Michigan-born dancer, musician, and dance researcher Nic Gareiss has been described by the Irish Times as “the human epitome of the unbearable lightness of being,” and “the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. His choreographic work re-imagines movement as a musical activity, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions to weave together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration. He has performed with many of the luminaries of contemporary traditional music and dance, including The Chieftains, The Gloaming, Darol Anger, Dervish, Buille, Liz Carroll, Genticorum, Bill Frisell, Step Afrika!, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, Rhythm in Shoes, Bruce Molsky, Alasdair Fraser, and Martin Hayes.
In 2011 Gareiss was commissioned by the Cork Opera House to create and perform two new solo percussive dance pieces to celebrate the 75th birthday of composer Steve Reich. In 2013, he served as community liaison for the Wheatland Music Organization's 40th Anniversary production Carry it on..., supervising a cast of 70 non-professional dancers from the state of Michigan. He received a Traditional Arts Commission from the Irish Arts Council to create a new duo fiddle and dance work with Caoimhín Ó Raghalliah. The resulting piece, MICE WILL PLAY had a sell-out run at the Project Arts Centre during the 2013 Dublin Fringe Festival.
Gareiss has concertized in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada, and New Zealand and continues to tour and teach internationally, working with dance communities and presenting solo percussive dance choreography.
Nic holds degrees in anthropology and music from Central Michigan University and recently completed his MA in ethnochoreology at the University of Limerick.
Mariel Vandersteel grew up in the redwoods of California, attending weekly Irish sessions and Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School. It was there that she first heard the hardanger fiddle, the folk instrument of Norway. After graduating from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Violin Performance, Mariel moved to a tiny town in Norway where she studied folk music at Høgskolen i Telemark. Combining her love of Norwegian and old-time fiddle music, Mariel recorded an album, Hickory, in 2012 that received rave reviews. In January-March 2014, Mariel traveled with Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and India through the US State Department's cultural program, American Music Abroad. Acting as musical ambassadors, the Dance Cards performed at schools, women's colleges, American Embassies and Ambassadors residencies and exchanged music with local musicians. Mariel currently lives in Boston and performs with Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, teaches fiddle and studies graphic design.