Introducing Meagan O'Shea: guest instructor with dance umbrella and Holland College School of Performing ArtsOctober 9, 2012
(Charlottetown, P.E.I.) - Confederation Centre of the Arts and Holland College welcome guest dance instructor Meagan O'Shea to both dance umbrella and the School of Performing Arts. O'Shea is teaching two two-week courses with young dancers from both programs, instructing them on a modern fusion of theatrical improvisation and athletic floor-work. The young Toronto native has toured and taught across the continent and is celebrated for her unique hybrid of theatre and dance.
"When we were setting up the dance performance program I knew it was important to have the students work with artists from across the country," says Peggy Reddin, director of arts education at Confederation Centre. "Similarly, the Centre needs to connect with artists from other provinces, to share ideas and support each others' endeavours."
O'Shea's students, who range from 16 to 21, are being presented with three concentrations: core stability and strength training; rolling and turning on the floor; and ‘trick' elements of movement, or as the instructor describes, "moves that look very complicated but really aren't." All of these areas are a preamble to O'Shea's own area of expertise -- that is, combinations of detailed floor-work, theatrical or clown-like movement, and direct audience interactions.
O'Shea -- an animated, reflective thirty-something with stalks of spiky blond hair -- has progressed steadily from roots as an Ottawa theatre student to today, a celebrated dancer who tours to far-flung corners of North America and Europe. The Toronto Star recently pegged her as one of that city's ‘most engaging independent artists' while The Montreal Gazette raved about her creations, calling her shows "...off the wall, impossible to categorize, great fun."
"I chose Meagan as our first guest artist for a number of reasons," says Reddin. "She has a great sense of humour, so I knew she wouldn't be too intimidating for the students and, more importantly, she is an excellent example of how to build a career as an independent dance artist."
O'Shea has much enjoyed her students at the Centre, praising their progress and openness for taking on such an experimental style. "These Maritime kids are very earnest and up for new ideas and no one has a big attitude about things, which you don't find in other places," she states. "That and the accents, I've always loved the quirky accents out here."
After some further teaching in the Maritimes, the busy instructor will pond hop to Croatia for an international conference on new ideas in theatre. Amidst all of this touring, O'Shea has held a deep fondness for P.E.I. -- a place she's known her whole life.
"My grandmother lived here for years so we would come to the north shore every summer," she recalls, wistfully. "Coming back to the Island, it truly feels like home."
O'Shea fell in love with the L.M. Montgomery novels and The Charlottetown Festival's Anne of Green Gables - The MusicalTM during those carefree visits.
"Seeing the musical is one of the reasons I am a performer, period, "she smiles. "So it's deeply satisfying to come and work here. I get to perform in dozens of theatres but coming through the backstage and seeing AnneTM the other night; I felt the magic -- like a kid in a candy store."
Photo Cutline: (L-R) Guest instructor Meagan O'Shea with dance umbrella students Quincy Beck, Alexandra Durant, Caitlin Francis and Brynn Cutcliffe (Submitted photo).
Fraser McCallum, Communications Manager, Confederation Centre of the Arts
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