History of the Dominic Graham School of Irish Dance
I formed the school in a town called Ballycastle on the north Antrim coast of Northern Ireland in December 1977. Over the course of the following 5 years the school opened new branches throughout the area and within a short time became one of the largest schools in the country taught by one of the youngest teachers in the country.
The school developed a reputation for being both hugely successful in the competition world as well as being a leader in creative and innovative choreography within the genre of Irish Dance we take part in.
In 1995 I decided that 9 to 5 was not for me and decided to follow my passion and expand the school and teach professionally. With a large school it was essential to develop teachers and choreographers as well as composition of music to feed the creative appetite of very ambitious pupils and teachers. During the 1990s I stated to write, choreograph, produce and direct original Irish Dance stage shows for my school, as well as other projects such as being commissioned by BBC to choreograph in the Dance for the Camera series, as well as collaborating with other dance professionals.
My first Irish Dance stage show was performed in the Lyric theatre in Belfast in 1995 and from that point on the school became very involved in performing its brand of Irish Dance to as many people as possible in as many places as possible, while at the same time continuing to excel in the competition world. During the late 1990s and early 2000s the school performed at many events and became well known in many areas of the arts for excellence and innovation.
In 2005 we were invited for the first time to perform at the Celtic World Festival in Ortiguieira in the region of Galicia, Spain, this was a seminal moment for me and my school, what followed over the next 9 years was :
4 more visits to The Celtic World Festival in Ortiguieira, 2006, 2013, 2014 and 2016
4 visits to Celtica in the Aosta Valley Italy 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2016
Additionally we made international appearances in Spain, Wales, Scotland, England, France and Sicily, as well as various television appearances and live performances.
The school in September 2014 performed its 15th annual original stage show as well as performing a 60 minute piece entitled Back to Breogan at the 30th anniversary festival of Ortigueira in July.
The Dominic Graham School although 39 years old is always very young and ambitious in its outlook and we strive for professionalism in our craft. The school has 100 pupils ranging from 3 to 33 years old employs 3 teachers and is now based in Coleraine which lays at the feet of the Giants Causeway; we attract pupils from all over Northern Ireland and beyond.
Our land has had a troubled past and even throughout the years of the troubles the school has always had a cross community policy, it is one of my biggest pleasures to know that in a significant way we have contributed to children and young people coming together to learn, enjoy and excel in a cultural pastime without the stigma of religious background playing any part.
Irish Dance and my school are my passion in life and I work every day to promote Irish Dance as well as teach and inspire my pupils to share the passion.