Tuesday, 23 May, 2017 - 17:44
Step Up 2017 Participants
Celine Jaffe, Sarah Greene, Niamh Kelly, Bianca Paige Smith and Oran Leong

Step Up is a partnership between Dance Limerick, Dance Ireland, the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick and the Arts Council, which aims to bridge the gap between dance education and professional contemporary dance practice in Ireland.

This year five exceptional dancers have been selected to work with renowned choreographer Gary Clarke on Step Up Dance Project 2017. The successful dancers, selected from a competitive Open Call earlier this year, are:

Bianca Paige Smith
Bianca Smith, from NJ, USA is currently living in Limerick, having just completed her MA in Contemporary Dance Performance at the University of Limerick. She holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She is primarily trained in traditional Irish dance with experience in hip-hop, lyrical and ballroom dance. Most recently Bianca created Two Can Do, which premiered at 2017 Limerick Fringe Festival. The work was awarded the Most Innovative Show. She has also received Arts Council Funding to train in Brussels to continue evolving the work. Two Can Do will be performed at Culture Night in Dance Limerick this September.

Celina Jaffe
In 2010 Celina received a dual BA from Indiana University in French and International Studies with a minor in Contemporary Dance. Since then, she has performed various dance styles across the US, Ireland, and France. She also studied contact improvisation under Nancy Stark-Smith and Charlie Morrissey. Celina is on a full scholarship from Enterprise Ireland pursuing an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance at UL. Her recent work includes dancing, acting, and singing for four professional theatre and dance companies in Indianapolis, Indiana and choreographing solos and films for her MA. You can next catch Celina performing at Limerick Culture Night on 22 September.

Sarah Greene
Originally from Kildare but living in Scotland Sarah Greene is a 4th year student at The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance. She is a strong, creative, technically trained dancer with experience in cunningham, contact improvisation, physical theatre and ballet techniques. Sarah has an interest in physical theatre and improvisation and has recently worked as a rehearsal director, assistant choreographer and soloist in Rite of Spring as part of Aspire Dundee Project.

Niamh Kelly
Niamh Kelly is a graduate from the BA Voice and Dance at the University of Limerick who is now based in Cork. She recently received a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to take part in an intensive 3 week workshop with the Irish Aerial Creation Centre in Clare learning aerial dance skills and takes part in their yearly festival. Niamh has also competed in the Intervarsities All Ireland Dance Competition placing first in contemporary dance in 2015 and has worked as an assistant choreographer with Cork based dance company New Moon Youth Dance Co.

Oran Leong
Half Irish, half Chinese, Oran calls Dublin home. An Irish dancer for nearly 19 years, he competed regionally and internationally before obtaining his TCRG (teaching credentials) in 2016. He was first introduced to contemporary dance by Mariam Ribón and the Dublin Youth Dance Company (2014-2016) and is now completing an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. In 2013 he graduated with a double honours BA in music and an Nua-Ghaeilge (Modern Irish) from Maynooth University. Oran feels incredibly blessed and grateful for every opportunity and support he has received to pursue art.

Following four weeks of intensive classes and rehearsals, Step Up will culminate in the performance of an engaging new contemporary dance work, directed by Gary Clarke, which will tour Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin. Performances will take place over the last days of the project. Guest dance teachers will also work with the participants over the five week period.

Now in its seventh year, Step Up 2017 sees an expanded programme which will enhance these dancers’ professional networks by connecting them to the Irish contemporary dance community and thereby improving their professional opportunities in Ireland.

This new expanded programme includes the following elements:
- Creation & Performance
- Repertory Programme
- Dancers as Entrepreneurs
- Personal Development

30 August | Dance Limerick
31 August | Nun's Island Theatre, Galway
1 September | Firkin Crane, Cork
2 September | DanceHouse, Dublin

Step Up is a partnership between the Arts Council, Dance Limerick, Dance Ireland and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at UL.


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Dance Limerick exists to support the development of professional dance artists within the Limerick region and beyond.

Through a combination of performance platforms, residency opportunities, master classes, talks and lectures, Dance Limerick will advocate for artistic dialogue and exchange. In collaboration with dance artists across a range of practices, Dance Limerick will promote the creation of new and innovative work and will devise programmes of access, engagement and participation for the wider public.

Based at the premises of the former Daghdha Dance Company, Dance Limerick houses offices and a fully equipped studio space along with a separate performance venue known as the Daghda Space

Further information about facilities and opportunities for professional dance artists available from Jenny Traynor at