Kerry Schools can immerse students in dance, music and creativity through Irish traditional arts as Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland announces the successful launch of its Scoil Programme. Open to all schools in Kerry, from February of this year, the programme focuses on creative learning through traditional folk dance, music, song and storytelling and gives access to folk arts performances and participation in folk arts activities. To date schools in Tralee, Castleisland and North Kerry have already participated and schools are already signing up for September 2023.
By bringing the traditional creative arts to schools, pupils not only gain the benefits of physical activity, wellbeing and social skills, it also gives a new generation access to the traditional arts heritage handed down through Siamsa Tíre.
Schools can engage in one off workshops, 3-10 week class series and longer-term programmes spanning one or multiple terms or the entire school year, including an end of term/year performance. These can be tailored to suit the needs of each school.
Siamsa Tíre’s Scoil programme has grown from the many years’ experience and is led by experienced Siamsa Tíre members Jonathan Kelliher – artistic director, teacher and performer; Joanne Barry – repertory director, teacher and performer; Anne McDonnell – training and development officer, teacher and performer; Olivia Hope – multi award nominated children’s author.
Siamsa Tíre’s return to the classroom is a long-established Kerry tradition of Irish dance masters and musicians passing on their skills to new generations of students. Jonathan Kelliher, Artistic Director of National Folk Theatre of Ireland and Munnix Dance Master learned his skills from the Kerry dance masters throughout his youth and has continued his mastery over the years. More recently he has returned to dancing with his original dance master Jimmy Hickey of North Kerry to continue learning the extended repertoire of traditional Munnix dance steps. During these sessions he is videoing these unique steps as they uncover some long–forgotten steps and document the vast repertoire of Munnix Dance while learning the steps to ensure they continue to be passed on to future generations.
Jonathan Kelliher, Artistic Director, Siamsa Tíre comments, “We are delighted with the interest in the programme already this year and we looking forward to bringing this programme to more schools in the autumn. Munnix dance has been a lifelong passion fulfilled through being a student of Siamsa Tíre, The National Folk Theatre of Ireland and then working with Siamsa Tíre and performing these wonderfully unique steps to generations of visitors to Kerry. It has been very exciting to be back working with Jimmy Hickey and even more exciting to work with our team to create this new programme to share our extensive cultural skills with Kerry schools and carry on these traditions to the next generation.”
Artistic Director Jonathan Kelliher has worked professionally in the Arts, performing and directing, for over 30 years, taught in the National Folk Theatre’s Academy and recently led workshops in the Department of Education’s BLAST Arts in Education programme and the Irish Arts Council’s Teacher and Artist Partnership (TAP) programme in primary schools in Co. Kerry.