Dancers have waited ’many, many years’ for new studio and it’s finally here

‘We’ve waited many, many years for this’

A cloud of tulle and the whisper of pink satin slippers dispelled the gloom of a January afternoon yesterday as a flock of tutu-clad ballerinas pirouetted into Skibbereen’s spectacular new Arts Centre.

Some of them as young as two years of age, the 100 or so dancers — all members of the Alan Foley Academy of Dance — were thrilled by their first sight of the state-of-the-art dance studio that awaited them in the five-storey, €3.6m Uillinn-West Cork Arts Centre building.

Dancers have waited ’many, many years’ for new studio and it’s finally here

“This studio is specially designed for dance with a special sprung floor, beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows and full-length mirrors, as well as ballet barres — we have waited for this for many, many years,” enthused Mr Foley, principal of the academy and creative director of the Cork City Ballet, who has held classes in the old premises on North Street for some two decades.

“The children are ridiculously excited about it. Everything is new; it’s stunning to have a facility of this kind in Skibbereen.

“Our students in Bantry and Clonakilty will also avail of these facilities,” said Mr Foley, who paid tribute to the staff and the board of management for what he described as the “many years of hard graft” it took to bring the project to fruition.

Aside from 10 staff and two community employment scheme workers who transferred from the old building on January 5, the pupils, who range in age from two-and-a-half to 20, are the first members of the public to enjoy a class in the new West Cork Arts Centre in the centre of the town.

Foley’s weekly ballet dance programme began in the new centre yesterday afternoon, but a full schedule begins next Monday, starting with Arts for Active Minds, a visual arts programme for the over-55s.

Dancers have waited ’many, many years’ for new studio and it’s finally here

The centre will hold 10 large exhibitions annually, as well as up to three activities per day. The inaugural exhibition takes place on January 31 at 3pm with the opening of ‘Fourth Space’, a group exhibition of several artists.

The official opening will take place in early summer.

The building comprises two galleries, the University College Cork/Bollinger Family Space Dance Studio, art workshops, three artist in residence studios, offices, and Tea Rooms.


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