Irish dancer brings moves to area studio

July 29, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

BARDANE, W.Va. - Colin Dunne has been described as the greatest Irish male dancer of all time and is probably best known for his live performance in "Riverdance - The Show."

Dunne has helped shape a new style of Irish dancing, which is recognizable by its loud dance steps in a range of rhythms.

Dunne was in Jefferson County Wednesday, but not to perform.

He was sharing his expertise with dancers who are eager to learn the art form.

Dunne will finish two days of lessons today at the New Hopewell Center for the Arts in the Bardane Industrial Park.


During an afternoon session Wednesday, Dunne led a group of seven dancers through a number of moves.

Dunne kicked up his feet, moving effortlessly through the complicated steps. He often landed by balancing his weight on the balls of his feet.

The dancers concentrated, and when the moves did not come to them, Dunne told them to imagine them.

Often, the move in the mind eventually will connect with the feet, he said.

The dancers were happy to have time with a teacher of Dunne's caliber.

"It was really, really cool," said Tina Pait, who traveled from Culpepper, Va., to see Dunne.

Lorri Deavers said the three hours of instruction she received from Dunne were not too grueling.

"It definitely motivated me to see him do it," said Deavers, who came from Bluemont, Va., for the class.

After the class, Dunne sat on the dance floor and relaxed as he answered a few questions about his style of dance.

The art form comes from traditional Irish dance, but has taken on a new dimension with more complicated rhythms, Dunne said.

Although he was not putting on a show Wednesday, Dunne said the classroom setting is something he enjoys.

"I like getting out and seeing what is going on at the grass-roots level," Dunne said.

"Riverdance - The Show," premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 1996. Dunne is doing a world tour of classes and the New Hopewell Center for the Arts was his first U.S. stop, said Kathy Windle, owner of the center.

New Hopewell Center for the Arts offers dance, art and music instruction in a 10,000-square-foot building that opened in 2003.

After his classes at the center, Dunne will go to Jacksonville, Fla.

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