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.
DEIRDRA KIELY – NEW to Blas 2019!
Deirdra Kiely, a native of Touraneena, Co. Waterford is a qualified T.C.R.G. with the Ryan School Tipperary for the past 8 years. As a previous dancer with the Ryan School Deirdra has won 10 world medals, highest placing being 2nd, along with two Great Britain Titles and a Munster Title.Since joining the Ryan School teaching team, Deirdra has had the privilege to teach and guide many dancers to Champion status including two world titles.
Deirdra has toured all over the world as Lead dancer and Dance Captain in many shows such as Ragús, The Rhythms of Ireland and Flames of the Dance to name but a few. Having performed on national TV in countries such as Ireland, UK, America, China and Japan, Deirdra has also performed with world famous bands such as the Cheiftans, Solas and is currently a performer with the Kilfenora Ceilí Band.
Studying at the University of Limerick only two years ago, Deirdra graduated from the Masters in Dance Performance. Deirdra is delighted to be back in UL this Summer as part of the teaching staff for the Blas programme.
**Please note all teachers are subject to change.