In celebration of Black History Month, Dance Spirit is saluting young Black artists who don’t just represent a bright future for the dance industry—they’re already making history of their own. Second in our series: Morgan Bullock. Be sure to check dancespirit.com throughout February to meet more dancers who embody Black excellence in dance and in life. #BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow
Next month, the Irish dance/music/culture extravaganza Riverdance kicks off its North American tour in Salt Lake City, UT. The show, performed for worldwide audiences since 1994, has seen many gifted Irish step dancers cycle through the cast. But until recently, none of them were Black women.
That’s all changing because of 22-year-old Morgan Bullock. Bullock, from Midlothian, VA, just completed a triumphant 27-city tour of the UK as Riverdance’s first Black female dancer. Even in the massive cast, Bullock is a clear standout.
The Guardian reported last October that Bullock dances at the front of several ensemble numbers, where “Her beaming smile can’t be missed—among a cast that has waited 19 months to resume a milestone tour, Bullock performs like someone who has waited their entire life.”
In some ways, she has. Bullock first fell in love with Irish dance at age 10. She soon began dance training, first at the Baffa Academy of Irish Dance and later at Virginia Commonwealth University. But the artform’s lack of diversity was discouraging. “I watched [Riverdance] so many times as a young dancer and I never saw somebody who looked like me,” Bullock told The Guardian. “I kind of just had to imagine myself up on the stage.”
So it’s more than fitting that sheer imagination brought Bullock to prominence on TikTok. Bullock arguably started a trend that has since exploded on the platform: pairing traditional Irish-dance steps with contemporary music.
Bullock’s highly skilled and creative TikToks were as good an audition as Riverdance could have asked for. (Bullock had already caught the team’s eye as a teen, at a Riverdance summer intensive.) One fateful phone call later, Bullock was living her very own Irish-dance Cinderella story.
Wherever dance takes her next, Bullock is sure to shine as her fullest and most authentic self. As she told the Associated Press, “I think what’s so special about Irish dancing is that it does transcend cultural borders, and it’s something that can be enjoyed by literally anyone, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter if you even have an Irish connection. It’s a beautiful cultural art form. I think because it has Irish in the name, people think you have to be Irish, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”