Blending Irish Dance With Hip Hop: Here’s How This Black Dancer Is Captivating Millions Online With Her Unique Style

Courtsey of Kaitlyn Sardin Instagram

Kaitlyn Sardin might not be the quintessential image that immediately comes to mind when most people think of what an Irish dancer looks like. But this Black creator has taken her Irish reels to Instagram, mashing up hip-hop with traditional moves and has gone viral in the process.

 This journey has been 23 years in the making. Sardin, now 26, started dancing when she was just three years old, starting with ballet lessons. But one ballet recital would change the course of her life after she saw her first Irish dance performance during intermission and fell in love.

“It was the rhythm of it. It’s so much like a drumbeat; I was like, this is incredible. I was always obsessed with drums, and I was able to be my own drumbeat with this dance style, and it was so different from ballet,” said Sardin. “I remember thinking, I can make noise with this and not get in trouble?’ That was the biggest draw for me.”

After enrolling at Central Florida Watters Irish Dance School, Sardin became a force of nature on the stage, racking up multiple awards. I did Irish dance competitively for about 15 years. At regional competitions, I’ve placed in the Top Five, five times. I’ve also performed and won at the national level, where I qualified for Worlds. I was able to go to the world championships a couple of times and I won at the world championships four times,” Sardin said.

“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,” Sardin explained after starting to experiment in the 2010s. “My style of dance is very chaotic, but overall it’s fusion…I love mixing all of my cultures together, so I feel like it’s a big part of me whenever I dance.”

“I always loved dancing to any music, but I think the biggest challenge is that sometimes with the fusion of dance styles it’s just such a weird rhythm, where you have to sit there and figure out ‘how can I make this work?’ and try it over and over,” said Sardin. “[T]he first thing I notice when I find a song. I’ll see how the bass sounds, but then I’ll listen for the drumbeat and if I see that I can re-create it with my feet then I go from there. I’ll see what movements feel right with the music. And that’s why I’ll usually do hip-hop, dancehall and Afrobeat, because they’re just so drum-heavy…Honestly? If I love the song! If I can move to the song, then I’ll think ‘Yep, that’s the one!’” Orlando Weekly reports.

Under the handle @katirock on Istagram and TikTok, she has been captivating viewers with performances by musical artists, from Beyonce to Cardi B., Kehlani, and Missy Elliott. Her social media posts have captured the attention of millions.

“Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, recently posted me, I’ve had Azealia Banks, Tinashe, Tyla and just so many more…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,” Sardin shared in a recent interview.

However, not everyone is pleased with Sardin’s moves, and she has been the target of racist comments. But Sardin isn’t letting the few detractors keep her down, telling IrishCentral, “I was honestly a bit shocked by the reaction, I’ve gone viral before but never seen that amount of hate…Luckily for me, so many people have been super uplifting and sweet.”

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