Cracking dancers


THE SOCIAL NETWORK:At the launch of Ballet Ireland’s Nutcracker tour on Wednesday, at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan told us that his profession before he entered politics was physical education. He said ballet is great for posture, is a “corrective exercise” and “is as important as any other sport”.

The Minister, who can be relied on to get a Kerry connection into his speeches, was delighted to be in the Gaiety. The last time he was there, he said, was to attend the opening night of Big Maggie, by John B Keane, starring the Kerry actor Aisling O’Sullivan.

“There’s the John B Keane bar, and his handprint is outside,” the Minister said.

Anne Maher, the director of Ballet Ireland, brought the Minister back to earth – or at least to Dublin – and said, “If I’m not mistaken, not only is there a John B Keane bar here, but I believe that a certain dancer called Anna Pavlova danced in this building too.” The Russian ballerina was in Dublin for a week in 1912 and visited Jammets restaurant, where she was sketched by Sir William Orpen.

Cormac Murphy, from Ballincollig, Co Cork, who plays the soldier in The Nutcracker, has been dancing since he was 16. “I started doing dance quite late and got involved with it through a former girlfriend,” he said. He has worked with UK ballet companies, and this is his first season with Ballet Ireland.

The dancer Breandán de Gallaí – who is a former lead dancer with Riverdance – told me that he choreographed a piece for the recent Nanette de Valois symposium at the Abbey Theatre and set it to the music of Kate Bush.

This Nutcracker tour will see Ballet Ireland give 30 performances in 22 venues in Ireland and Britain.

Who we spottedThe former film censor Sheamus Smith, who is now a board member of Ballet Ireland; ballet dancers Dominic Harrison from Sheffield, Maria Ledesma from Spain and Ryoko Yaguya from Japan.