An accomplished young Irish harpist and two performers from the popular "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance" shows will begin studying this fall at Boston College as the first recipients of Fulbright Commission Scholarships in music and dance.
Sponsored through the Irish Studies Program, the scholarships - which provide support for one academic year - are intended to give young Irish men and women an academic and practical exposure to music, theater and dance in the US.
Padraigin Caesar, a student at Trinity College in Dublin, is the Claddagh Records Fulbright Scholar in Traditional Irish Music. She will be enrolled in the Music Department and study under Irish Studies Music Programs Director Seamus Connolly.
The winners of the Riverdance Fulbright Scholarship in Irish Dance are Fiona Harold and Yzanne Cloonan. They will enroll in the Theater Department and work with Jesuit Artist-in-Residence Robert ver Eecke, SJ, director of the University's resident dance group, the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble.
"It's a tremendous vote of confidence to have Irish students come here to study and work in Irish music and dance," said Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), co-director of the Irish Studies Program. "It's also a validation of Seamus' efforts in making Boston College a resource for Irish music and dance."
Caesar, who is completing her undergraduate studies in music and history at Trinity, has won national titles in every age category for harp at the Fleadh Ceol na hEireann , Ireland's annual music and dance competition. She also won the national title for singing at the 1989 Fleadh Ceol . Among her past performances was a 1992 US tour as a member of the Belfast Harp Orchestra, during which they appeared with the Chieftains at several venues, including Carnegie Hall.
"Padraigin has an incredible string of achievements and we're happy to welcome her here," said Connolly, who added that he hopes to involve her in his project to record a comprehensive anthology of Irish dance music pieces.
A three-time world and all-Ireland champion in Irish dance, Harold has performed in "Lord of the Dance" since it began in 1996, and became dance captain and lead dancer when the show began its American tour in 1997. Harold studied ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance at the Dublin College of Dance from 1995-96.
Cloonan, a Galway native, is performing in one of the "Riverdance" touring companies.
"I look forward to getting to know Fiona and Yzanne," said Fr. ver Eecke. "My understanding of the scholarship program is that it will allow them to be exposed to different forms of dance, as well as other elements of stage, dance history and performance, choreography, costuming and promotional design. They will certainly have the opportunity to do that here, and our hope is they will share their expertise as well."
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