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Learning to fly in Donegal

Aerial dance at An Grianán Theatre

Conor Malone


Conor Malone



Learning to fly in Donegal

The Irish Aerial Dance Festival kicked off in Letterkenny last weekend.

Now in its eighth year, the IADF is the brainchild of Fidget Feet – Ireland's foremost aerial dance theatre company headed by Ballybofey woman Chantal McCormick and her husband, Jym Daly. Fidget Feet are recognised and respected worldwide as one of the leading exponents in the art of aerial dance, having performed to over 80,000 people in locations across the globe as far south as New Zealand and as far north as Iceland.

The festival features a packed schedule of classes and workshops in various Letterkenny locations, including An Grianán Theatre, the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny Community Centre and Aura Leisure Centre, covering such disciplines as fabric, cocoon, Roue Cyr, trapeze, rope, wall-running, counterweight and more. It’s not just for experts, either – there are classes to suit all levels from beginner to highly skilled.

In addition to the workshops there’s also three big performance events which all take place at An Grianán. "Hang On", Friday, June 2nd, at 9pm, mixes an aerial dance trapeze duet with musical performance in a thrilling battle of the sexes which is highly physical, raw, sometimes sexy and always real.

The following night, Saturday, June 3rd, at 7.30pm, sees an International Aerial Circus double bill featuring performers from The Netherlands and Costa Rica. "Flashback" – the Costa Rican piece – is about an angel falling to earth and experiencing human feelings, emotions and memories, while the Dutch offering – "Hand in Hand", performed by Maartje Fijen & Saar Rombout - depicts the meeting of a dancer and a circus artist as they try to establish trust in each other, while they dance in the air and float over the floor.

The final night is the Emma Insley Circus Night on Saturday, June 10th, at 7.30pm. This is an annual fixture in the IADF programme, which allows students to showcase their work – whether it be a piece created during the two-week festival especially for the show, or something they brought to the festival themselves to refine and polish.

In addition to the above workshops and events there will also be a free symposium, "Celebrating 20 years of Aerial Dance in Ireland", taking place in An Grianán Theatre on Saturday, June 10th, from 2pm til 6pm.

Hosted by Dr. Tina Carter, and with contributions from Fidget Feet Artistic Director Chantal McCormick, this symposium is an opportunity for the aerial community to discuss the status and plan the development of the aerial community, and there will also be an announcement of some exciting projects, including two EU projects and the Irish Aerial Creation Centre’s move to new premises in Limerick city centre.

The Irish Aerial Dance Festival began last Sunday, May 28th, and continues until Saturday, June 10th. You’ll find a full rundown of all the available workshops on the festival website, irishaerialdancefest.com.

Tickets for the shows can be purchased at An Grianán, on 074 912 0777 or www.angrianan.com.