Irish stepdancer Emma Burke seeks to educate young Atlanta performers on Irish culture

Emma Burke is an Atlanta-based dancer and instructor. (Beri Irving)

Atlanta’s dance scene is vibrant and eclectic, and we are honored to highlight some of the many local dancers who move us with their movements in our ongoing series “Speaking of Dance.”

This edition highlights Emma Burke, Atlanta-based Irish stepdancer and instructor with Atlanta Irish Dance. Irish step-dancing is the only dance style in which a person does not use their arms when performing. Burke said, “It’s so amazing to watch because you have these individuals with these upper bodies, their shoulders squeezed back, necks elongated, arms glued at their sides, and yet, their legs are kicking to the sky, and they’re leaping through the air.”

Burke was born in Dublin, Ireland, and has been dancing since she was 10 years old. Her family moved to Atlanta in the 1980s, and she has continued to make the city her home for her children. “As part of being a dancer, I want to educate the community on Irish dance and Ireland. We teach [my dancers] Gaelic at Atlanta Irish Dance. We explain the history of dance, so that way our dancers don’t just learn how to dance, we also want them to know why we dance,” said Burke.

More information about Atlanta Irish Dance is available here.