Kinsella Academy brings dance and family to Irish Fest

Kinsella Academy brings dance and family to Irish Fest

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Brigid Kinsella-Alba met Ryan when they were 5 years old. At the time, little did she know that he would later become her husband and they would create a school together. It was love that brought them together. Love for each other and love for Irish dancing. 

"We started Irish dance together with Ryan's mother, Therese Kinsella, our first dance teacher," said Kinsella-Alba. "Eventually, when we were in college we decided that we wanted to start our own school, be able to do our own choreography and create our own community for our family someday." 

Picture frame of Brigid and Ryan Kinsella-Alba when they were dancers | Courtesy of Salam Fatayer

The Kinsella Irish dance school was founded 15 years ago. Students at Kinsella participate in national competitions and they also perform for a multitude of different shows and platforms. The dancers are perfecting their craft for their upcoming shows at Irish Fest.

"This is our 14 Irish fest, the first year that we came and we were putting our choreography on those big stages, I just started crying because it was such a gift," said Kinsella-Alba. 

Elle Davidson, summer intern here at Radio Milwaukee and former dancer, has danced competitively at Kinsella for 13 years. She is now an assistant instructor at the school. She said one of the most humbling moments is seeing the young dancers filled with joy. 

They just love their craft so much and it is really special to watch 6, 7 and 8-year-olds become so passionate about something," said Davidson.

The leg work of Irish dance at practice | Courtesy of Salam Fatayer

Both Bridgid and Ryan grew up dancing and were involved in Irish culture. Four out of their five of their children are Irish dancers. The academy is more than just a place to dance, for everyone involved it's home. Bridgid says that becoming parents has influenced that concept.

"We want an environment for our kids that's positive, that's enriching, where you are learning about the history of where you are coming from," said Kinsella-Alba. "You're learning a little Gaeilge, which is the Irish language, that you have fun with your friends, that you are mixed with kids of all ages. That's just what it is, when you come in you're part of our family." 

Pictures and awards displayed at Kinsella Dance Academy | Courtesy of Salam Fatayer

Dance is a powerful form of self-expression, one that can be used to highlight heritage and culture as well as a way to invite other community members to get involved. 

In Elle Davidson's words

When I am asked to describe the feeling of Irish dance, it was difficult to pick a place to begin. There's the feeling of liberation that might come from all forms of dance, the confidence provided by the intricate and beautiful movements you create and the connection you feel to those dancing with you, or even watching you. Irish dance is a unique art form melding rich heritage with physical discipline and creative expression that has sprouted into a celebrated faction of Milwaukee's Irish community.

I began at Kinsella Irish Dance when I was 5-years-old. Lessons, performances and competitions became my life, and my dance friends and I were inseparable. I loved the challenging choreography, and the class environment motivated me to become a stronger, cleaner dancer. Our studio celebrated family, and encouraged us all to bond as we struggled to perfect dance steps and traveled around the Midwest. Dance helped connect all of us to Milwaukee's Irish community, and now we look forward to celebrating it together every year at Irish fest. I am so grateful for everything Irish dance taught me about strength, expression and community.  

When and where

The Kinsella dancers will perform at Irish Fest on Friday, Aug. 16, at 4:15 p.m. at the Miller Lite Stage

If you miss that performance, you catch their other Irish Fest performances on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 1:30 p.m., at the Leinie's stage and at 5 p.m. at Coughlan's Crossroads stage.

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