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Updated: August 11, 2022 @ 4:01 am
From left: Nicholas Franco (courtesy of Winston-Salem Festival Ballet), Vincenzo Rinaggio, Anna Rinaggio, Ailish O’Brien, Emily Carson
From left: Nicholas Franco (courtesy of Winston-Salem Festival Ballet), Vincenzo Rinaggio, Anna Rinaggio, Ailish O’Brien, Emily Carson
The myths and legends of the Emerald Isle are coming to life next weekend at Sandhills Community College’s Bradshaw Performing Arts Center. Gary Taylor Dance presents “Celtic Legends,” a celebration of Irish dance and culture from fairies and leprechauns to lively jigs and “Riverdance”-inspired stepdance with performances Saturday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m.
“This is one of those rare dance programs where there is absolutely something for every- one to enjoy,” says Rita Taylor, executive director of Gary Taylor Dance. “‘Celtic Legends’ puts on full display the versatility of our performers whether they are dancing a lyrical and ethereal ballet piece or an intricate and highly synchronized tap number. And never discount the athleticism of this company!”
The show is divided into three acts, each celebrating a different style of dance and facet of Irish culture.
“The first act hearkens back to traditional tales of Gaelic fantasy with all of their mystery, mischief and beauty,” Taylor says. “It’s spellbinding and magical.”
“Act two takes us to the Irish countryside and tells a story through folk instrumentation and traditional Irish country dance elements. It gives our dancers an opportunity, too, to have a great deal of fun with the material and each other as they take the audience on this light- hearted and charming journey.”
“Finally,” says Taylor, “the third act is inspired by contemporary Celtic work like ‘Riverdance’ or ‘Lord of the Dance.’ It’s incredibly exciting, precise and high energy.”
A Pinehurst nonprofit arts organization, the performing company of Gary Taylor Dance consists of about 40 pre-professional dancers. They are joined on stage for this production by professional guest artists Ryan Taylor, Elizabeth Fowle, Alexandra Cooney and Nicholas Franco of the Winston-Salem Festival Ballet.
Among the show’s featured student dancers is Ailish O’Brien, of Vass, who will be starting at Elon University’s dance science program in the fall, where she plans to continue dancing and performing. Maybe due to her own Irish roots, O’Brien is overjoyed to be tackling the material in “Celtic Legends” and sharing it with our local audience.
A long-time performer with Imagine Youth Theater, GTD’s sister company, O’Brien says she’s most comfortable with the musical theater elements of the second act of “Celtic” but admits that it is the third act that is her favorite. “I love that it’s the hardcore Irish stepdancing; it’s something I’ve always wanted to learn. The tap piece that opens the third act is a whole ‘nother ballgame,” says O’Brien. “It’s extremely difficult, fun and dramatic. Normally, I don’t have to think about the choreography when I dance; it’s all gone to muscle memory, and I can think about elements of the performance. Here I have to do it all at once. The steps just keep coming. We execute intense precision and the audience loves it!”
“Celtic Legends” is being presented Saturday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m., at Owens Auditorium at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, Sandhills Community College. Tickets are available at www.taylordance.org and on-site 30 minutes prior to showtime. Special $15 student rush tickets are available on-site for students in groups of five or more.
For the summer, Gary Taylor Dance is offering a four-week summer dance intensive June 13 through July 8. More information is at www.taylordance. org. Imagine Youth Theater, GTD’s sister program, is offering Summer Theater Camps from July 11 through July 31. Visit https://taylordance.org/imag– ine-youth-theater/ for details.
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