News

Lord of the (Irish) dance

Kicking Irish dance into Australia via Bexhill Hall are (l-r) Scott Clark of Lismore, Karen Simpson-Clark of Cape Byron Celtic Dance Company, Will Chapman of Mortlake, Victoria, Shawn Silver from Newfoundland, Canada, and Ken Bright of Mullumbimby.
Kicking Irish dance into Australia via Bexhill Hall are (l-r) Scott Clark of Lismore, Karen Simpson-Clark of Cape Byron Celtic Dance Company, Will Chapman of Mortlake, Victoria, Shawn Silver from Newfoundland, Canada, and Ken Bright of Mullumbimby.

SHAWN Silver loves Irish dancing so much it's infectious. Just watching him stepping, skipping and high-kicking makes me want to dance. With him.

"Hey Lismore!" says Shawn.

"If you ever wanted to try your hand (or feet) at Irish dancing, now's your chance."

Shawn is from St John's, Newfoundland in Canada. He grew up there, on the wild eastern seaboard, dreaming of becoming a dancer.

He made his dream a reality by developing his expertise in the dance, forming a company called iDance with affiliates in lands as far-flung as his native Canada, Iceland, Portugal, now Australia and next stop China.

You know it's something pretty special when he tells you his tours are sponsored by the Canadian Government's 'Department of Intangibles'.

Last year he was sponsored to perform at the annual Australian Celtic Festival at Glen Innes. His performance, and expansive generosity in sharing his skills offstage with young and old alike, made a deep impression on festival organisers and this year he's been invited back to perform and promote traditional Celtic dance and culture.

His mission here is to "high-kick the spirit of Celtic dance into Australia" in partnership with the Cape Byron Celtic Dance Company.

Among his many performances he has danced with Michael Flatley's massively successful Riverdance and with the Magic of Ireland show, as well as his own production, Celtic Fire.

Shawn spends a couple of months in each place he visits, sharing the culture of the dance and making connections with the people.

"That's how culture evolves, and it seems Lismore is an energy centre - I always get attracted to those sorts of places."

Shawn describes Irish dance as an ancient form of art that has morphed into a highly athletic form - in fact, he says, there's a sense in which it's also a sport, requiring strength, timing and precision.

"It's considered a national treasure in the land of its birth, where it's an ancient tradition. It's only become new again since Riverdance.

"Historically it precedes Christianity - some of the dances are so ancient the Druids would have been doing them. But when the Anglo-Saxons started their attempted takeover of Ireland they announced that Celtic dancing was too provocative, and succeeded in restricting it.

"It's the same thing that happened when the Anglo-Saxons encountered hula dancing in Hawaii, and bellydancing in the Middle East.

"In 1900, the Irish Gaelic league decided to revive the art and started collecting and preserving the old dances.

"I believe it's really important for us to share what we do, especially elements of our cultural heritage... In the past, artists, dancers and poets were important to the communities they visited, taking their form of art with them. After all, what are we without the art around us?"

Not only does Irish dancing keep Shawn radiant in health - he credits it with saving his life.

"I had a massive car accident in the winter of 2008, on an icy road in Newfoundland," he recalls.

"I fractured two vertebrae and was in a coma. When I woke up I didn't know who I was or what had happened. I thought it was 1998 and I was still a stockbroker.

"I didn't even know who the guy was who was holding my hand - turns out it was my life partner, Bruce!

"I worked with a head injury specialist for a year and gradually recovered.

"The physical damage would have been much worse if my spine and legs had not been as strong as they are. My back muscles held everything in place, and I believe that core strength came from dancing."

Anyone who wants to release their inner Celt is encouraged to go along to a series of master classes at Bexhill Hall next Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23-24, from 4-8pm.

Children and adults, beginners and experienced dancers, all will be warmly welcomed. Phone 0487 190 647 or go to idanceaustralia.com to book.

"Everyone who's ever wanted to try Irish dancing should come along," says Shawn.

"Anyone can do it - and if we find a great dancer we'll take them with us to dance onstage at Glen Innes."


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

All she wants is to be chosen

TAKE ME HOME: Daisy from pet shop to pound to your place.

Daisy has gone from puppy farm pet shop dog to the pound.

It's time to get your shorts on the big screen

ANIMATED: Citizen To Activist, an animation by David Lowe and Eve Jeffrey, won the Jury Award for best Short Film at Flickerfest 2015 - Byron AllShorts.

Entries for Flickerfest 2017 and Byron All Shorts are now open

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Local Partners

Not just any party, it's the Arty Party!

A family-friendly, child-focused arts festival

More Northern River schools needed to be counted in

John Foreman and Jay Laga'aia at a songwriting workshop earlier this year.

Music - Count Us In will be held in November

All she wants is to be chosen

TAKE ME HOME: Daisy from pet shop to pound to your place.

Daisy has gone from puppy farm pet shop dog to the pound.

It's time to get your shorts on the big screen

ANIMATED: Citizen To Activist, an animation by David Lowe and Eve Jeffrey, won the Jury Award for best Short Film at Flickerfest 2015 - Byron AllShorts.

Entries for Flickerfest 2017 and Byron All Shorts are now open

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Graceful Russian ballerinas will perform Swan Lake

ON STAGE: The Russian National Ballet Theatre brings their production of Swan Lake, the full length classical performance.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is coming soon

Baird dogged by fears greyhound ban will cost Nationals seat

Mike Baird may hold off on implementing the greyhound racing ban until 2020 as he tries to woo voters back into the National fold before the Orange by-election.

Could Orange by-election force Baird to delay greyhound racing ban?

Are government staffers talking Wentworth Park sale?

Greyhounds race at the Wentworth Park ahead of the industry's July 2017 shutdown.

No answer on whether government staff discussed Wentworth Parl sale

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.

3500 jobs on the way with new $950 million resort

Residential, tourist, community, and open space on Hummock Hill Island.

PROPERTY developers plan to begin construction next year.