On Friday, the 9th July 2021, the College of Dance held its end of year graduation ceremony. This is an incredibly special day at the College of Dance that was celebrated by the students, faculty, board of directors and the student’s families. For everyone 2021 was a strange year. Collectively, we grew accustomed to living with a global pandemic. Restriction slowly eased, then were put back in place, then slowly started to eased again. As a nation, we started to receive the Covid vaccine and the signs of grass roots recovery from Covid started to show.

Like most organisation, the College of Dance faced and overcame a series of challenges. Students danced in the studio, they danced on zoom in their bedrooms, front rooms, back rooms and gardens. During the warmer months, they danced in outdoor marquees and amazingly, although it was behind closed doors and with no audience, they got to dance on a theatre stage as we recorded the College’s Graduation Performance 2021.

Through all these adversities, the key factors that kept everything moving forward was the unwavering dedication, absolute resilience and unbreakable positivity of each and every student and teacher. This year, more than any other, the end of year graduation ceremony was truly a very special event.


The College of Dance Graduation Ceremony took place on the last day of term. It had already been an exciting day as the students had been working with a professional film crew, recording of our new marketing video… (more on this in another post). The official graduation ceremony took place from 5pm in the main hall at St. Catherine. Sadly, due to covid restriction, the number of attendees was strictly limited, but every student has at least one family member present. For the first time ever, the whole ceremony was broadcast live on zoom to allow family members who could not attend, had contracted covid and the families of our international students, to be a part of the ceremony.

The graduation started with a welcome speech from Artistic Directors, Bernadette O’Rourke and Samantha Lyons. After this each student then either received their Diploma for completing the College’s two-year course or Certificate for completing the one-year course. It was brilliant to see a room so full of smiling, happy students and families. Once completed, this was then followed by a speech by the College of Dance’s Chairperson, Matthew Duffy. The formal ceremony was then closed by the College students. There was a speech by Sinead Richardson, of the senior graduating students, before a live performance of one of the students’ favourite musical theatre songs. After the graduation finished, everyone was invited to the gardens of St. Catherine’s where people could catch up, mingle and sadly for some say their ‘goodbyes’ to faculty members.


For everyone involved in the College, as well as the student’s families, the final student performance is incredibly special. For this cohort of students their performance during the graduation ceremony is the last time they perform as a group. This year, the students decided to perform an uplifting version of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, a perfect song choice for the occasion. Their performance had the entire audience on their feet, singing and cheering along. It was wonderful to see all the students smiling, some with a few tears in their eyes. It was a gorgeous way for many of the students to end their time at the College and created a special memory for those returning next year.


For students who reach the end of their two-year diploma course, the day holds increased significance. For many, being part of the College family has been some of the happiest times in their lives. Students have grown as dancers and performers to a standard they did not expect to reach. They have made lifelong friendships and spent two years living their best lives. They have performed in shows and events. They’ve taken masterclasses and guest workshops. They learnt new skills and grown in confidence. For many their time at the College has encourgaed them to grow as individuals. As our diploma students take their next steps in their professional careers, we could not be prouder of them. Best of luck. You’ll always be a part of the College of Dance’s family.


Once all of the formalities conclude everyone retreated to the gorgeous gardens at St. Catherine’s. This is a really lovely end to the event. Students, parents and faculty get to mingle. To catch up and chat. To giggle and laugh with each other. To share emotions and the odd tear. To say thank you, we love you and good luck. Quite often this is also the time where students give each faculty member gifts and cards. Each year we love to see the comedy gifts that the second years tend to buy the two Artistic Directors as a memento of their time at the College of Dance. This year they both received some beautiful framed wall art depicting their favourite saying used by Sam and Bernie in class.

For those students who are returning to school after completing their transition year course, or for those who have graduated and are moving away to third-level educators, this is the time when the Artistic Directors give them words of encouragement.  They are told how proud we all are of each and every one of them, they are reminded to keep their head held high, focus on their goals and enjoy the journey.

To each and every student, well done. You are brilliant and beautiful. We can’t wait to see you again.

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