Saturday, June 30, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Danae Luetkehans

DANAE LUETKEHANS, 17 years old from La Grange Illinois.  She is going to be a senior next year at Lyons Township High School. Danae has been dancing with Trinity since she was three years old and competes, teaches, and performs with the school. 

She has placed internationally and in the top ten in the nation. I have also been privileged to take home a gold, silver and bronze at the worlds with the Dawn. In Japan, I am most looking forward to performing almost every night and touring all the different cities.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Marissa Wurster

MARISSA WURSTER has been dancing with Trinity for almost 11 years.  She currently attends Wauwatosa East High School and teaches part time as a driller with Trinity.   Competitively, Marissa is a regional champion in addition to a national and world medal holder. Her first time in Japan was for the tour in 2010, and she cannot wait to get back to be on stage in front of thousands of people.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Myah Trilling

MYAH TRILLING is going to be a junior at Brookfield East High School and is a drill for the Trinity Irish Dancers.  She has been dancing with Trinity for eleven years. Her accomplishments have been being on a team that won the World Championships, traveling the world for shows, and qualifying for the Nationals and World Championships consistently.  She's most looking forward to seeing the audience’s reaction after the show. 

Meet the Cast and Crew::MacKenzie Holland

MACKENZIE HOLLAND, a native of the North-side of Chicago has been Irish dancing with Trinity for 14 years.   She danced with Trinity on the last Japan tour in 2010 and since then as traveled with Trinity II to Spain and competed in Ireland and Scotland.  MacKenzie is also a five-time regional champion in addition to a national and world medal holder.  As a means to share her love and passion for Irish dance, she has become part of the Trinity staff, working with a variety of students in the dance program.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Lauren Morton

LAUREN MORTON, a seventeen year old from Brookfield, Wisconsin.  Next year, Lauren will be a freshman at Purdue University, majoring in Communication.   She has been dancing with Trinity for 13 years and has achieved a silver medal at the World Championships on a team, danced at the Worlds as a solo competitor, performed on the Martha Stewart Show, the Today Show, and the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.  Additionally. Lauren has performed in Ireland, Scotland, France, and Spain. She is most looking forward to being able to experience the Japanese culture and to perform almost every night while in Japan.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Tory Felker

VICTORIA FELKER is 18 years old.  She is from Elm Grove, WI and has just completed her senior year of high school. This fall she will be attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she plans on studying business and Spanish.  She has been dancing with Trinity for 13 years. Her biggest accomplishments with Trinity have been winning a silver medal on the U13 Choreography at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland and performing on the Martha Stewart show, the Today show, and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. She's been working as an instructor for the Trinity Irish Dancers for the last two years and loves sharing her passion for dance with children. She has performed at cultural dance festivals in both France and Spain and is greatly looking forward to her tour in Japan.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Kalyn Kahler

KALYN KAHLER has been dancing with Trinity for nine years and recently completed her freshman year at Northwestern University.  She is working as a part-time intern for a regional PBS TV show, Wisconsin Foodie, this summer, and she also works in the Athletic Communications department at Northwestern. Kayln has traveled with Trinity to perform at festivals in Italy and France in addition to performing on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.  As a soloist, she recently competed at the World Championships of Irish Dance in Ireland.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Kelly Dalton

KELLY DALTON is nineteen years old and lives in Franklin, WI. Not only has Kelly been dancing for 14 years, but she is also a part of the teaching staff.  She has competed at the North American Championships, All Ireland Championships, All Scotlands, and the World Championships.  As a part of the 2010 Japan tour, Kelly cannot wait to get back for a second time.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Deirdre Gillette

DEIRDRE GILLETTE, 19, has been Irish dancing for fifteen years and has been dancing with Trinity since the age of twelve. She is originally from Elmhurst, Illinois but resides in Madison, Wisconsin as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she hopes to earn a degree in Finance. Deirdre is a 9 time consecutive World Championship qualifier and has earned multiple medals at the World, All Ireland, Great Britain, and All Scotland Championships along with ranking top 5 nationally and regionally. In addition to competing, Deirdre danced with Trinity on the Martha Stewart Show and participated in an international festival in Belgium. She cannot wait to explore Japan and learn as much about its culture as possible. Deirdre has heard so many great things about Japan and cannot wait to see the beautiful country for herself! 

