Karana Downs dancer Sinead Watkins.
Karana Downs dancer Sinead Watkins. Alan Uthmann

Fancy footwork set to impress

UNTIL choreographer Michael Flatley and his show Riverdance burst onto the world stage more than two decades ago, Irish dance was simply a cultural hobby handed down through generations.

From performances at social gatherings and in competition, Irish dance has become a phenomenal success with Riverdance playing to audiences worldwide.

Irish dance is applauded widely for its tantalising rhythms, mind-blowing footwork and infectious music.

Ipswich's Watkins Academy of Irish Dance will stage its own end-of-year show, Celtic Beat, later this month.

Graduates of the school have returned from performing overseas to take part.

Celtic Beat will see the return of 22-year-old Sinead Watkins, of Karana Downs, who has spent the past two years touring with top Irish dance shows throughout Europe, the Middle East, the USA, South Africa, New Zealand and in Australia.

The former state and national team champion said the popularity of Irish dance was growing and growing.

"It's great for fitness, it's energetic and it's continually challenging," Ms Watkins said.

"It's fantastic being back home and I'm having a brilliant time dancing alongside my friends again."

Celtic Beat will feature a special performance from retired national champion David Folan, who has toured with Michael Flatley and has now moved into a teaching role at the Watkins Academy.

Principal teacher Sheryl Watkins taught Mr Folan from nine years of age.

She said he had done "amazing things".

This year the academy snapped up six solo and team titles at the Queensland Championships, while its dancers won many placings at Australian Championships.

Celtic Beat will be presented on Sunday, November 27, at the Ipswich Civic Centre from 2.30pm to 5pm.

Book by phoning 3810 6100 or go to www.ipswichciviccentre.com.au.

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