Music and Dance

Irish Studies To Host Fulbright Scholarships

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College will serve as the host site for two newly established Fulbright Commission of Ireland scholarships that will utilize, and enhance, the University's resources in Irish music and dance.

Beginning next fall, the Fulbright Commission will offer the Riverdance Fulbright Scholarship in Irish Dance and the Claddagh Records Fulbright Scholarship in Traditional Irish Music. The scholarships - both valued at between $10,000 to $15,000 per year and sponsored through the Irish Studies Program - will support a performer in Irish dance or music at the University for an academic year.

"We're enormously pleased at being selected by the Fulbright Commission," said Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), co-director of the Irish Studies Program. "Boston College is the only American university to offer courses in traditional Irish music and dance. The fact that the commission chose BC to host the scholarships suggests how much [Irish Studies Music Programs Director] Seamus Connolly has achieved in these areas."

"Boston College was selected to host these scholars because of the reputation Irish Studies has developed over the past 20 years in Ireland," said Irish Studies Associate Director Robert Savage. "The fact the commission chose us is a major honor and tribute, not only for Irish Studies but for the University as a whole."

Savage said the scholarships are intended to give young Irish men and women an academic and practical exposure to music, theater and dance in the US.

"These scholarships offer benefits all around," he said. "The scholars who receive them are able to take advantage of the many things Boston College has to offer, both academic and non-academic. Boston College, for its part, will have two talented, skilled people on hand who can strengthen our offerings in the Irish arts."

The Riverdance scholar, funded by the corporation managing the world-renowned stage production, will enroll in the Theater Department and work with Jesuit Artist-in-Residence Robert ver Eecke, SJ, director of the University's residence dance group the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble. During the year, he or she will attend lectures and classes in areas such as dance history and performance, choreography, costuming and promotional design.

The Claddagh Records scholarship, sponsored by one of Ireland's most eminent record companies, will be awarded to a performer of traditional Irish music. The recipient will enroll in the Music Department and study under Connolly.

Savage said an important aspect of these scholarships is they allow the recipients, who will be selected through national competitions in Ireland, to develop and follow a curriculum suited to their particular abilities and ambitions.

"Maybe there's a dancer who would like to acquire some teaching skills," he explained, "or build on his or her experience in a new way, such as exploring the relationship of Irish and liturgical dance, or gain expertise in stage production, set design, choreography, and the like.

"With the establishment of an Irish Music Center at Burns Library, meanwhile, a musician would have an excellent opportunity to do some research into the roots of Irish tradition," Savage continued. "Furthermore, the fact the Music Department and Irish Studies will be hiring an ethnomusicologist with a specialty in Irish and world music makes this opportunity even more timely."

The Fulbright Commission of Ireland, also known as the Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange, provides financial and other assistance to Irish citizens studying or undertaking research at US colleges and universities. It also administers scholarships in fields such as American studies, business studies, science and technology, and visual arts.

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