Meet the Cast and Crew::Morgan Lucey

MORGAN LUCEY is 19 years old, from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.  She is currently studying business at the University of Texas at Austin, considering majoring in Supply Chain Management.  Morgan has been a Trinity Irish Dancer since age 5 and has loved traveling to so many countries like Japan.  One of her greatest accomplishments was in 2007 when her Under 16 choreography won the gold medal at the World Championships with many of the dancers who are going to Japan this summer.  She is most looking forward to continuing building friendships with the girls she has danced with for so many years, and making an impact on the people in Japan!

Meet the Cast and Crew::Colleen Kenyon

COLLEEN KENYON has been a dedicated student, performer and teacher for the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance for the past 16 years. Her commitment and perseverance has led her to the World Championships in both solo and team competitions, which resulted in one gold and one bronze medal. Although competing was a large aspect of her dance career, performance has always been her favorite part of Irish Dance. Her love of this incredible art form has led her to stages all over the world including France, Belgium, Italy, and Bulgaria.  The highlight of her career was to bring her love of Irish dance to stages in Tokyo, Sapporo, Okinawa, etc. in 2010. She was honored in March of 2012 to perform throughout Japan and is looking forward to touring in July of 2012.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Sarah Tully

SARAH TULLY began dancing with Trinity Academy when she was seven years old.  She is currently studying at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City.  At Barnard, Sarah studies linguistics with a concentration in Arabic. While dancing with Trinity, her team won a gold medal at the World Championships of Irish dance in 2007.  Additionally, she has consistently been a national and world qualifier as a soloist.   Sarah is looking forward to becoming more familiar with the Japanese people and culture.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Danna Schultz

DANNA SCHULTZ has been dancing with Trinity for 13 years. She grew up in Middleton, Wisconsin and recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Biology and minors in business as well as European studies. She cannot wait to simply Irish dance, hang out with old friends in addition to making new ones, and enjoy sushi, of course.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Kate O'Brien

KATHRYN O’BRIEN, a 21 year old from Brookfield, WI. She is currently a student at Purdue University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Kathryn has been dancing with Trinity for fifteen years. She has competitively earned back to back silver medals at the regional championships and a bronze medal at the National level for solo competition, as well as achieving a silver medal at the World Championships with her fellow Trinity teammates. Throughout her performance career with Trinity, Kathryn has traveled to Canada, France, and Belgium. She was also a cast member on the Japan tour in 2010. She is especially excited to bond with her cast members and experience the thrill of performing! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rehearsal Sneak Peek

We officially take off in 5 days and cannot wait to arrive in Japan! We have so much to look forward to but will be hard at work in the studio until we leave.  Here's a peek at what we've been up to this past week.

Meet the Cast and Crew::Ally Felker

ALEXANDRA FELKER, a 21 year old from Elm Grove, WI. She is currently double majoring in Accounting and Finance at UW- Milwaukee. Ally has been dancing with Trinity for fourteen years and some of her greatest accomplishments include winning both gold and silver medals at the World Championships of Irish dance with her choreography teams and winning the Midwest Oiereachtas as a solo dancer.  She has also been on T2 trips to Canada and France and was on the 2010 Japan tour. She is looking forward to the long lasting friendships she will form with everyone in Japan and, of course, singing Justin Bieber at Karaoke.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Different Drums of Ireland

DIFFERENT DRUMS OF IRELAND started in 1991 as a deliberate exercise in community relations.  Roy Arbuckle (guitar/vocals) was asked to do something in the community using arts as a vehicle and came up with the concept of “different drums,” which was borrowed from Henry Thoreau.  It is the notion of people marching to the beat of different drums; at the same time he was reading a book by M. Scott Peck called ‘Different Drums’ which was about the essential human need to be in community with other living things.

