Stepping into the Shawbrook shoes

On Monday September 5 Shawbrook School of Dance at Legan will open its doors to a new year of dance students. From aged four upwards, enthusiastic ballet hopefuls will grace the floorboards of the prestigious school and in doing so will learn from of one of Ireland’s most recognised dance teachers, Anica Louw.

On Monday September 5 Shawbrook School of Dance at Legan will open its doors to a new year of dance students. From aged four upwards, enthusiastic ballet hopefuls will grace the floorboards of the prestigious school and in doing so will learn from of one of Ireland’s most recognised dance teachers, Anica Louw.

“The majority of classes that we provide are classical ballet, but we do also teach other types of dance at the weekends and at workshops,” said Anica speaking to the Leader recently. “Our workshops could feature contemporary dance, jazz and physical theatre.”

In recent weeks the Shawbrook School of Dance completed a series of courses and master classes which saw the school ingratiated with legendary dance teachers from all over the world.

“It has been quite a summer for us,” said Anica who has lived in County Longford for 35 years.

“We began the season with the launch of our new performance space, Studio 3 in May at our Beech Party. Gemma Hayes opened it with her brilliant performance and since then many of the dancers who have come to us have asked to use it. It really is a beautiful environment for performance theatre, and even weddings.”

Next year’s Beech Party performance at Studio 3 will be undertaken by Liam O’Maonlai, a singer and artist who has a growing relationship with Shawbrook School of Dance.

“Liam is heading up the music ensemble of Michael Keegan Dolan’s latest production ‘Rian’. There is a huge group of them in total out here at Shawbrook at the moment rehearsing,” said Anica.

“When they have finished here they will go to the Black Box in Galway for one performance before opening at the Dublin Theatre Festival (September 29 to October 16).”

Among the many other greats to visit Shawbrook this summer were: Luke Murphy, an Irish dancer living and working in New York, Canadian dancer Aleesha Drennan who works with the Welsh National Dance Company, Taiwanese Chang I Chang who also works in New York and Christina Reaves from New York.

“These summer intensive workshops started from a need that I saw in Irish dance,” said Anica who holds a degree in theatre studies from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. “Teachers can be so careful and can keep safe with their students. Then other dancers come from outside and say ‘let’s do it like this’ – it pushes the students, challenges them and it inspires them.”

According to Anica, the intensive workshops have changed many people’s lives and careers offering young hopefuls the opportunity to explore and expand their vision of their own personal creativity. Such has been Shawbrook’s success at this, that the school now boasts five out of six finalists in the Step Up programme.

“The finalists in this programme were invited to a three-week intensive course with an American choreographer and three weeks with Luke Murphy. We were delighted that five out of these six finalists came from our school,” said Anica.

Those interested in registering for Shawbrook School of Dance for the forthcoming year are advised to contact Anica Dawson by emailing shawbrook01@gmail.com.

“I can then communicate with them about the classes and assess which class would best suit each student. They can also visit us on www.shawbrook.org,” she said.