Dance Master Jack Lyons cultural competitive medals presented to Siamsa Tíre
Today at Siamsa Tíre – the National Folk Theatre of Ireland (NFT), Sister Marie Lyons presented a case of 35 historic medals won by her father, Irish Dance Master Jack Lyons of Ballybunion, Co Kerry. The national medals were won for both music (Jack played the concertina) and Irish dance and includes first prize for his ‘Blackbird’ dance in 1931. The presentation was followed by a display of Jack’s dance steps with a video backdrop of the Dance Master performing himself.
The medals will be entrusted to the care of Siamsa Tíre as part of its’ permanent archive. Jack Lyons was a pupil of famous North Kerry dance master Jerry Molyneux (Munnix) and all of Jacks’ hard shoe dance steps (a combination of steps passed down from Munnix and his own steps) are still used today in their purest form within the National Folk Theatre productions and taught to future generations through the NFT Training Academy. These steps have been passed on through the traditional dance master style as well as through archive footage of the original steps to keep them alive. This video footage of Jack Lyons and his steps feature heavily in one of the latest NFT productions ‘Anam’ which people can see this season.
Jonathan Kelliher, Artistic Director Siamsa Tíre and Munnix Dance Master himself accepted this presentation and said, “I am delighted to be able to say that Jacks’ steps still live on here in Siamsa Tíre - they are still danced in our shows, taught in our classes and passed on to the younger generation. I am truly honoured to be in this position to accept the medals of Jack Lyons, on behalf of the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, for those who came before us, and for those who will follow. The medals will have a safe home here at Siamsa Tíre and will be looked after and kept safe for future generations to enjoy.”
For over 50 years the National Folk Theatre of Ireland (NFT) has showcased the very best of Irish music, song and dance to audiences worldwide. Its foundation began and continues with the traditions of the old dance masters, original song and traditional music composers. Each member of the 100 strong NFT cast has been specifically trained from childhood, to perform on stage with the company in the Siamsa style. This community of performers are the backbone of what the NFT represents - a passing on of our cultural traditions from generation to generation and developing it into captivating stage productions for all to experience.
Every year, the NFT holds auditions to attract the best of traditional young talent (from age 7 – 12 years) – they then go through a minimum of three years training before they can perform on stage. This year, the NFT is extending the training programme to offer additional youth classes for teenagers (age 13-17) and adult classes (age 18 +) for those interested in learning and developing their skills in the traditional arts. These new classes will run throughout the summer and training will eventually lead to the student becoming a member of the community cast and performing with the NFT in the annual Festival of Folk summer season.
Auditions for all classes are by appointment only and this year they will be held in Teach Siamsa Finuge on Thursday 13th June 6pm – 8pm, Teach Siamsa na Carriage, Dingle on Friday 14th June 6pm – 8pm, and in Siamsa Tíre, Tralee on Saturday 15th June 10am to 6pm. Applicants must have an Irish song and dance piece prepared for their audition and can contact Siamsa Tíre on 066 7123055 to make an audition appointment. Visit: www.siamsatire.com/nft/training for further information.