It was clear that there was a good philosophical underpinning for a project that addressed both the rights and respect of the individual and the rights and respect you have as part of your community.  The most unique aspect of Different Drums is the use of the potent symbols of the drums of the two main communities in Northern Ireland - the lambeg drum and the bodhran which are perceived as representing the Nationalist and Unionist cultures.

The Lambeg drum is a big bass drum which is most likely descended from the European military snare drum, it has a presence in Ireland from around the mid/late 17th Century. At over three feet in diameter and clocking in at 125dB it's reckoned to be the loudest drum in the world. The way it's constructed and played is unique to Ulster and it would be representative of the Protestant and Unionist people.

The “wee” drum, the bodhran, gets the name from the Irish for deaf 'bodhr' and means 'the deafener', it is also usually made from goats' skin. Frame drums like this are found all over the world. It's seen as a symbol of Nationalism and the Catholic people although its popularity is now global.

In the early 1990s, Different Drums got a chance to spend a week with the Kodo drummers from Japan which gave them the idea to try something new. It was about exploring the sound of the drums and trying to create some sense of a new repertoire of out the two traditions.  In addition to the lambeg and bodhran, Different Drums uses the African Djembe drum to provide the rhythmic engine of the band and you will also hear the high tension snare and various other percussion from around the world.  The melodic aspects of the band are voices and a range of traditional Irish instruments with particular emphasis on the Uilleann pipes and the whistle, the link between rhythm and melody is made through Roy's guitar.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Brianna Kliesmet

BRIANNA KLIESMET, a 24 year old born and raised on the east side of Milwaukee.  She  currently lives in the beautiful city of Denver, CO and graduated from UWM with a degree in marketing and a certificate in international business. Since her last trip to Japan in 2010, she has been traveling nationwide as a guerrilla marketing specialist for Jimmy John's corporate. Between her years touring with Trinity and traveling with JJs, she has visited 47 of the 50 states! 

She has been dancing with Trinity since she was 7 years old--17 years to date. Brianna toured on the 2006 and 2010 Japan tours in addition to two US tours. She also danced at festivals in Belgium and Canada. 

Brianna is looking forward to visiting Japan again for many reasons.  In addition to performing, she cannot wait to recapture the natural beauty of the country.  Brianna is also looking forward to reconnecting with all of our wonderful Japanese crew!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rehearsal Sneak Peek

We couldn't be more excited to finally get to train together as an entire cast! We have all been hard at work whether practicing while off at college or while attending solo class, but this weekend we finally got everyone together.  Excitement filled the studio as we were eager to get to work and start perfecting our pieces to put on our best shows possible in Japan. Two weeks until our departure!

Meet the Cast and Crew::Kieran Coleman

KIERAN COLEMAN (Lead Male Dancer)  was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dancing for the Burke Irish dancers along side his two brothers.  Kieran’s older brother, Garrett Coleman, was always a great inspiration to Kieran and he is thrilled to be following in his footsteps by touring Japan with the Trinity Irish Dancers.  As a competitive dancer, he has won multiple US regional and National titles.  Kieran currently resides in Washington, D.C. where he is studying International Security and Economics at John Hopkins.

Kieran also visited Japan in March.  He shares his experience with us here:

With bleary eyes and heavy legs, Colleen Kenyon, Roy Arbuckle and I walked into BierVana, the Irish bar right down the street from our hotel in Akasaka. On the first night of a week of shows celebrating St. Patty's put on by Irish expatriates and Japanese enthusiasts, we were jetlagged. Yet I soon found the best remedies over the next few days were not our tidy little hotel rooms, but the excitement of performing in front of excitable crowds that gathered for a glimpse of Irish dance and music. Bringing the Trinity brand, message, and tradition to a people and culture on the other side of the world is a unique, and uniquely rewarding task, and the enjoyment of doing so soon overcame any sense of exhaustion. The tender love and guidance of our hosts Eiko Sugawata, Reiri "Ray" Kojima, Hisanori Kato and Toshitake Nakamura as they whisked us around Tokyo and became good friends didn't hurt, either!

