Sean Sullivan September, 2010
Rince Na h'Eireann School of Irish Dance
Photo: Maureen Sullivan

Sean Sullivan is an Open Champion Irish dancer with Rince na h'Eireann School of Irish Dance in North Carolina. It can also be said that Sean is a ballroom dancer, a hip hop dancer, and a pre-professional ballet dancer!

Recently, Sean auditioned for an arts college with a non-traditional Irish set dance called "The Blackthorn Stick."  Auditioning for a school of the arts with an Irish dance piece sounds interesting enough, but Sean went one step further and danced the set to a contemporary piece of music called "The Intro" by XX.


Sean applied to five schools with Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in dance: American Musical and Dramatic AcademyElon UniversityRadford UniversityUniversity of North Carolina School of the Arts, and  Virginia Commonwealth University.  He was accepted at all five, and was offered scholarships based on his dance talents and achievements to four of the five.

When asked why he wanted to go to a college with a solid arts program in dance, Sean said, "I have always loved dancing and want to make it a career."

Read more:

Irish dance and college: finding space to practice

The Blackbirds Irish dance group at College of Wooster

Irish dancer opportunities to study abroad in Ireland

Of the five options, Sean chose the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Sean said, "It is my dream school and has been for awhile. I also want to go there because it is a state school.  Even after scholarships to the other universities, UNCSA is still the least expensive.  Dream school AND least expensive!  How often does that work out?  Another bonus is that UNCSA is a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis school which means it leads straight into the American Ballet Theatre, one of the best classical ballet companies in the country. I also have lots of friends who went and/or go to UNCSA who've given the school great reviews."
Jordan Decoteau and Sean Sullivan
Irish dance classmates and competitors
2011 Southern Region Oireachtas- Orlando, FL
Both young men qualified to compete at the 2012 World Irish Dancing Championships
Photo: Maureen Sullivan

Irish dancers know Sean Sullivan from feiseanna, or competitions.  But, Sean is also an accomplished and competitive dancer in tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and ballroom dancing, both standard and Latin.  He is currently a pre-professional ballet dancer at North Carolina Dance Theatre. 

Sean has been dancing for ten years now.  It all started when he was seven when his parents enrolled him in a dance studio in Atlanta, Georgia because he had always loved to dance.  There, he was taught tap, jazz, and ballet, and found that he didn't like it because he didn't feel as if he was learning anything.  So, his parents decided that after the annual dance recital, they would pull him out of dance classes.  

As luck would have it, during that recital, an Irish dancer from the Drake School of Irish Dance performed.  His parents decided that both Sean and his sister should give Irish dance a try.  They danced at The Drake School of Irish Dance for a year before the Sullivan family moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Sean then danced at An Cor Rud School of Irish Dance until his family moved to North Carolina. 

Sean Sullivan
Photo: Maureen Sullivan

For more than eight years, Sean has been a student at Rince na h'Eireann School of Irish Dance in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Since starting with Rince na h'Eireann, Sean has tried and competed in many other forms of dance while training for Irish dance competitions.   He medaled in every ballroom dance event he entered, but after two years of classes and competing, he got bored and did not feel challenged.  Sean then went back to the type of dance studio where he started it all- hoping for something different and better.  He learned tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop. After a year of competing and performing in these dance genres, it became apparent that he was lacking in ballet technique. 

A little over a year ago, Sean switched all of his non-Irish dance classes to the North Carolina Dance Theatre which has a more solid focus on classical ballet.  He added classes in jazz, modern dance, and ballet.  He is currently a pre-professional ballet dancer at North Carolina Dance Theatre, and he plans to focus on ballet in college.  With all of the class changes and additions, Sean is up to at least sixteen hours of dance classes a week and at least thirty-five hours of dancing.  Through it all, he is still learning and perfecting his Irish dance at Rince na h'Eireann.  

When asked what he wants to do with all of his dancing and his future years at University of North Carolina School for the Arts, Sean said, "I'd like to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ballet, although I may switch this to modern dance if I get more comfortable with it.  I'd like to tour with a professional Irish dance group, get my TCRG (certified Irish dance teacher qualification) and eventually my ADCRG (certified Irish dance adjudicator qualification).  M
y dream is to open a studio where, no matter what the student wants to pursue (competitive Irish dancing, ballroom, hip hop, jazz or pre-proffesional ballet training), they'll be able to find it at my studio. The dance company would be similar; the company members would be required to be 'fluent' in at least two disciplines of dance."

We certainly look forward to seeing what Sean Sullivan does with his amazing talent, dreams, and ambition with all of his forms of dance!  Good luck Sean!
If you're an Irish dancer, do you plan on doing anything with your Irish dance as an adult?  Any plans on becoming certified to become an Irish dance teacher?  Do you do other forms of dance?  Please feel free to comment about your own experiences with other forms of dance or if you're planning on making a career with dance in the box below.

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