Bray People - - NEWS -

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.’

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