At the Kilfenora Music Festival on Saturday 23 April 2015 in Vaughans Barn, there were 2-hour Sean-Nós dancing workshops provided by Emma O’Sullivan, a seven times All-Ireland champion, and star of RTE’s “The All-Ireland Talent Show”. She also featured in the spectacular ‘1916 Centenary Concert’ shown on RTE on Easter Monday.
The first workshop was for beginners, and the second for intermediate/advanced standard.
Sean-Nós (or ‘old-style) is practised in a variety of styles throughout Ireland, but is particularly associated with Connemara in County Galway, where Emma was born and raised.
Its generally accepted characteristics – arms loose, feet low to the ground, focus on percussive beats battered out by leather-soled shoe – predate the more rigid, showy style of step dancing popularised by Riverdance, and as practised by 1000s of youngsters in competitive Irish dancing across the world (and as shown in the documentary film “Jig”). See here for a TV clip of Emma explaining this.
Emma has performed with some of the most influential acts in traditional Irish dance music including Sharon Shannon, Martin O’Connor, Lunasa, Teada, Dervish, De Dannan, Altan, Cherish the Ladies, Seamus Begley and Sean Keane to name but a few. She has danced in the United States and across Europe and Asia, and made numerous television and radio appearances in Ireland and abroad. She will make an appearance at the concert with Noel Hill, Tony Linnane and guests in Kilfenora on Saturday evening, 24 April 2015.
By the age of 24, Emma had won the All-Ireland Sean-Nós Dancing title at Oireachtas na Samhna in Letterkenny, the first of many titles. Her extraordinary drive and determination in mastering her art has seen her eclipse all other Sean-Nós dancers with creative, exciting, and masterful footwork. She found fame in early 2010 when triumphing over thousands of other acts to reach the finals of RTE’s “The All Ireland Talent Show”, partnered with melodeon player Johnny O’Halloran from the island of Inishbofin (see here). This won her widespread admiration and has made her Ireland’s best known Sean-Nós dancer and teacher.
Described by many as a natural teacher, Emma is employed full-time passing her skills to students in primary, secondary and third level institutions. She provides dance workshops in brush and barrel dancing as well as Sean-Nós, throughout Ireland and abroad.