A LIFE’S WORK IN ART OF DANCE
CYNTHIA AWARDED A FELLOWSHIP OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF DANCE FOR CONTRIBUTION TO BALLET
BRAY woman Cynthia Ó Dúnlaing’s life’s work as a dancer has been recognised with a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Dance.
Cynthia, a member of the academy for 60 years, travelled to London recently to receive the award.
Hundreds of dancers from Bray and all over the country will have encountered Cynthia either in class or in examinations.
The Fellowship is in recognition of her important contribution to ballet in teaching, coaching and examining not only in Ireland but extensively in many venues throughout Europe, and as far afield as Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China, Canada, the US and the United Arab Emirates.
Cynthia was only the second Irish examiner to be appointed by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). She is also only the second Irish person to be honoured with a Fellowship to the RAD – the first being Dame Ninette de Valois, born near Blessington, who founded the Royal Ballet in London and Dublin’s Abbey School of Ballet in 1927.
The high regard in which Cynthia’s integrity, professionalism, teaching standards and organisational abilities are held is reflected in the extensive correspondence she has received from ballet teachers, examiners, colleagues and pupils both from within and outside the academy.
She was inspirational to her students and idolised by the younger ones.
Retired from teaching for 17 years, she passed on some of her schools in Ireland to her daughter Sadhbh, a ballet teacher qualified in the Royal Academy of Dance. Her son Dáire was the first Irish dancer to receive the prestigious RAAD Solo Seal in ballet and he built and ran a highly successful theatre of dance in Lucerne.
Luke Rittner, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Dance, said at the ceremony that during her career Cynthia worked hard to introduce ballet into towns in Ireland.
She opened first in Tullamore County Offally in 1966 before moving to Bray, where she and her husband Séamus have lived since 1972.
‘She is known for her jaunty walk, her directness, her humour, and her scarves,’ he said.
He said that Cynthia was a very popular examiner. She would conduct mock exams and give reports to candidates to help them perform to their full potential. She also gave annual workshops on classical, free movement and character at Inchicore College of Further Education for the RAD teachers’ certificate.
She was a member of the Ireland Regional Committee and chairman from 1991 to 2001. ‘Despite sometimes precarious finances, Cynthia always managed to find a way to attract great teachers to facilitate courses,’ said Mr Rittner. ‘In 1995, she choreographed and presented the RAD 75th anniversary demonstration performance at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.’
After examining all over the world for decades, Cynthia retired in 2010. Mr Rittner said that she was ‘a constant and enthusiastic ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance.’