BY SEÁN P. FEENY
BALLYBOFEY woman Chantal McCormick and her company Fidget Feet have just finished hosting the fourth annual Irish Aerial Dance Festival in Letterkenny.
Ninety dance students and more than twenty tutors were resident in the Cathedral town for the duration with classes and performances taking place in An Grianán and The Aura Leisure Centre.
Speaking to the Donegal News Chantal explained that this year’s festival included a third week which was funded by the Leonardo project.
“It involves four different partners from four different parts of the world, France, Hungary, the UK and Spain. We kept ten international people here for the week with some of our teachers coming are from America Coatsa Rica and the UK,” she said.
In total, there were 21 tutors involved in the Irish Aerial Dance Festival across three different sites in Donegal last week.
The festival has gone from strength to strength every year and this year was exciting for Chantal and her colleagues and they managed to hire to whole of the Aura Leisure Centre.
“The very first festival we only had 35 participants and we only had one third of the centre but now we had all threw bays, as well as the community centre and the theatre.
“Without the support of An Grianán Theatre we wouldn’t be able to host the festival,” she said.
This is the only festival of its kind in Ireland and one of the very few in Europe.
“I was funded by the Arts Council to go to an event in Colorado – the first aerial dance festival in the world and – and I was so inspired that knew I wanted to do something like that in Ireland,” she said.
“This year we tried something new. We had a cabaret featuring local and international artists and that worked really well and we got more people.
“Some people might feel it’s exclusive and that’s the hardest part of running the festival but I know the theatre has been working hard to build the audience.
“The festival has attracted some of the biggest names in the business.
“We had a new teacher that came from Montreal where she worked with two of the biggest companies based there – Cirque du Soleil is the more commercial one, but she worked with Cirque Éloize and Les 7 doigts de la main, two renowned Montreal companies.
“We also had a girl from Costa Rica who’s returning with her dance troupe next year.
“We’re already in talks with Donegal County Council and Earagail Arts to see if we can partner up and do four weeks to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the festival in 2014.
“We would also like to get into the Guinness Book of Records for having the most Aerial artists in the air at the one time in the Aura to celebrate the anniversary,” she said.
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