTS POWER (TM). It is obvious that the haiku, nay the art of poetry itself, was developed for no greater purpose.

And now, to fuel our dreams of empire building kittens, we're putting out a call for your own imperious, traditional music inspired haikus. We're calling it... Haiku D'État.

Let the contest begin.


1) ONE (1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive an original, endearing, personally flattering Facebook banner/retro art project designed by Peter Brice.

2) THREE (3) HONORABLE MENTIONS will be featured as images on the New Century's Facebook page and blog.

3) FIVE (5) RUNNERS UP will have their haikus featured on the New Century's Facebook page and on this blog.



1) All submissions will be judged solely on the basis of their individual awesomeness.

2) There is no #2.  (Well, technically there is, but... nevermind.)



1) Contest entrants should submit an original haiku pertaining to the practice and/or pedagogy of traditional music, song, or dance.  For information on the haiku in English, consult the Wiki of Armaments.

2) Any person may apply.  Applications from inanimate objects, dead people, and pets will not be considered unless they have a Facebook account.  A single entrant may not submit more than three (3) original haikus (unless it is under a false name).

3) The deadline for submissions is October 15th, 2012.  Contest winner(s) will be announced on October 31st, 2012, but our PR department has informed me to misinform you that "everyone is a winner."  Or did they say "weiner"?  Sigh.

4) Contest entrants should subscribe to the New Century on Facebook at

5) The New Century American Irish-Arts Company reserves the right to change these rules at any time, or to discontinue the Haiku D'État contest.  In such case, notification will be given on this blog and on the New Century's Facebook page.



What's in a name?

Letters of the alphabet!  Four of them, to be precise!  [ed. Five?] This riddle has stumped great minds in the fields of science, sports, and mathemagics for nearly two thousand years, yet we solved it in moments by issuing forth from our minds the unstoppable, cosmic force known as IRISH-ARTS POWER!!! (TM)

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Remember, kids: just say no to riddles. And when that doesn't work, strap on the uilleann pipes and give 'em a jigs-and-reels uppercut right to the ears!

But sometimes, a name comes along with so many letters in it that even IRISH-ARTS POWER (TM) isn't enough to keep riddles from getting their quizzical paws all over you and your stuff!  That's when you need ANSWERS (TM).

Say your fabulous young performing-arts company decides to call itself "The Blue Century Armenian Fire-ish Arts Bumpany". Boy, that's a mouthful... of riddles! What does it mean?

I have no idea. Fire their publicist.

But maybe if they called it THE NEW CENTURY AMERICAN IRISH-ARTS COMPANY, we would be able to detect a method to their madness. Sure it's a tad sentencey, but it used to be that a name told you what was in the box! For instance, that's how corn came to be called corn. If they'd called it "Sunrise Mist", you'd be like, "What in the what?! No thanks!" But they didn't, thank goodness! And we didn't call our company "Sunrise Mist" either (thank goodness). Instead, we named it after this hornpipe, The New Century.

All you have to do is slap "American Irish Arts Company" on the end of that and VOILA: that's how the New Century American Irish-Arts Company got its name! But, you may ask, why call it the New Century American Irish-Arts Company instead of a tested, proven-effective name like Steve or Abraham Lincoln? I grant you those would have been excellent names, but we had something else in mind:

Dear readers, imagine if you will a distant past in which men battled the forces of corruption, tyranny, world serpents, and especially RIDDLES using only the mystic secrets of the IRISH ARTS! Imbued with supernatural beauty and mystic knowledge about how to enjoy life, these IRISH ARTS sustained generation after generation of musicians, poets, bards, and scribes, gifting upon them creativity, endurance, skepticism, and courage.

But then, history posed to Ireland some of its greatest-ever riddles. Snarling through their mustaches they descended on the place, barking out questions like, "What will you eat if we destroy your precious potatoes?" and "Where will you live if we take away your homes?" and "Who will you be if we take you away from Ireland?"

Even the brave IRISH-ARTSmen, bolstered as they were by IRISH-ARTS POWER (TM), were outmatched by this gamut of fearsome, potato-pulverizing riddles, angrily posed. They were dispersed across the globe, clutching to their breasts the fractured shards of IRISH ARTS that would soothe and sustain them during their tempestuous passages into the unknown.

How they ended up in America remains a mystery! [ed. Boats.]  But one thing is for certain, loyal readers: when they got here, the IRISH ARTS were with them. And in North America, they flourished, and they shared the IRISH ARTS with people from other lands, whose own native music and art had been riddled by riddles for far too long!  And these German, and Italian, and Chinese people took up the IRISH ARTS and beat back their own riddles with music on the melodeon, and uilleann pipes, and fiddle until those riddles swam home to their mommies through a sea of their own tears and utter failure.

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And then they beat their chests and screamed at the top of their lungs, "Take that, riddles! Take that, tyranny! Take that, oppression!" And everyone cheered, and went to the bar. And that's how it all began!

So we called our company The New Century American Irish-Arts Company because in the 21st century (which is now), the Irish traditions of music and dance connect people from many cultures. Here in the United States, people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds have learned to play and dance well, and have become integral parts of our national Irish-arts community.  This is the community the New Century represents because these are the people who have been called to the stewardship of Irish traditional music in 21st-century America (which is now, here).

In the new millenium, Irish traditions and their cousins in Appalachian, Cape Breton, Acadian, and Old-Time styles are crucial to forming our cultural landscape: furthering cultural heritage, vitalizing music education, and extending the bonds of fellowship around the world through music, dance, art, and friendship—and a healthy distrust of riddles.