The morning before our first show at an Irish bar in Shimbashi, Colleen and I jumped on the Tokyo subway and traveled to the 2010 tour's stomping grounds in Shibuya (the Times Square of Tokyo). We also explored the back streets that featured some of Tokyo's hottest fashions - including a store selling over a thousand fitted hats and another with a thousand variations on spiked, studded black leather boots. I enjoyed reconnecting with Colleen during the walk, too - it had been five or six years since I had seen her last! After wandering around, we returned to Akasaka and got our stuff together for what would be the first of several shows in Irish bars, a high-end fashion mall in Omotesando, the Yokohama parade, a press conference, and the Emerald Ball over the next few days. Most of our shows were comprised of treble jigs, solo sets, and treble reels. Throughout each, Colleen and I were carried by the strong voice, guitar and bodhran of Different Drums of Ireland's Roy Arbuckle. Roy's stream of situationally appropriate stories, coupled with his Northern brogue, also ensured that we were never at a loss for laughs or conversation during the tour.

One of the highlights of the trip for me took place during an interview with a representative of the Nikkei newspaper (Nihon Keizei Shimbun). Katsuhito Oguchi addressed my background as a student of international security by asking how dance and music fit within my studies.I responded with the standard answer, that the 'low politics' of cultural exchange could be an important medium for bringing people from different places and traditions together, and Trinity was particular well suited to do so in Japan through the subtle beauty and power of its dancers and choreography. Then I realized that, sitting next to me was someone who had lived and pioneered this sort of cultural interchange for years. Upon hearing Roy speak eloquently about his experience with Different Drums and the divide in Northern Ireland he had worked to overcome, I felt a deeper appreciation for what our performances meant for an international audience, and what they should mean to we who perform. 

Although the venue provided by the promotional tour is different than that of the summer, I'm excited to return with the whole troupe in July, to share in this effort at cultural exchange that Trinity has practiced and perfected over the years. I can't wait to join old friends in that effort, to reunite with friends made this spring in Japan, and to get over that jetlag again soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Maggie Doyle

MAGGIE DOYLE (Principle Dancer) has been Irish dancing with the Trinity Irish dancers since the age of three and has since then, achieved a wealth of competitive titles.  Maggie has accomplished the rare feat of being a nine-time regional champion and most recently placed fourth at the World Championships of Irish dance.  She is currently a marketing student at Benedictine College.

Maggie has been teaching for Trinity since she was 12 and loves all aspects of Trinity, from teams to solo competition to performance. She has been a member of Trinity II for five years and is looking forward to the Japan tour, especially the sightseeing and performing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Billy Donahue

BILLY DONAHUE (Assistant Rehearsal Director/Lead Male Dancer) started dancing at the age of 9 with the Trinity Irish Dancers in his hometown of Chicago, IL.  After an extensive international competitive career, Billy was signed with the Trinity Irish dancers and began touring with them at a young age of 18.  He has previously toured Japan with the Trinity Irish Dancers in 2010 and in 2012 was named the company's Assistant Rehearsal Director.  Billy recently completed his degree in Civil Engineering from University of Illinois. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Carly Haslee

CARLY HASLEE (Rehearsal Director/Lead Female Dancer) has trained with the Trinity Irish Dancers for 17 years where she has achieved multiple world medals in both solo and team competition.  Although she has toured extensively throughout the world, she was introduced to Japanese audiences for the first time in 2010.  Besides being a lead dancer in the 2012 tour, she has also been promoted to the role of Rehearsal Director.  Carly recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a degree in Elementary Education and is an instructor for the Trinity Academy of Irish dance.   

