Lauren Smyth

LAUREN SMYTH – NEW to Blas 2018!

Born in Co.Down, Northern Ireland, Lauren started dancing at the age of 4 with the Festival tradition of Irish dance. This tradition of dance is mainly based in Ulster. Throughout her competitive career Lauren won many regional championships with the St.Patricks School including the Ulster and Northern Ireland titles numerous times. She transferred to the Reilly School of Irish dance in her late teens where her success in competition continued.

Touring the world following her passion had always been Lauren’s dream and in 2007 she joined the Irish dance show Rhythm of the Dance where she toured the world extensively performing the lead role for 3 years. In 2010 she then went on to fulfil her life long ambition in joining Riverdance. She is the first female from the Festival tradition to become a principle dancer with the show and has been proudly leading the troupe around the world since 2011. The highlight of her career to date was when she stepped out on stage as the principle female in Belfast’s Odyssey Arena to a home crowd.

This is Lauren’s first year teaching with the Blas Summer School. Lauren loves teaching and finds it extremely rewarding working with and inspiring the next generation of dancers. She particularly loves to see the passion and energy that each dancer brings with them to the summer schools like this and she is really looking forward to each dancer’s take on the Festival Slip Jig this summer.





Edwina Guckian

EDWINA GUCKIAN – NEW to Blas 2018!

Sean Nós dancer Edwina Guckian hails from outside the village of Drumsna in Co. Leitrim. She learned her dancing from her mother and the local dancers of Leitrim and Roscommon. Her style is greatly influenced by the style of local music she grew up listening and dancing to.

Music plays as much an important role as dancing does in Edwina’s life. “As much as I love dancing, it would be nothing without the music”. She began learning the fiddle from Irene Guckian and her grandfather Ned Lee at the age of 9. She then picked up the tin whistle learning from local man, Padraig Sweeney and Tipperary’s Seán Ryan and in recent years she has taken up the concertina. Edwina decided to further her love of music by studying it in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra where she later achieved a degree in Music, English and Education and graduated as a primary school teacher in 2010.

Having started teaching dancing at the age of 16, Edwina has now taught her steps and toured with shows and bands in every continent all over the world. She has shared the stage with some of Ireland’s most influential acts such as Altan, De Danann, Dervish, Mairtín O Connor, Frankie Gavin, Kíla, Martin Hayes, Séamus Begley, We Banjo 3 and Beoga to name a few. Edwina worked as choreographer on director Ken Loach’s latest film, Jimmy’s Hall, nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. She also worked as a guest presenter on RTE’s children’s arts programme The Beo Show.

Edwina is the sole force behind her dance club “Sean Nós ar an tSionann”. She has singly revived the old style of dancing in her area and believes there is not a house in any parish in Sligo, Leitrim or Roscommon now that a child can’t get up and knock sparks out of the floor with a few steps. The club, which is now in it’s 13th year, has over 500 members, 11 teachers and is based in Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo and Longford with pop up weekend workshops around the rest of the country. Sean Nós Dancing is the main style of dancing taught at the club but throughout the year the dancers also learn set dancing, 2 hand dances, Lindy Hop, Tap Dance, Jiving, Flatfooting and contemporary dance.

In 2006, she was awarded Leitrim County Council Arts person of the Year and in 2015 awarded Leitrim Business Person of the Year by the Irish Enterprise Board with a €20,000 award fund for her latest project “The Dance Movement” which launched in April 2017. It is an online learning hub for dancers worldwide with courses in all styles of Irish dance with the modern day dance masters of Ireland.

In 2015 Edwina left her full time primary school teaching career to focus on her personal development in dance and business. In July 2015 she launched her first Sean Nós Dance tutorial and performance DVD “Second Nature” which she has sold more than 2500 copies worldwide to date. For the past 7 years she has been the dance teacher in residency at the Joe Mooney Summer School and annually teaching at the South Sligo Summer, O’ Carolan Summer School, Scoil Gheimhridh Ghaoth Dobhair to name a few. August 2016 saw her launch the first of her children’s summer camps at Sean Nós ar an tSionann in Sligo and Leitrim which were a huge success.

Most recently she has collaborated with Zogma Dance Company from Quebec, a project supported by Culture Ireland and the Arts Council and commissioned by The Dock Arts Centre for it’s 10th anniversary. The show “Sokalo” toured Ireland in September 2015 and March 2016 and Quebec in May & Sept 2016. Zogma’s interest in Irish dance stems from the links between their form of percussive dance, and indeed Quebec folk dance, that specifically traces its roots back to traditional Irish and French-Canadian dancing. The show also features Irish artists Laoise Kelly, Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Liam Scanlon.

In 2015/2016 Edwina has been involved in a project she is very passionate about; The Leitrim Equation – a performance in music, words and dance. Working with artists Eleanor Shanley, Vincent Woods, Padraig McGovern, Donal Lunney, Dave Sheridan and John McCartin.

In 2016 and 2017, with the aid of The Arts Council of Ireland and Leitrim Arts Office she hosted a hugely successful, week long dance residency at the Dock Arts Centre with artists Nic Gareiss, Ultan O’ Brien and Danny Diamond. This lead to Edwina setting up The Leitrim Dance Project which runs many dance events monthly across Co. Leitrim, open to all cultures and communities to partake in, including the Lough Allen Dance Weekend and Effrinagh Crossroads Dance.

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James GreenanJAMES GREENAN – NEW to Blas 2018!

James is from Cootehill Co. Cavan and began dancing at the age of 10 for the Mona Ní Rodaigh School of Irish Dance in Dundalk. James enjoyed a successful competitive career winning every major title, including the coveted World Championships. As a professional dancer he has toured the world with prestigious productions including Breandán de Gallaí‘s Noċtú, Prodijig’s Footstorm, and Riverdance, in which he has performed the principal role for the past seven years.

James recently established his own dance company AfterLife, through which he challenges the boundaries of Irish dance, fusing elements of street, hip-hop and modern music. James has also founded his own practice Vigor, which incorporates sports massage therapy and personal training to improve the overall health and wellbeing of dancers. 









Ciara is an honours B.A. graduate in Irish music and dance from the University of Limerick. At the age of three, Ciara began dancing under the instruction of her mother Anne Callanan. In 2001, she continued her competitive career with Michael Ryan, whose love of dance and amazing work ethic hugely influenced Ciara’s dance journey. Seven times provincial champion and a top 10 World championship medal holder for eight consecutive years, Ciara has toured extensively with shows such as Ragus-the Show, Irish Legends and Titanicdance. She has shared the stage with The Chieftains, De Danann and Tèada and has choreographed shows for Siamsa Tíre – The National Folk Theatre of Ireland. Ciara also enjoys playing harp, whistle and piano and has travelled the world playing music with her father Seán Ryan.

Throughout Ciara’s competitive dance career, it was always her dream to perform with Riverdance. Having attended the 2015 Riverdance Summer School in Dublin, she was thrilled to be chosen to dance with Riverdance in the Gaiety Theatre and then go on to tour the world. Ciara was delighted to return as head mentor and chaperone for the 2016 and 2017 Summer Schools in Boston and Dublin. 

Ciara is always excited about returning to the Irish World Academy and she so looking forward to Blas 2018.








Michael Ryan, a native of Co. Tipperary has been teaching Irish-dancing for over 20 years throughout Waterford, Cork and Tipperary. With a school of dedicated and accomplished pupils his is recognized internationally as one of the premier Irish-dancing schools. As well as having pupils ranked and title-holders of major championships such as All-Ireland, Munster, Great Britain, British Nationals, All-Scotland, and of course the World Championships he encourages and directs his pupils to pursue performance Irish Dance.

Michael is also a valued member of the faculty at The University of Limerick where he is a tutor of the B.A. and M.A. programme in The Irish Academy of Music and Dance. When not in class in Ireland, he is often invited to teach master classes in Australia, Canada and the U.S.A, to name a few.

Michael is also renowned for his choreography of such well-known shows as Flames of the Dance, The Booley House, Draíocht, and of course Ragus. Ragus has been touring the world for the past 13 years and is notably one of the best live shows to date.

Michael believes in encouraging his pupils to take part in shows when they are not busy practising for dance championships. “Shows and events like Take The Floor help keep dance alive and are a great showcase for the student’s talents”, comments Michael. As a result, many of his former pupils have gone on to have very successful dance careers in their own right.








**Please note all teachers are subject to change.