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Centenary gala for Joan Denise Moriarty

Posted on February 1, 2012


moriartyfoleyJoan Denise Moriarty (pictured with Alan Foley) the Irish dancer, teacher and choreographer, will be celebrated with a gala celebration in Shandon, Cork this March.


Moriarty was born in Mallow, County Cork, in 1912, and spent some of her childhood in England. She was a champion Irish stepdancer, and trained in ballet with Marie Rambert. She founded the Cork Ballet Company in 1947. In later years, the Cork Ballet Company became Moriarty’s amateur company, as she founded two professional companies, Irish Theatre Ballet and the Irish National Ballet. As a choreographer, Moriarty often focused on Irish themes, combining folk dance and music with classical ballet. Her best-known work was The Playboy of the Western World, with music by Irish folk band The Chieftans. Moriarty also founded the Firkin Crane Dance Centre in Cork, and continued working with her amateur company until shortly before her death in 1992.


The gala will be held at the Firkin Crane Theatre in Shandon, Cork, with three performances from March 22–24. It will be directed by Alan Foley, founder and director of Cork City Ballet, who trained at the Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance. The programme includes a new adaptation of The Playboy of the Western World, choreographed by former Irish National Ballet dancer Patricia Crosbie.


The gala will also feature excerpts from other Moriarty ballets, including Lugh of the Golden Arm, plus the Corsaire pas de deux, the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre, staged by Joanna Banks. The Royal Swedish Ballet’s Marie Lindqvist will appear in dances from The Sleeping Beauty, partnered by Dragos Mihalcea. In November 2012, Cork City Ballet will tour Ireland with a new production of The Sleeping Beauty.


Alan Foley said: “I am delighted that we at Cork City Ballet are in a position to celebrate the work of the most iconic figure in ballet in Ireland – Dr Joan Denise Moriarty. As one of only two professional ballet companies in Ireland, we are very proud to continue the legacy of this remarkable woman from Cork.”


Tickets for the gala are available from or by phoning 021 4507 487. See for more information.


Picture: Alan Foley with Joan Denise Moriarty. Photograph courtesy of Cork City Ballet

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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