Focus on Duncan Irish dance studio in Johannesburg, South Africa - PHOTOS


Irish dance TCRG, Susan Theron, and the Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance
Photo:  courtesy Susan Theron
When you think of Irish dancing, you may not associate the percussive dance sport with South Africa, but if you venture to Johannesburg, you will find a thriving Irish dance community at the Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance.

Irish dancers from Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo: courtesy Susan Theron
In 1997, Susan Theron, TCRG (certified Irish dance teacher), introduced Irish dancing at her Highland dance school. Soon after, Theron established the Irish DancingAssociation of South Africa. For almost a decade, the school worked closely with Dr. John Cullinane from Cork, Ireland to bring teachers to South Africa. In 2007, the first pioneering teachers took their examinations, and ensured that Irish dance settled in South African soil. “Irish dancing has offered another dimension in my life,” says Theron. “I find it invigorating, and uplifting to have the structure, as well as the opportunity for expression, and I believe Irish dance is probably the most all-encompassing form of dance.”

Irish dancers at Kimberley Feis
Photo: courtesy Susan Theron
The Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance is one of the largest in South Africa. Dancers of all ages flock to the school that focuses on dancing for everyone, ranging from the sheer joy and sociality of classes, to the fun of performance, to the challenge of high level competition. Adult Irish dancers are common to the studio and Theron encourages them to do all forms of Irish dance—soft shoe, hard shoe, and ceili dancing. There are an unusual number of male Irish dancers at the Duncan Studio. “I am extremely fortunate to have a good quota of male dancers,” Theron says. “This adds a wonderful and balanced dimension to the studio.”

Irish dancers from Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo: courtesy Susan Theron
Theron and her Irish dancers have travelled overseas for the past three years to attend The All Irelands, and the World Irish Dance championships. The Duncan Studio made history when they had the first South African dancers recall and place at both competitions. The Duncan Studio exhibition troupe are always eager to perform for church and community fundraisers, corporate events, and have performed for well-known companies such as Virgin Atlantic Airways, Deloitte & Touche, Cadbury’s, Lifeline to name a few. This year the Duncan Studio’s Irish dancers performed in the South African Tattoo dance showcase.

Irish dancer from Johannesburg, South Africa
at All Irelands 2012
Photo: courtesy Susan Theron
Recently the Duncan Studio attended the South African Oireachtas. Five of their dancers have qualified to attend the World Irish championships at Boston, USA in 2013. Many trophies and medals were awarded to dancers for solos, as well as ceili dancing.

Irish dance is flourishing in South Africa, and there is no sign that the interest will slow down any time soon. Theron attributes much of the popularity to the televised shows like Riverdance, and dance troupes that visit the country. She says, “There is no doubt that the various dance shows have been instrumental in creating interest in the Irish dance form (in South Africa).”

The future of Irish dance is bright. Theron encourages her dancers to complete their grades and take their exams. “I would like to see our numbers to increase so that the future will be well-cemented and sure,” Theron says. “My passion for Irish dance continues, and I foresee many more years of happy and challenging activity for our busy studio.”
Irish dancers from Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo: courtesy Susan Theron
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Readers: Are you an adult Irish dancer, competitive or not, with a story to share? Would you like to inspire others to feel your passion for Irish dancing and culture? Do you have a question about Irish dancing? Please visit www.christydorrity.com


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