Dance Academy Wins Big At International Competition

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Maria Nix, Evangeline O'Dowd, Hannah Nix, Jody O'Donnell and Akie O'Rourke. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Maria Nix, Evangeline O’Dowd, Hannah Nix, Jody O’Donnell and Akie O’Rourke. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

A KERRY based dance group has came back with top awards from an international dance competition.

The Academy of Dance under the directorship of Clarissa Michaux were selected to represent Ireland and competed in the International Dance Competitions in Barcelona over the Easter weekend.

They were placed first overall for Artistic and Creative Costumes with a special mention from the jury for performance quality of ‘Alice’. The academy also came third in the overall national dance section.

The International event drew in over 890 dancers from five continents, so getting there in the first place had already been a tremendous honour.

The competition was judged over a variety of dance styles ranging from classical ballet to tap to modern hip-hop.

Team Ireland International 2015 comprised of dancers, Sophie Hand, Maria Nix, Hannah Nix, Aki O’ Rourke, Evangeline O’Dowd, and Jodie O’Donnell.

Director Clarissa Michaux, Costumier Marian O’ Dowd and Production Team Una O’Neill.

Behind the success is ballerina Clarissa Michaux. Originally from Clahane Castlegregory, she has trained at the College of Dance in Dublin, before moving on to prestigious Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London.

After graduating, Clarissa, went onto to work as a professional dancer in various companies around the world, in Ireland and the UK. Garnering a wealth experience along the way she wanted to bring her expertise back home.

“There is a demand for people to take on dance as a career in Kerry, but it has been very difficult for people to make that stepping stone because everything is so far away,” said Clarissa Michaux.

“When I started my training, there wasn’t much in Kerry for anyone who wanted to become a dancer and that always stuck in my mind. I decided that I had to fight so much for myself, I’d bring it back home so people wouldn’t have to fight as much,” she said.

Clarissa, set up The Academy of Dance four years ago and it now boast around 100 members.

In that time she has travelled around teaching in different parts of Kerry and it’s testament to the high level tutorship that, even without a studio to call home, the academy can reach such heights on the international stage.

“We’re achieving an awful lot in such a short space of time for such a small school. After a bit of rest we will be concentrating on exams. In the future we are looking at twinning with a UK school along with exhibitions and more competitions,” she said.


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