EOIN MAC DONNCHA INTERVIEW

National Dancer of the Year winner, performing for the Queen and so much more, read Eoin’s story

INTERVIEW WITH EOIN MAC DONNCHA

Eoin was relatively late to dance only starting training at age nineteen. Before that he had only done two contemporary classes in his home town in Galway. His journey since then has been phenominal. Training at one of the best centres of excellence in Europe and working with some of the most notable contemporary choreographers in the world. Eoin has also received a number of accolades throughout his professional career. 

In Eoin’s interview, he talks about his memories from being at the College of Dance, some of the amazing professional performances he has been involved with and gives some very direct and clear advice for students wishing to become a professional dancer.

When did you start dancing?

I started my dance training with the College of Dance at the age of 19, prior to that I had only done two classes of contemporary dance back in Connemara, Co. Galway. So I had no dance training before the College of Dance.

What was your first day like at the College of Dance?

I remember being extremely excited to be learning something I felt very passionate about, even though I had no idea what I was doing. I read the uniform requirements and saw black pants and a white T-shirt, so I rocked up to ballet in black suit pants, that’s how clueless I was about ballet and dance in general. I lifted my leg in what, I can only imagine, was a terrible arabesque at the time and my Ballet teacher walked past saying ‘there is potential there but maybe some more flexible pants for tomorrow!’ I remember then seeing my Jazz teacher and how flexible and trained her body was and thought I want that. Then my contemporary teacher with her grace, I remember saying to myself ‘I’ll have all that!’

What has been your professional journey since leaving the College?

After my two wonderful years at the College I was accepted to the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. I studied there for three years graduating with a B.A. Honors Degree. During my time there I danced for the Queen and, more importantly, a soloist contract in my pocket by the end of my training. I danced as a soloist in Germany for five years and two years in Switzerland, dancing works by some of the biggest choreographers in the world, Jiri Killian, Wayne McGreggor, Johan Inger and Caeyatano Soto Ramirez, to name a few and for wonderful ballet directors too. I taught at the Hong Kong Academy, danced with Expressions Dance Company in Australia and now a principle dancer with the most well known contemporary dance company in Hungary. I’ve never stopped basically.

“The College of Dance always gave me the best training, the tools to develop myself as both an artist and athlete and most importantly the push and drive I needed to be what I am today. I want to thank them for without their passion and drive I would not be where I am today”

What would be your career highlight to date?

There are a few, dancing with Yumiko Takeshima and meeting Allesandra Ferri. Sharing stages with some amazing dancers, being able to teach and motivate others to follow their dreams would also be a huge one for me. Having a piece written about me in “Dance Australia magazine” and being the first foreign dancer to win the National Dancer of the Year award in Hungary. But my biggest highlight to date would be the thing I told myself the first day at the College of Dance ‘that I would make it..’

What key lessons did you learn at the College of Dance?

Work, Work, Work! The most important thing was that you must put the work in yourself. The staff all pointed out that they will teach amazing technique and train you but without your own self teaching and self work it would not go very far. I taught myself to be disciplined, to take my work home with me and to perfect it the best I could before the next day. Each day is a new day to learn and push yourself more and more.

What advice would you give a dancer thinking about joining the College of Dance?

Listen more and talk less. You don’t have time to make friends and chit chat and waste time. Look up some dancers and follow their examples. It always amazes me that when I speak about dancers in Ireland dancers don’t know who I’m taking about, so do some research, find a dancing role model, aspire to be that good, find out why great dancers are great. I can tell you one thing, it’s not from sitting on the ground on your phones or complaining about muscle pain or small injuries. Train your body to go further than you think it can. Find ways that work on your own particular body. Stretch properly! Work on core strength it’s so important! Listen to your teachers with eagerness and apply yourself 100% everyday. Always ask questions!!! If a teacher asks do you have it or have you any questions? Always say if you don’t have it, ‘show me in more detail’. Ask intelligent questions. Be a sponge for information.

Never take your place for granted, someone will always be better than you! So work until you can say I’ve got this and no one is taking it from me. Be confident with out being arrogant.!

What other advice would you give young dancers?

Being a dancer is a tough job, it’s a wonderful job, but it’s hard. There will be down days and up days, it’s how you apply yourself to each of those days that shape you into the dancer you will become. There are thousands of amazing dancers out there and many bad ones too, of course, so my advice would be to find something different in you that will stand out. Develop your technique and find a personal style that you can put your own stamp on. The College and the staff always gave me the best training, the tools to develop myself as both an artist and an athlete and most importantly the push and drive I needed to be what I am today. So I want to thank them all for without their passion and drive I would not be where I am today.

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