Teaching in the Studio

Harmony Street Fair 2004

About Dawn

Dawn has had a love for her ancestral Ireland since she was a child, and at the age of eight began to write stories that took place in County Cork. When she was twelve, she began to study ballet and later switched to Irish Step Dancing. She has since continued to study Ireland’s arts, history, language and culture. After completing three years at  Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center (under the direction of Ireland’s legendary Josephine McNamara), she went on to study dance for seven years with world champion dancer and T.C.R.G. Niall O’Leary. In 1999, Dawn completed a workshop for museum educators in teaching Irish culture (through the Association of Youth Museums) at New York University. She is currently completing a degree in Arts Education at Empire State College, SUNY.

She has danced with champion Irish Dance teams and has placed second, third and fourth in the national North American Irish Dance Championships and in eastern regional championships (oireachtas). As a solo performer, she has performed in festivals, concerts, recitals and feisanna (Irish dance competition) all over the eastern region.

In addition to her dancing, Dawn has worked for sixteen years as a project manager and consultant for various Staten Island organizations including Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Staten Island Children’s Museum, the Staten Island Historical Society and COAHSI. She also wrote a curriculum on international dance for the “Building a Better Me” after school program at P.S. 57 on Staten Island, and taught the program to third, fourth and fifth graders. In 2005, she became the Noble Maritime Collection’s Director of Programs.

In the year 2000, Dawn began teaching dance and headed her own small dance troupe: The Crown of Ireland. The troupe appeared twice on the parenting program of New York 1 News. She has had the pleasure of taking dance workshops under the direction of Riverdance stars Colin Dunne and Jean Butler, and taught workshops in Irish dance and culture at museums and fundraising events. She danced in the Union Square concert series with the Niall O’Leary Championship Ceili team and performed at the New York Irish Dance Festival. In 2006, Dawn received the Staten Island Arts Council’s Junefest award for folk artists. In 2011, she received a grant from JP Morgan Chase to create Voice of the Storyteller, an Irish dance concert dramatizing Ireland's history and folklore.

In 2003, she became the chairperson of Feis Nua Eabhrac ar Oileain Staten (New York Feis on Staten Island), one of the largest events of its kind in New York. The feis (pronounced “fesh”), is held each year in Staten Island in association with the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, and attracts over 600 dance competitors annually.

In 2007, Dawn wrote and choreographed Harbordance, an Irish dance and music concert for the Noble Maritime Collection. The annual performance features champion Irish dancers including Brian Bigley, and the musical group Stout. Former North Shore Councilman Michael McMahon served as Chairman both years. The story line of Harbordance is based on the Irish potato famine, and celebrates the spirit of Irish immigrants who came to the New World on the coffin ship the Dunbrody in 1847. The Noble Maritime Collection, received funding from the Staten Island Foundation to create Annie’s Journey to America, a program for schoolchildren that uses Irish arts and storytelling to teach students about immigration. The program was featured on Time Warner Cable’s On the Beat program throughout March 2008.

In 2011, Dawn opened her own studio, Forest Haven Center for Dance and Music, located at 358 Forest Avenue, Staten island, NY. Along with Niall O'Leary, she teaches Irish dance to children and adults. The studio is available for rent to dancers and musicians for lessons, rehearsals, and meetings.