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 21 Reasons for Celebrating Joan Denise Moriarty in 2012 1931 Step Dancer of England

Joan Denise Moriarty (1912?-1992) was a dancer, teacher, choreographer and founder of professional ballet in Ireland, who for in all 21 years kept a full-time professional ballet company touring the country north and south.

·         2012 is the 20th anniversary of her death and the probable centenary of her birth; it is the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Cork Ballet Company.

·         Living in England , her Mallow family cherished its Irish heritage; she was a member of the Liverpool Gaelic League and became Champion Irish Step-dancer of England in 1931.

·         She played the war pipes, competing at the Tailteann Games in Dublin in 1932, winning the Munster Open Championship in 1933 and several Feis competitions.

·         She introduced ballet to County Cork , teaching dance in Mallow from 1934, and opening the Moriarty School of Dance in Cork in November 1940.

·         She later opened branches of her school in Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford .

·         Her Cork Ballet Company gave the city an annual ballet week from 1947 to 1993, from 1956 with international guest artists and directors.

·         For 45 years she collaborated with the composer, Aloys Fleischmann, whose Cork Symphony Orchestra played for the annual ballet week from 1947 to 1993.

·         The Cork Ballet Company brought its shows to Munster towns; from 1970-1973 to Dublin’s Abbey and Gaiety Theatres with the Cork Symphony Orchestra.

·         Moriarty founded Ireland ’s first professional ballet company: Irish Theatre Ballet (1959-1964). Irish Theatre Ballet toured the length and breadth of Ireland , north and south, visiting some 70 venues annually.

·         Her second professional company, The Irish Ballet Company, later named Irish National Ballet (1973-1989) was also a touring company, bringing ballet all over the country. In addition, the company brought Moriarty’s Playboy of the Western World, with music performed by The Chieftains, to France , to Sadler’s Wells in London , and to New York .

·         Moriarty choreographed 115 original ballets for her companies She experimented with a specifically Irish form of ballet, fusing the European art with elements of Irish traditional dance.

·         She founded a Folk Dance Group, which performed at the Cork International Choral Festival, and competed successfully at festivals in France and in Germany .

1958 Folk Dance Group, Wewelsburg, Germany

·         She commissioned 60 ballets from international choreographers for her professional companies.

·         She commissioned 18 new works from Irish musicians.

·         Her Cork Ballet Company appeared on RTÉ television with 13 Irish dance programmes in 1966, her professional companies featured frequently.

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  She was the first choreographer commissioned to produce a ballet for Irish television in 1981.

·         She won the esteem and friendship of many: among them the politician Peter Barry, the composer John Buckley, the RTÉ producer and critic Norris Davidson, the sculptor and painter Marshall Hutson and his wife Clare, the Irish Times columnist Seamus Kelly, the pianist Charles Lynch, the politician Jack Lynch and his wife Máirín, the actor and writer Micheal MacLiammoir, the composers A.J. Potter and Seán Ó Riada, the Earl and Countess of Ross.

·         She was supported throughout her life by the three great ladies of dance: Alicia Markova, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois.

·         She received numerous awards for her work, including an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 1979.

·         Her legacy is present nationwide: a number of her former professional dancers have remained in Ireland and have founded dance schools and companies here.

·         She was unswerving in her dedicated commitment to the cause of developing dance and of bringing the art form to people from all walks of life, despite unfavourable conditions, opposition and adversity. Her example shows what can be achieved by one individual with a clear vision for the enrichment of the community and the ability to win others to her cause. It can serve as a beacon of hope to us in the present crisis.