May 20, 2024

Styles Of Dance

Dance Styles Unite in Harmony

Orlando dancer finds social media fame fusing Irish and hip-hop

3 min read

While some artists work to fit an existing genre, others craft their own niche, even by accident. The latter is what happened to Orlando-based dancer Kaitlyn Sardin, 26, when she began blending her love of Irish dancing with hip-hop and other styles.

Better known on Instagram and TikTok as Kaitrock, the performing artist developed her unique fusion in the last decade, starting with a Beyoncé track and a social media video.

“I posted a video on Instagram in 2016 where I mixed hip-hop and Irish dancing to ‘Formation’ by Beyonce. Even before that, my friend and I would have creative dance competitions back around 2010,” she said. “During the pandemic, I just wanted to throw on my Irish dance shoes and dance to ‘My Power’ by Beyoncé. I do Irish dancing but also have these other styles, so it’s great to celebrate both.”

When she shared the video on X (formerly known as Twitter), it was retweeted by the Irish Embassy and actor Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek. Shortly after, Azealia Banks noticed Sardin’s dance to her song, “Anna Wintour.” Many people responded positively to seeing a Black, queer dancer find a common thread between seemingly disparate styles.

“She saw it and everybody was like, ‘This is crazy,’ because I was doing vogue with Irish dancing. People had never seen it before, they were blown away by the fusion,” Sardin said. “There’s a rhythm to it, I love that you’re able to create your own drumbeat. I think that’s incredible. I’ll find a song, then find the bass or the drum beat and either copy it or add to it.”

Orlando-based dancer Kaitlyn Sardin, 26, dances at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park on April 9, 2024. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando-based dancer Kaitlyn Sardin, 26, dances at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando native got her start in ballet at a young age before taking inspiration from an Irish dancer who performed during intermission at one of her recitals.

“I was like, ‘What is this? They’re making noise. It’s so different from ballet.’ A week later, my mom put me in Irish dance,” Sardin said. “After that, I just stuck with it. I’ve been doing it for 20 years now.”

While social media stardom has rewarded Sardin’s creative efforts, she has also won multiple world titles in Irish dance and numerous national and regional awards. In addition, she was named as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for 2024. But the online recognition has also brought negative, sometimes racist comments from people on X.

@kaitrock

🤠🤠 #irishdance #cowboycarter @Beyoncé #fyp

♬ RIIVERDANCE – Beyoncé

“One of my competitive videos went viral and people in the comments said, ‘This isn’t Irish dancing, this is jungle dancing,’ or calling it cultural appropriation,” Sardin said. “I trained for 20 years in that style. I have Irish in my heritage too.”

A recent video shared from Sardin’s fusion dance at a Snap! Orlando gallery show opening drew particularly harsh backlash from online trolls but was also accompanied by a tidal wave of support.

Orlando-based dancer Kaitlyn Sardin, 26, stands for a portrait at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park on April 9, 2024. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)
Orlando-based dancer Kaitlyn Sardin, 26, stands for a portrait at Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park. (Patrick Connolly/Orlando Sentinel)

“Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, has reposted me. Little Simz, the artist that I danced to at Snap! gallery, also reposted me. I was shared by Parkwood, Beyoncé’s company,” she said. “I get a bunch of amazing support from dancers, Irish people and everybody, really.”

Follow Sardin on social media: Instagram and TikTok @kaitrock and on X @scorplanes.

Find me @PConnPie on Instagram or send me an email: [email protected].


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