Cork City Ballet’s artistic director, Alan Foley, recently announced a long-cherished ambition: a full-time dance college opening in Sept 2014.
Mr Foley has been teaching the diploma in dance at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa for 20 years and says leaving is a wrench. “It’s given me so much, and I have such happy memories. But I always wanted to spread my wings, be master of my own destiny. The Cork City Ballet College of Dance will be the realisation of a dream.”
Jane Kellaghan will carry on his work at CSN. “She has been there almost as long as I have and was also a student, so that’s come full circle for her,” he says.
When Mr Foley was forced to give up dancing because of ill-health problem, it was devastating. “There was a grieving period. When you’re a dancer, it’s everything in your life, from the moment you wake up in the morning. It’s how you define yourself.” Now, he is happy teaching others. “I treat my students as adults doing a difficult job, and it’s my task to encourage them to push their bodies beyond the limit, as any dancer must.”
The College of Dance, which will take students from the age of 16, will cover all genres, from ballet to modern, contemporary to free jazz, as well as anatomy, physiology, and the history of dance. “A dancer, nowadays, has to be versatile, so we’ll be doing the full contemporary range. What will be special, though, is that our students will be in the enviable position of being able to train alongside dancers in the company and being exposed to that excellence on a daily basis. And when visiting stars come for the Cork City Ballet performances, they’ll be working alongside them, too. You could say it’s a bit like the Bolshoi or the Kirov, where talented students are regularly given the opportunity to perform with the main company. It’s such a boost for them.” He is planning to stage The Nutcracker, with CCB, next winter, because it has small parts and cameos for students. “And do you know something? Our visiting ballerina, Lucia Lacarra, loved her time here so much, recently, that she has offered to come back and dance in Nutcracker. That will be a real thrill for the new college students.”
In selecting students for admission, he will be looking for passion. “Previous dance experience is good, but it’s not essential. Like all the best colleges, we’re looking for that special something, that shining talent.” The college will take transition students to let them see if this is a career they want to follow, “but to qualify for that, they’re going to have to be very talented.” Joining Mr Foley on the staff will be Patricia Crosbie, Sinead Murphy, Philippa Davidson, and former student, Richard Murphy (now a West End star). “Plus, we’ll be in the Firkin Crane, and that feels like we’ve all come home. JDM would be so thrilled to look down and see the dream she wanted, so much, coming true.”
* For more information, contact the Firkin Crane on 021-4507487.
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