Students from Ireland and abroad learn to ‘Riverdance’ in Dublin
‘It’s like meeting your idol and your idol is teaching you something’
Caoimhe Kirkham (13), Galway; Rachel Kennedy (12) Limerick; Sophia Delaney (13) Laois and Caitlin Murray (12) Armagh are among students taking part in the Riverdance International Summer School in Dublin this year. Photograph: Dave Meehan/ The Irish Times
Young dancers from Ireland and abroad gathered in Dublin this week for the beginning of the fifth annual Riverdance International Summer School.
A total of 113 dancers, aged 12 and up, have enrolled in the week-long, intensive dance instruction programme being held at Liffey Trust Studios.
Professional performers from the Riverdance show will spend days breaking down the complicated moves of the famous Irish dance routine to teach to students.
“It’s like meeting your idol and your idol is teaching you something,” said Maria Zimfer (30) from Moscow, Russia. “It’s fantastic.”
The students here are not just learning the moves, they are also auditioning for the show.
Since its inception in 2015, the school has sent 33 former students on to become part of the Riverdance show. At the end of this week, a selection of students will perform with the professional cast in the Saturday matinee show at the Gaiety Theatre.
But everyone gets at least one performance – the entire school will perform on stage for family and friends at the end of the week.
“It’s very amazing to look in front of you and dance,” said Igor Berezovoy (13) also from Moscow. “I see a lot of people looking at me and my friends. It’s very amazing.”
Teamwork and togetherness are the prominent themes throughout the week, as the dancers learn to perform the intricate choreography in unison.
“It’s nice to feel that here it’s not about competition,” said Zimfer. “We share everything and try to help everyone. The company here is about that. We see that and want to keep that.”
“Lots of people came in already knowing people, whereas I literally knew no one,” said Ella Owens (15) from London.
“On my first day I made like four new friends. Now we’re really close. We meet so many different people. You grow closer and have all these amazing memories with them.”
The opportunity to interact with professional dancers is what makes the school special, and what brings many students back year after year.
“You get so inspired by all the instructors,” said Niamh Marsden (17) of Avoca Beach, Australia. “Every time you come back you learn something different. You might pick up something that you didn’t know was in the dance.”
“They are such lovely people,” said Anthony O’Connor (18) from Dublin. “Most are from Ireland and they have so many stories. I feel so lucky to actually be surrounded by them this entire week because you couldn’t ask for anyone better to be your instructor.”
“It’s great for us as well,” said Ellen Bonner, dance captain at the school and lead dancer in the show.
“They’re obviously inspired by us, but we get so inspired by them. Just seeing their work ethic and how passionate they are about it. It just makes us really appreciate our job and how lucky we are to get to do it every day and perform it every night for audiences all over the world.”