She is most looking forward to getting to see more of Japan and working with and teaching Irish dance to families who were impacted by the tsunami. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Ellen Waller

ELLEN G. WALLER (Associate Artistic Director) A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Ellen first trained with the McGing Irish Dancers as a competitive solo and team dancer and later as an instructor.   In 2005, Ellen received her Teasgicoir Choimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (T.C.R.G.): the official teaching certification from the Irish Dancing Commission in Dublin. Upon graduating from the Ohio State University with a degree in Dance Education, Ellen joined Trinity Irish Dance. Her love of the art form, skill, and instinctual leadership lead her to become Associate Artistic Director at the young age of 24.  She has toured around the globe with tours in Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Spain and across the United States as both dancer and Associate Artistic Director.   Her recent choreographies include work for: Seanachai Theater Company (2010), Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon (2009), Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2009), and DePaul University (2008).  She recently completed her Graduate degree in Exercise Science and currently is a lead instructor for the Trinity Academy of Irish dance.   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Meet the Cast and Crew::Mark Howard

MARK HOWARD (Artistic Director/Founder) For the past thirty years, this Emmy Award-winning choreographer has been striving for and achieving that which is profoundly significant and equally difficult to attain—the transcendence of craft to art and the synthesis of forms to create something that is forward-looking and new. His work maintains integrity while simultaneously going beyond the framework of ethnicity to carve new traditions. Born in Yorkshire, England, and raised in Chicago, Mr. Howard began his dancing career at age nine. A North American champion Irish dancer himself, he launched the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance at age 17, subsequently leading them to an unprecedented 37 World Championship titles for the United States, the first when he was only 23 years of age. Since its inception 30 years ago, the Trinity Academy has grown from a dozen students practicing in a church basement to the largest Irish dance program in the world. Mr. Howard continues to choreograph new works as well as expanding his independent career to work in theater, television, concert, and film. In 1994 and 2001, he was named one of Irish American Magazine’s “Top 100 Irish-Americans” for his innovative work in Irish dance. In 1991, his PBS production of “Green Fire and Ice” aired nationally, and in 2002, PBS began airing “One Step Beyond.” Howard’s early work found a common rhythm and movement between African and Celtic dance, which was an integral part of the 1993 Emmy Award-winning PBS special “World Stage”. In 1995 his choreography was presented in the ABC special “About Us: The Dignity of Children”, hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Mr. Howard has done extensive film work for Disney, Touchstone, Universal, and Dream Works, working with the likes of directors Ron Howard (Backdraft) and Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Lara Flynn Boyle (Twin Peaks) and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) are among the celebrities who have been his students.  He also became the personal dance coach for actor Tom Hanks over a two month period while working on the film, Road to Perdition. Howard was a regular guest on The Johnny Carson Show from 1988 until 1990, has accumulated a multitude of national television credits and has worked in a variety of stages from commercials to theater and being awarded numerous choreographer fellowships and grants in the arts.  

Monday, June 4, 2012


The Trinity Irish Dancers have traveled the world over, but feel strongly that we have found our country in Japan, a place we belong.  It would appear that Trinity understands Japan on the same deep level that Japan understands Trinity.  It is a mutual love affair that started in 2004 when Trinity first set foot in this incredible country.  Like the Japanese society, Trinity is about honesty, integrity, innovation, humility and strength.  Together, we share these common characteristics.  
Trinity has evolved over a 30 year journey as a big happy accident.  We never wanted this beautiful art form to simply entertain, for us, it has always needed to matter as well. Our long journey has lead us to an upcoming tour kicking off on July 1, 2012 and we could not be more honored to share our unique gifts once again with the Japanese people. 
We are thrilled to be sharing this tour with Different Drums of Ireland, a group of artists that closely mirror Trinity’s expression of passion, respect and truth.  With them, and at every performance, we will make a memory that will stay with us forever!
God Bless all of you,

Mark Howard | Founder/Artistic Director
Ellen G. Waller | Associate Artistic Director 
Carly Haslee | Rehearsal Director
and the Trinity Irish Dancers