Virginia native Morgan Bullock took up Irish dancing 10 years ago at the Baffa Academy of Irish Dance in Midlothian, Virginia, USA, as she told Joe Duffy on Liveline:
"I started Irish dancing about a decade ago and I’ve loved it, loved competing and it brought me all over the world."
Morgan regularly posts clips of herself performing Irish dance routines on TikTok and other social media channels. Recently a 12-second video of Morgan dancing went viral on Instagram and Twitter.
this remix has no business being this hard ???? pic.twitter.com/JZQh0jvtg5— m (@Morrghan) May 2, 2020
Morgan’s skill grabbed the attention of celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic, including garnering her a share on the Instagram account of Beyoncé’s mother, Miss Tina Lawson. Morgan told Joe that while the response to the video wasn’t all positive, the negative comments were in the minority.
She says that accusations of 'cultural appropriation’ on social media took her completely by surprise:
"I’d never even thought of that being a response I would get, because throughout the years, like travelling to Ireland, I’ve always been met with love and support from Irish people, been embraced and I’ve fallen in love with the culture, I’ve learnt to love the language. I think of it as just, like, dance."
Morgan explained why, in her view, her detractors don't know what they are talking about:
"I think that people are failing to recognize the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. And I think what I’m really doing is appreciating the Irish culture, I’m participating in it in a very respectful way, I would say."
Morgan has pushed back against the critics, issuing her own statement on social media, outlining the international popularity of Irish dance, irrespective of national and ethnic background.
Ultimately, Morgan says she’s enjoying the fact that some of the ignorant online commentary has amplified her content and added to its popularity:
"I’m just glad that, through all of that, and me just ranting about how I felt about that, my video reached a lot more people."
I can't thank you all enough for the positive comments that are flooding my mentions right now.— m (@Morrghan) May 5, 2020
I posted my video for fun, never expecting it to reach so many people! Here’s a little video for those of you who prefer to see a treble jig to real irish music?? pic.twitter.com/QZ3KOP6ule
And unlike many of us, Morgan will not be found on the couch catching up on her box sets during this pandemic. As she told Joe, she’s doing what she loves: "I’m just using all this extra time to dance."
Listen back to the full conversation with Joe Duffy on Liveline here.