Irish dance behind the scenes

Celtic Academy Dancers were immersed in an intensive workshop over four days in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores).  From seven years to 12 years old, the Irish dancers have been working with the famed Riverdance Captain and Lead Instructor of the Riverdance Academy with Summer Schools in Dublin, Ireland and Boston, USA, John Lonergan, who made the only stop in Canada in Port Elgin.

Instructors Quinn Held (L), Academy Director Mary Foley (C) and John Lonergan of                                          Riverdance (R) with Academy dance students

Lonergan of Cork, Ireland, at the age of 27, has been dancing since the age of six and has won 10 World Championships in addition to many major competitions.  He joined Riverdance at the age of 19 and has toured consistently with the show throughout the world.  One of the original Riverdance Summer School instructors, he has taught at schools every year.  “I always like to see not only the upcoming talent but also the improvements that dancers make each year.”

The four-day workshop in Port Elgin, held in the Fitness Corner dance studio, was intensive for the young dancers who were taken through the many various movements and steps by Lonergan.  “It can be very tiring and day three is especially trying.  At the end of the workshop, there are many tired feet and legs … instructors included,” he smiles.

“The students have to have dedication, commitment and passion,” says Mary Foley, Academy Director. “We have students as young as four and also have students who are excelling on the world stage of Irish dance.  To have John Lonergan here is a wonderful experience for our young dancers.”

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Foley adds that the Academy is about to begin a new program, “Jump ‘n’ Jig’ pre-school Iris Dance.  The first program in Canada is about to launch in September.  “We are very excited to begin this first ever licenced curriculum for Preschoolers. Ages 2 years-5 year with three levels of study #Baby Jig – 2 years  #Tiny Jig- 3 years  #Mini Jig- 4-5 years.  It’s going to be very exciting.”