MA Irish Traditional Dance Performance Testimonials

MA Irish Traditional Dance Performance

“The MA in Irish Traditional Dance Performance programme at UL, under the directorship of Dr Catherine Foley, changed me as dancer both physically and mentally. It allowed me to become the professional dancer and choreographer I knew I was destined to be. Through my experiences in the program and the people I met I was able to launch my professional career and take my life in a direction I never could have imagined. Since successfully completing the MA in Irish Traditional dance, I have toured consistently for five years with Riverdance the show, dancing on four continents. I have recently earned my TCRG as a certified Irish dance teacher. I have also taught workshops in Brazil and dance classes in New York City”.

Nicole McKeever, MA

 “The MA programme in Irish Traditional Dance Performance completely changed the course of my career path: Irish dance for me became something that was not only done at feiseanna, but could also be studied critically in academia. The combination of master classes and workshops along with coursework in dance history and ethnochoreology opened my mind to new ways of thinking about dance. I was encouraged to step out of my comfort zone of competitive Irish step dance to explore unfamiliar styles of dance, such as Brazilian capoeira and West African dance. I learned that I could combine my love of dance and movement with my academic research goals and desire to teach in a university setting.

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park in Performance Studies, and my doctoral research addresses the development of Irish dance as a percussive dance in the United States. My plan after completing my doctorate is to find a position as a professor of dance or performance studies. I credit the MA programme and my wonderful mentors at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music & Dance with giving me the means and the courage to allow my passion for Irish dance to guide my academic career goals.”

Kathleen Spanos, MA

“The MA in Irish traditional dance performance is an intense, challenging, highly practical and incredibly rewarding experience. It challenged me academically and practically to find my own artistic voice in a supportive environment. Throughout the year, I extended my knowledge of dance repertoire and style and gained a much deeper sense of personal creativity and body awareness. I also developed critical and analytical skills in research, reflection and evaluation, which enabled me to broaden my understanding of my profession and of the Irish traditional dance form, in its historical and contemporary context. Numerous choreographic and performance opportunities taught me to work effectively and creatively as an individual and in collaboration with others in a variety of contexts. Undoubtedly, the MA changed my outlook and attitude towards myself and has helped me to become a confident, versatile and technically stronger performer and self-managing artist.

Having graduated from the MA in Irish Traditional Dance Performance, I have been able to work and collaborate with a whole host of exciting people in a diverse range of contexts including composers, aerial artists, TV producers, dance researchers and academics, an Irish rap artist, visual artists, performing artists, musicians, singers, theater directors, actors and film-makers. I have also enjoyed the great pleasure of returning to teach on the MA programme which has afforded me the opportunity to not only choreograph but to also give something of what I have learnt back to the current students. Working as a freelance performing artist I have performed with a number of professional companies, most notably Eirú Dance Company. Straight after completing my third semester of the MA in 2011, I traveled to the United States to perform in Eirú’s production, Noctú, off-Broadway in New York. Throughout this run I was privileged to be asked to perform the role of principal female, a role which my experience in the MA proved invaluable. Similarly, in 2012, I became dance researcher for the fourth series of TG4’s ‘An Jig Gig’ which I was able to fulfill due to the knowledge and contacts I had acquired throughout my year of the MA. Most recently, I decided to utilise the dance film and editing skills I had gained during my MA to extend my artistic horizons. I applied for and successfully received a film commission for ‘Minutes in Motion’, which forms part of Dance Ireland’s 2013 anniversary celebrations”.

Ashlene McFadden

“The MA in Traditional Dance Performance is a must for Irish dancers who like to think outside the box. The Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick is a safe, nurturing, creative space for emerging dance makers from an Irish traditional dance background. During my time on the course I was encouraged to find my own identity as a dancer whilst applying the fundamental techniques of ethnographic research and dance making to my choreographic process. This program also provided beneficial resources to collaborate and network with people from different areas of the performing arts. Dr Catherine Foley has developed a great way to bring traditional dance forward into an academic setting using her vast experience and expertise in the field of dance and ethnochoreology. I would strongly recommend this course to any person looking to further their career in dance.

Since completing the MA I have gone on to work with Dance Theatre of Ireland and Soul Steps NYC on the creation and performances of Every Little Step, The Rhythm of Hope. This production premiered in New York City at the Joyce SOHO in 2011 as part of Imagine Ireland, a year of Irish Arts and Culture abroad. I have also collaborated on a new production Pulses of Tradition with fellow allumni Brian Morrissey, who completed his MA in Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy. This stage show showcases Irish music, song and dance in both traditional and contemporary capacities and is now a part of the summer concert series at Triskel Arts Centre, Cork City.”

Andrew Vickers, M.A.




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