A sweet, red and pink valentine, adorned with hearts and glitter?
Or perhaps a bouquet of roses from that special someone?
Or maybe something sparkly and wrapped in a bow?
Cards, flowers, and presents are always welcome on Valentine's day, but what every Irish dancer [and non-dancers] really wants on this holiday is inherently simple. The best gift of all is LOVE! What Irish dancer hasn't dreamt about falling in love with the man [or woman] of their dreams, who also shares their passion for Irish dance? Many of us dancers are lucky enough to find love, without the side of Irish dance, but a lucky few dancers have fallen in love with someone special who shares their love for Irish dance. Two of these unique couples that have found happiness, success, love, and marriage through Irish dance are Bernadette Flynn and Damien O'Kane, and Sheila Ryan Davoren and Tony Davoren.
Bernadette Flynn and Damien O'Kane are one of my absolute favorite Irish dancing couples. Bernadette and Damien have toured the world together, staring as leads in Lord of the Dance. Both joined the original LOTD cast in 1996. With dozens of championship titles [Bernadette having won the World's a whopping 6 times!] and a pair of TCRGs between them, they are one of the most talented Irish dancing couples to grace the stage. On the small screen, they performed together in the 2009 NBC series, "Superstars of Dance." In addition to their talents on stage and screen, this leading couple has inspired and coached hundreds of up-and-coming dancers as instructors at Camp Rince Ceol. Damien and Bernie [as she's lovingly called] married in 2005. I was lucky enough meet Damien and Bernadette while working as a counselor at Camp Rince Ceol, and I just adore these two. They are a triple threat: amazingly talented, sincerely kind, and dare I say, incredibly good looking to boot! Honestly, how can you not love them? After watching these two stunning duets and heartwarming interviews, I actually might adore this couple even more than I already thought possible...
My other hands-down, favorite Irish dancing couple is Sheila Ryan Davoren and Tony Davoren [although Tony isn't technically a dancer himself]. After competing on the World Championship level with the Golden School and later earning her TCRG in 1993, Sheila was one of the first American dancers to be asked join the cast of Riverdance in 1996. Hailing from Wicklow, Ireland, Tony was one of the original musicians to tour with Riverdance and is featured on not one, but two Grammy award winning recordings ["Riverdance: The Show" and "The Long Black Veil"]. Sheila also directed and produced "Dancing at the Crossroads," an instructional ceili video. Tony, an accomplished producer, directed the video's music. His musical talents are evident in this 1996 Riverdance performance of "Oscail an Doras." [Sorry, no video of Sheila's beautiful dancing. She'll tell you herself that Tony got all the screen-time!]
After falling head over Irish dancing heels for one another while touring with Riverdance, Tony and Sheila married in 2002. They are happily raising their three beautiful children, Roisin, Aoife, and Malachy. Tony and Sheila's successes are extensive, but they are best known in the Irish dance community for the original place "where Irish dancers spend their summers" ...Camp Rince Ceol! Tony and Sheila's camp is a labor of love. The camp allows dancers to spend their summer learning first-hand from stars of the Irish dance world in an incredibly fun, non-competitive environment that fosters true friendships. As a former camper and counselor myself, I know first hand the unique environment Tony and Sheila have created for Irish dancers. The memories and freindships created at Camp Rince Ceol are cherished by countless dancers worldwide [including me!]. Camp Rince Ceol is extraordinary, all thanks to Tony and Sheila.
Tony and Sheila, and Bernadette and Damien are two real-life Irish dancing fairy-tale love stories. Both of these Irish dancing power-couples showcase their talents and love for Irish culture [and each other] in the instructor's showcase from Camp Rince Ceol 2011. Enjoy!
Happy Valentine's Day dancers! Hope it is filled with lots of love... and chocolate!
All of the dresses featured in this post [with the exception of Julia O'Rourke's] are currently for sale online. If you're interested in one, click the links below.
Red and white hearts [Doire Dress Designs by Shauna Sheils]
Black and white with roses [Chantelle]
Black, white, and red with bows [Celtic Star]
Red and black with white roses [Elevation Designs by Gavin Doherty]: