In every dance step, Ciara Duignan is connecting her daughters to their roots.
“Watching them pick up the steps, it just brings me back to being six and remembering how much fun it was,” said Duignan.
Duignan’s parents immigrated to Canada from Ireland just before she was born, and at Castilla School of Irish Dance in Penticton, she is keeping her heritage and culture alive by teaching students including her daughters.
“I love sharing Irish Dance with them,” said Duignan.
For Duignan’s six-year-old daughter, Nolan Bassingthwaighte, dancing comes naturally.
“If you can walk, you can dance,” said Nolan.
For the last seven years, Duignan’s other daughter, Rowan Bassingthwaighte, has honoured her Irish heritage by learning from her mother.
With the lockdowns put in place on Saint Patrick’s Day, the dance studio’s performances were cancelled and so was their annual fundraiser. However, they do have a chance to celebrate this year — the dancers at Castilla School of Irish Dance in Penticton are part of a series by Wayne McDougall, sharing Celtic culture virtually.
“There’s a lot of special moments when she is trying to show the kids a special dance step and they don’t get it, they don’t, they don’t get it and then they finally get it, and it really becomes special because you see that moment happen,” said McDougall, Experience the Arts video producer.
McDougall has put together a seven-part series showing behind-the-scenes the preparation that happens before the performances and festivals. Each episode features festival staples such as Highland Dance, how bagpipes are made, a whiskey tasting and cooking tutorials.
To watch the episodes, visit the Scottish Festival’s website.