Sue Theron, founder of the Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance, has made history! She’s the first South African to qualify as an international Irish dancing adjudicator. At a prestigious ceremony held at the 50th World Irish Dancing Championships in Belfast, Ireland in April, she was formally recognised for her achievement by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) – the Irish dancing commission.

Sue was delighted to receive her ADCRG (Adjudicators’) examination certificate from Francis Curley, Chairperson of Údarás (Examinations Committee) of CLRG. James McCutcheon – Chairperson Council of Management (CLRG) made special mention of Sue being the first candidate from South Africa to achieve this accolade and spoke about the significance of the qualification, mentioning that it’s not easily attained.

“The Adjudicators’ examination is extremely challenging to pass first time around,” expressed Sue, “with an average pass rate, usually, of 25% at each grade session, so it is much more difficult than the Teaching exam. Having been through the preparation and rigours of the examination itself, I feel it gives me greater insight into Irish dance itself and the teaching thereof.

A first for South Africa

“I feel very honoured to have achieved this qualification from CLRG and to be the first in South Africa is even more special and rewarding, having dedicated over 24 years to the establishment of Irish dance in South Africa. This recognition puts Irish dancing firmly on the world map and at a different level. It is a very credible way for the greater Irish dance community to see the level of work and commitment we are forging in our country, which is considered a ‘newer and developing region’ of the Irish dancing world.

“Developing Irish dancing in South Africa is something I am passionate about. I believe this international recognition paves the way for other teachers and the next generations of teachers to take up the challenge and be encouraged, believing it is something achievable and worth striving for. It is certainly the way to go, growing our teachers, growing our judges and growing the dancing community. This will also help to increase the contingent of dancers entering the world championships and other international competitions and will result in South African teachers and judges gaining the opportunity to travel and adjudicate around the world,” says Sue.

A long history of collaboration

Sue spearheaded the formation of Irish Dance (SA) back in 1998 and has been driven and focussed towards developing the dance form/sport in the country, working with her Irish and Highland dance colleagues along the way – encouraging other teachers and dancers. “We have worked hand in glove with Dr John Cullinane (a CLRG Committee who was also one of the founding members of that organisation many years ago) as well as extensively with Miah and Maria Walsh of the Kiely-Walsh Academy in Cork who have taught us as teachers and who have given us the structure with which to work and teach our pupils. We have been most fortunate in having outstanding partners in bringing this dance form to life in South Africa and we are grateful for their years of nurturing, encouragement and selfless sharing of their knowledge, expertise and coaching.”

The 50th World Irish Dancing Championships was a long time coming having been postponed twice due to Covid-19, but it was well worth the wait and South Africa certainly made their mark this year. The event was well publicised in Ireland with Rince TV covering it. Sue was interviewed by the television channel as was teacher, Bernard van der Kuil, as well as dancers from their studio who participated in the championships.

For further information contact Sue Theron, Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance on 082 903 9785 or email sueirish@mweb.co.za.

Captions to photographs:

PHOTO Left:

Sue Theron (Founder of Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance) is South Africa’s first international Irish dancing adjudicator and was formally recognised by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) – the Irish dancing commission – at the 50th World Irish Dancing Championships in April 2022 in Belfast, Ireland. Standing beside her is Francis Curley, Chairperson of Údarás (Examinations Committee) of CLRG.

PHOTO Right:

Sue Theron formally recognised as South Africa’s first international Irish dancing adjudicator.

Left to right: James McCutcheon – Chairperson Council of Management (CLRG); Bernard van der Kuil – Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance teacher; Sue Theron – founder of Duncan Studio of Celtic Dance; Mary Sweeney – Head of the Overseas Committee & Chairperson of RCCEA (Regional Council Continental Europe and Asia); Francis Curley – Chairperson of Údarás (Examinations Committee) of CLRG; seated – Seamus O’Sé – President of CLRG (An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha).

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