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.

REVEALED: A new Northern Rivers music festival in 2017

Lismore Music Festival co-directors Scott Cooper and Paul Connelly.

Mark March 10 and 11 in your calendar

Dreams and culture in them there hills...

Sophie Moeller, Lismore Echo Editor. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

Hall's stories bring local history alive through song and dance

Local Partners

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Robert Irwin, wildlife photographer

SNAPPER: Apart from wildlife, photography is Robert Irwin's great passion.

Steve's boy has a passion for photography

Louis Tomlinson's tribute to late mother

Louis Tomlinson's new single is a tribute to his late mother.

Justin Timberlake stuns students with secret class

Justin Timberlake stunned high school students in Sydney

Carrie Fisher says Ford will be bugged by affair confession

Carrie Fisher is sure Harrison Ford is annoyed at her

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with childhood sweetheart

Dakota Fanning rekindles romance with ex

Jennifer Lawrence apologises to the people of Hawaii

Jennifer Lawrence sorry for 'offensive' story

'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

"You can't have one without the other.”

Former Shark Show for sale for $1.3 million

Vic Hislop at the old Shark Show.

TALK about a jaws-dropping real estate opportunity.

There's a whole lot of luxury in this home

The Endeavour Foundation's latest prize home in Mountain Creek.

WHEN it comes to desirable homes, it's hard to go past a prize home.

WATCH QTV: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!