Former Riverdancers open Rince Nia Academy of Irish Dance
Mequon's new Academy of Irish Dance, Rince Nia, is pronounced "rinka knee-ah" and is Irish Gaelic for "dance champion." It's a fitting name, given that its two co-founders are world medalists in Irish dance and former "Riverdance" performers.
Having traveled the world competing and performing as Irish dancers, Sean Beglan and Jillian Winke Beglan are now settling in Milwaukee to pass on the tradition to the next generation. Rince Nia opens for classes on Sept. 14 in the Logemann Community Center, 6100 W. Mequon Rd.
Born and raised in Cavan, Ireland, Beglan began dancing at age four and by age 10 was competing at an international level. It wasn't until he was a teenager, however, that he left Ireland for the first time, traveling to perform with a small group at -- of all places -- Irish Fest in Milwaukee.
"It's the best in the world," says Beglan of our lakefront festival. "We've been to Australia and other parts of Europe and nothing compares to Milwaukee's Irish Fest. There's such a great Irish connection here."
It was here in Milwaukee that Beglan was asked to perform lead in "Riverdance" -- and also where he met his wife, Wauwatosa native Winke Beglan. Together the couple toured for three more years with "Riverdance," performing in front of an estimated five million people.
"Milwaukee just kept pulling me back," says Beglan. Now, after returning from New York City where Beglan performed with the Broadway musical "Pirate Queen," the couple plans to stay and focus on their school.
"It's a hard life to be on tour with theater all the time and it just seemed natural to do something like this and pass it on to other people," says Winke Beglan. "We love teaching and we love kids."
Engaging kids and families in an active, positive environment is a large part of why the Beglans are doing this.
"The Celtic boom of 'Riverdance' and 'Lord of the Dance' in the mid-'90s really put Irish dance on the map," says Beglan. "Irish music in general is really lively. It's a great family thing. In the future we might look at teaching adult classes; there have been a lot of inquiries."
For now, classes start at age four with boys attending for free for the first month. Beglan hopes that having both a male and female teacher will allow boys to feel more comfortable and confident in a school that is typically female dominated.
"With the performance aspect that we've experienced -- both competition and performance, we want to instill confidence into our dancers, that is, not just hitting the step perfectly, but also stage presence."
Winke Beglan agrees. "Irish dance is exciting -- there is always room for expanding on the art. There are always new dance moves. Some kids do it just for fun, other kids like it for the competition. It's whatever they want to take from it."
You can catch Beglan performing this Friday night with another former Riverdancer and his band Eidir at Irish Fest.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.