It’s no secret the Gem City is bursting with talent in the performing arts. Dance is no exception.
We asked the people of Dayton to vote for their favorite dance performance group in Dayton.com’s Best of 2018 poll.
Here are the top three vote-getters, and all offer something unique and truly special.
🥇WINNER: Celtic Academy of Irish Dance
For 30 years, Celtic Academy of Irish Dance (formerly Hibernian Irish Dancers) has provided training for all ages from beginner to championship level. The troupe currently has over 140 dancers and has notably performed with many national and international bands such as Gaelic Storm, The Elders and Scythian.
“Irish dance is aerobics on fire,” said co-director Mary Laffey Beemsterboer, who shares leadership duties with her sister Laureen Laffey and began her Irish dance career at age 5 with Hibernian. “Irish music and Irish dance is just so infectious. As soon as you hear Irish music you want to dance! It’s a genuinely happy feeling. As we put specialized dance to that music, we try to make the (movement) happy, joyful and enjoyable. It’s been a wonderful 30 years.”
Beemsterboer, predominately offering original choreography for the troupe, says Irish dance is very intricate at its core and continuously evolves as well.
“The most unique part of the movement has to be crossed-over with feet turned out and the arms down when you’re dancing solo,” she explained. “We are able to do some movement side-by-side, but the majority of the time we must remain in the crossed formation. Rigid posture is also important, especially keeping your back straight and your arms inside so they don’t move. Not allowing your arms to move is the hardest part of training because it’s natural to want to use your arms in order to balance. Also unique is the fact that we aren’t allowed to push off from the heel. In ballet, dancers can land and come all the way down to ultimately push back up with the whole foot, but in Irish dance we land on our toes and we have to push off with our toes. Also, Irish dance has grown more modern so we are now mixing the traditional technique with modern techniques, which contain more of an athletic feel. We’ve actually had to figure out how to cross train our dancers so there wouldn’t be injuries.”
A significant aspect of Celtic Academy is its motto: “Dance like champions, love like family.”
The troupe travels heavily throughout greater Dayton, especially on St. Patrick’s Day with scheduled appearances at Dublin Pub, Irish Club of Dayton and Fifth Street Brewpub, and can be seen on the spring festival circuit at such events as Dayton Celtic Festival, Ohio Renaissance Festival and World A’Fair.
🥈SECOND PLACE: Dayton Ballet
The second-oldest ballet company in the United States, Dayton Ballet has become known for producing new works as well as traditional ballets. The organization is also the only dance company to establish a fund specifically to create new, full-length 21st century ballets.
🥉THIRD PLACE: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is rooted in the African-American experience while drawing from diverse, nationally-recognized and emerging choreographers.
🏆 COMPLETE GUIDE TO BEST OF DAYTON 2018 WINNERS