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Students Embrace Irish Dancing

Over term 4, our Year 10 dancers delved into the world of Irish dance under the guidance of Teresa Fenton from Kavanagh Studio. This captivating and traditional dance form presented a unique challenge, testing the girls’ musicality and memory skills. For many Santa Maria families with Irish heritage, this exploration of Irish dance has provided a delightful opportunity for students to connect with and embrace their cultural roots.

For over 32 years, Teresa has been dedicated to teaching Irish dancing at the Kavanagh Studio. In 1991, she assumed leadership of the school from her mother and aunt, who had established it in 1983. Presently, her studio is located on Oxford Street in Mount Hawthorn. However, throughout her career, Teresa has not only operated studios in O’Connor and Osborne Park but has also shared her expertise with students at numerous schools across Western Australia.

Over the course of this program, the Year 10 students have immersed themselves in mastering the traditional reel and light jig steps. They are gearing up to showcase their skills at the Awards Night, where they will perform to the enchanting sounds of ‘Siamsa’, a piece from Lord of the Dance. Interestingly, siamsa translates to “fairy” in Irish.

Teresa shares with us, “Irish dancing is a challenging form of dance that requires an unusually high level of balance as the dancers do not use their arms and are required to dance up on the ball of the foot without letting their heels drop. Fast timing and rhythm are also a feature of Irish dancing, so dancers have to think fast and let go of perfecting every move until they become comfortable with this style of dance.” 

Year 10 student Saoirse Pearson has had the privilege of dancing alongside Teresa outside of school. Teresa shares with us what qualities make Saoirse such a remarkable dancer and mentor for the younger students. 

“Saoirse is a very accomplished Irish dancer with a natural talent for picking up the varied reel, jig, hornpipe and slip jig rhythms of Irish music. She is strong, adaptable and very creative. She is also great with other dancers and is a wonderful mentor to younger dancers in our school who always has helpful suggestions when choreographing new work.” 

Dance students Saoirse and Gemma share the highlights of the program below: 

I started dancing when I was seven, and I’m still doing it, so it has been nine years of studying Irish dancing with Teresa Fenton. I’ve loved learning the intricate footwork and trying to nail a performance. The friends I have made at the studio are great, and I enjoy going to the studio for every class. This year, I placed 2nd at the State Championships and came 17th at Nationals. In the future, I’m hoping to teach Irish dancing and choreograph dances.  Saoirse Pearson

Irish dancing was an amazing experience that allowed me to broaden my dance skill set. It was unlike any other style of dance that I have done before. The steps and coordination were challenging but fun to learn. I have learned the importance of trying new skills and styles of dance, as I wouldn’t have thought that Irish dancing would be as enjoyable as it is. I had a lot of fun doing Irish dance, and I am so grateful that the school gave me this opportunity! Gemma Smart

You can find more about Teresa and her team below:

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