July 12, 2024

Styles Of Dance

Dance Styles Unite in Harmony

Instagram star Kaitlyn Sardin blends Irish dance with hip hop and dancehall

3 min read

When most people think about Irish dancing, some traditional images may come to mind: lively tunes, white dancers, clacking feet and perhaps a touch of Celtic charm.

But one viral dancer is creating something completely unique. 

When Kaitlyn Sardin was 3 years old, she started taking formal lessons in ballet and other styles. At 26, she now blends Irish dance with genre-bending music and moves. 

“I’ve been an Irish dancer for 20 years, and now I mix Irish dance with hip hop, dancehall and whatever I can figure out,” she said. “My style of dance is very chaotic, but overall it’s fusion,” she explains. “I love mixing all of my cultures together, so I feel like it’s a big part of me whenever I dance.”

Kailtyn Sardin dances
Kailtyn Sardin.Courtesy Kailtyn Sardin

Sardin’s captivating viral performances are set to music from artists such as Beyonce, Kehlani, Kali Uchis, Cardi B. and Missy Elliott. Her Instagram reels and TikToks have caught the attention of millions on social media, including some notable celebrities. 

“Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, recently posted me, I’ve had Azealia Banks, Tinashe, Tyla and just so many more,” Sardin said in an interview, “It’s been incredible because I listen to their music every day, so knowing that they’ve seen it and have actually interacted with it, it’s been so special for me.”

Despite the online fame, Sardin said she didn’t have the smoothest path to success. 

Kaitlyn Sardin smiles
Kaitlyn Sardin at the 2017 SRO World Qualifiers.Courtesy Kaitlyn Sardin

Growing up in Orlando, Florida, she said she felt imposter syndrome and isolation because of the lack of diversity in Irish dancing. 

“When I was a child, there weren’t many Black dancers besides the ones that I would see at competitions,” she said.

“So the fact that people can see somebody with braids, see somebody that’s Black doing this and being like, ‘Yeah, I can do that too,’ I feel amazing.”

Despite encountering skepticism and hate from people online who question the authenticity of her fusion style and her skills, Sardin said, centering her supportive family and friends have helped her stay focused. 

“A lot of people have been like, ‘Oh, that’s not Irish dancing. You’re not Irish, you’ll never be Irish.’ And I’m just like, I never said I was Irish,” she said.

“It’s absolutely Irish dancing. I just added a twist to it.”

Sardin said representation in dance is essential.

“There’s this whole art that a lot of people think they can’t do,” she said. “And I think it’s very important to show that no matter your skin color, you’re able to do what you want and you could learn all of these other styles.”

Sardin said she hopes to inspire more people to pursue their passions, regardless of societal expectations. 

“I hope that more people try more styles and try what they love,” she said. “Because a big part of me, I was holding myself back because I was like, ‘Oh, people don’t really do this,’ but you can. There’s no limit.”

Sardin, who has a busy summer ahead, including appearances at the Nantucket Dance Festival and Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch Live, isn’t just redefining Irish dance; she’s also inspiring an entire new generation of dancers to find their own unique groove.For more from NBC BLK, sign up for our weekly newsletter.


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