Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dance News!

As Niccolo Machiavelli once said, "One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others."  This past January we said goodbye to our beloved  head step dance instructor, Samantha MacKinnon.  Samantha has left the College in order to pursue her career in communications.  The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts wishes Samantha nothing but the best of luck and much success in her future endeavours.  With the absence of Samantha, comes the exciting announcement that Brittany Banks has been hired as the new head step dancing instructor.  Brittany brings a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm and experience to the College.  We are extremely lucky, excited and privileged to have her join the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts family.  

Brittany Banks

A College welcome sign for Brittany!

In case you aren't familiar with Brittany and what she brings to the College, please let me introduce her!  Brittany Banks (ABATD) is a choreographer/director/singer/actor/dancer, born and raised on PEI. She recently graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island with her Bachelor of Music degree where she majored in vocal performance with a minor in theatre studies.  She has been dancing for twenty years; beginning with step dancing, she then branched out to also train extensively in tap, highland, ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and clogging. Traveling across Canada for competitions and dance training with various instructors, past awards include Provincial Step Champion, Eastern Canadian Tap Champion, Eastern Canadian Character Champion and overall Eastern Canadian Senior Dance Champion. Brittany has also traveled to New York City to train with Dance Caravan, Orlando, Florida to perform and train at Disney World’s Epcot, Tokyo, Japan, where she represented the Atlantic provinces as the popular red head, Anne Shirley, as well as performing with the Charlottetown Festival Young Company at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  She is also well known for her involvement with the musical Anne & Gilbert at Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre, most recently portraying the role of Diana Barry and also serving as the production’s choreographer in 2010 and 2011. She has also been featured as a director and choreographer for productions such as Grease, High School Musical, Fame and Footloose (Bluefield Stage).  Welcome Brittany, to the College family!

Also joining the College team for a wee visit is Kelly MacArthur.  Kelly is teaching highland dance for the week of January 14th-16th while Kearsney is in South Africa renewing her visa.  Please let me introduce her:
Kelly MacArthur

Kelly MacArthur is a champion dancer from Cape Breton, who has competed and performed all over the world for over 30 years, with nearly every musician and band that has come out of Nova Scotia. She was the Nova Scotia Dance Ambassador for tourism for 10 years, has danced in several commercials and television specials, and was also featured in the Barra MacNeil’s video, “My Heart’s in the Highlands”. She has been teaching Highland Dance and Cape Breton Step Dance for the past 25 years, including 15 years at her own Dance Studio in Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. The school also has a professional performance troupe called the CapeLand Dancers, which is under Kelly’s direction and choreography, and consists of top level dancers from all over Cape Breton. She has also taught workshops all over Canada and the United States, and has taught at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts for the past 24 years.

Kelly has won the Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canadian Highland Dance Championship titles repeatedly, as well as many Runner-Up titles all over Canada. She has won outstanding student awards at her former dance school and the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts. Kelly was awarded, by the Governor of Maine, with an ‘Ambassador of Tourism & Culture’ Award for her work within the school systems from 1997-2004. She won the prestigious ‘Nova Scotia Woman in Business’ Award in the Arts & Culture field in 2006, and was nominated for 3 other Woman In Business awards locally and within the Province, in the Arts & Culture sector, over the past 10 years. Kelly has successfully competed and performed all over Canada, the United States and Europe, and continues to perform, both solo and with her Dance Company, at events all over the Maritimes. She has her BA in Psychology and English from UCCB. She and her husband, award winning recording engineer, Michael Shepherd (Lakewind Sound Studios) reside in Sydney with their 7 year old daughter, Drea, and their toddler son, Jera. Drea is already competing and performing in Highland & Step Dance, singing Gaelic, and taking lessons in piano and fiddle. Jera has mastered his ‘stomp’. Kelly continues to promote the preservation of the culture of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and Scotland. Through instruction and performance of music, dance and history, she hopes to keeps the traditions alive and thriving for many more generations to come!  Welcome, Kelly!

Lacey dancing in Highland Storm this past summer

Hayley dancing in Highland Storm this past summer

A big thank you to College alumni, summer staff and Highland Storm dancer, Lacey Fischer for filling Kearsney's dance shoes for the week of January 2nd-4th.  Lacey kindly stepped, er, danced in while Kearsney is away.  For the rest of the weeks that Kearsney and Kelly aren't here, Hayley Porter has generously agreed to fill in (January 7th-10th and 17th-24th).  Kearsney will be back at the College on January 25th.