American woman puts diverse spin on Irish dance

With fast-paced steps... hops… and kicks… Morgan Bullock, a young African-American woman from Richmond, Virginia, has become an internet sensation - doing traditional Irish dance.

The 21-year-old college student said she heard about TikTok videos during the health crisis and decided to post a video.

Her dance routine - set to hip hop - went viral, with more than 1 million views.

"When it started to get attention, like outside of my normal following, it was really unexpected and it happened really fast.”

Bullock – who’s been dancing since she was 3 and began Irish dancing at age 10 – has qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships for the past two years.

And she says her race was never an issue until she went viral.

"I haven't really had to constantly think about my race as an Irish dancer. Of course, initially, my mom, my parents had reservations just because it was something that we had never heard of and it's not very typical for someone who looks like me to want to do Irish dancing. But I've made so many friends and I have, who are, I really consider them to be my family now, over the years of Irish dancing. And it really wasn't until I started posting videos on social media that I got any sort of negative response whatsoever.”

Critics online accused Bullock of engaging in cultural appropriation, an idea she rejects.

"I've traveled all over the world competing alongside other Irish people, as well as Mexican, African, Asian Irish dancers, because it's, you know, a global thing. And even though it's something that a lot of people don't know too much about, I always say, like you wouldn't tell an English girl she can't do ballet just because she's not French."

But beyond some criticism is a world of praise for what she can do.

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister invited Bullock to dance in Ireland via a tweet in May 2020, and the traveling Riverdance tour has asked her to perform with them when the group resumes tours in the United States.

For now, Bullock says she is grateful her skills as an Irish dancer can motivate and inspire a wider audience for the art form.