The idea of summer school appeared in spring 2001. Rinceoirí group stabilized to that degree, it consists from those people interested in Irish dancing, which wanted to develop their dancing faster. In regard to Rinceoirí organized Irish dance courses for public, the group became socially closer and that is how the idea of summer school evolved.
First summer school was partly training camp for Rinceoirí, which was led by Tereza Bernardová. In parallel with that, Václav Bernard was teaching the Ceilí dance workshop for public. Whole event had a venue in beautiful countryside in village Sloup in north Bohemia within proximity of Luž mountains, in holiday areal Jiskřička, in date the 25th-30th of August 2001. Whole Rinceoirí participated together with other 35 interested people from public, and for some of them it was first step towards their membership in Rinceoirí.
The following year situation became more mature, and we decided to invite foreign teachers, to generally help to improve the level of Irish dance. We kept venue in Prague that year, and offered it to wide spectrum of interested people. Our invitation to come and teach at the 2nd summer school accepted Sean Kilkenny and Mary Sweeney. Other teachers were Tereza Bachová and Tereza Bernardová. In total there were 52 people participated, 30 from the Czech Republic, 18 from Poland, 2 from Slovakia and one from Spain and Canada.
The third summer school was held in Prague in date the 17th-22nd of August 2003. In this year we started cooperation with ex-Riverdancer Anne-Marie Cunningham TCRG, who kept coming to teach on workshops. We invited her to teach at the 3rd summer school together with well known couple, Mary Sweeney TCRG and Sean Kilkenny TCRG. Beside them, there also were teaching Tereza Bachová, Tereza Bernardová and Václav Bernard. This summer school brought up the special ending of whole event, which was final performance in Ponec theatre. There were 107 dancers in total at the 3rd summer school, which 73 were from the Czech Republic, 23 from Poland, 11 from Slovakia. Constantly increasing amount of participants reflects on popularity and good reputation of this event.
Another following summer school, fourth in total order, was held in date the 14th – 21st of August in Rakovského grammar school in Prague. Teachers were Anne-Marie Cunningham TCRG, who called to herself Kelley O’Boyle TCRG from London. Beside Tereza Bernardová, there were also teaching Marie Dernovšková and Kristina Roztočilová. Participation grew up again – 126 people (70 from the Czech Republic, 33 from Poland, 17 from Slovakia, 6 from Germany). Evening programme was enriched to projection of interesting records. For the first time, we put one afternoon in the middle of the week for the rest. There was swimming pool in the sport centre Pražačka, specially booked for the participants. And again successful final evening in Ponec theatre.
The 5th summer school of Irish dancing had the venue in Jitřní grammar school in Prague 4, in date the 13th-19th of August 2005. For the first time, music school became a part of dancing school. But in the right order: There were 149 participants in total (96 from the Czech Republic, 46 from Poland, 6 from Slovakia, 1 from Sweden). From that amount, 11 people sign up themselves to the music part of the summer school. Teacher’s board from previous year was completed with several dancing show dancer, Shane McAvinchey, beside him there were Anne-Marie Cunningham TCRG, Kelley O’Boyle TCRG, Tereza Bernardová, Marie Dernovšková, Krisitna Roztočilová. Music lessons were led by Roman Kozák (Bodhran), Marek Zienert (guitar), Martin Penič (flutes) and Pavel Švestka with Dan Malczyk (fiddle). Musicians also performed at the final evening. We launched massages as a novelty of that summer school. Zuzana Ferebauerová took care of the participants. This part of summer school became very popular and unique, after earlier timidity.
The 6th summer school was held in date the 19th-25th of August 2006 in Zárubova and Mráčkova grammar schools. 145 people (106 from the Czech Republic, 29 from Poland, 8 from Slovakia, 1 from Sweden and Germany) participated at dancing part and 20 people (16 from the Czech Republic, 3 from Poland and 1 from Slovakia) participated at music part. Dance teachers were Lisa Delaney-Galal ADCRG, Corrine Delaney, Stephen Scariff TCRG, Tereza Bernardová, Marie Dernovšková, Kristina Roztočilová. Music lessons were led by same teachers as in previous year. The novelty of that summer school were set dancing lessons led by Joe and Janet O’Hara. Another novelty was morning yoga warm-up led by Helena Kubrychtová.
The 7th summer school of Irish dancing had the same venue as previous year at Zárubova and Mráčkova grammar schools in date the 18th-24th of August 2007. We registered 254 applications from 199 people. The novelty of that school was Irish class taught by Radvan Markus, and 13 people took part at those lessons. Dance teachers met up in the same formation as in previous year (Lisa Delaney-Galal ADCRG, Corinne Delaney, Stephen Scarrif,TCRG, Tereza Bernardová, Marie Dernovšková, Kristina Roztočilová, Joe a Janet O´Harovi), bodhran lessons were led by Roman Kozák, guitar by René Starhon, flute lessons were taught by Michel Sikiotakis from France and play on fiddle by Micheala Rábová. 17 dancers participated in set dancing, 32 in music lessons, 20 people were placed in complete beginners. I remark, that summer school included all the novelties from past years (swimming pool, projection, final evening performance in Ponec theatre and so on).
In chronological order the 8th summer school of Irish dancing had already the traditional venue in Prague 4. Zárubova grammar school was set up as a main base, but some tution was held at Písnická grammer school,too. Whole event started on Saturday the 16th of August and finished by the final evening in Ponec theatre on Friday the 22nd of August 2008. We broke last year record and number of this year participants climbed up to 211 people. Representants of various countries such as: Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, UK and Ireland met at this occasion. Successful novelty, which appeared in this year programme was Sean nós dancing. Along with that, there were held other classes such as Set dancing, Step dancing-in all levels, music instruments (flute/whistle, bodhran, fiddle, guitar) and Irish language. Teachers for this year were: Lisa Delaney-Galal ADCRG, Ronan McCormack ADCRG, Tereza Bernardová, Kristina Roztočilová, Ronan Regan, Joe a Janet O’Hara; Michel Sikiotakis,Roman Kozák, René Starhon and Radvan Markus. 205 people in total participated in dance classes, 25 people in music classes and 10 people in Irish language class. There were massage services available for participants again this year, same as people had a chance to join the improvised sessions in near restaurant or at school during the week.
9th Summer School of Irish Dancing which took place in Prague from 15th to 21st August 2009 also had a second name, Bernard‘s Summer School 2009. As of this year, our family became the organiser of it. Despite the fact that the Summer School provides new serious applicants into the Irish dancing and competition “space“, specifically this area provides very little support to it. There was a decreased number of participants of the step dancing lessons led by Ronan McCormack and thus also a decreased number of participants compared to last year. Altogether, the Summer School had 167 participants from 6 countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Ireland) who attended five dance workshops, seven music classes and Irish lessons. There were 41 musicians and 9 students of Irish. Dance lessons were filled by 156 participants. Step dancing lessons were led by Ronan McCormack (intermediate + open), Tereza Loužecká Bachová and Tereza Bernardová (Beginners +Primary), Marie Dernovšková (complete beginners), sean-nós and set dancing were led by Gerard Butler. Bodhrán lessons were traditionally provided by Roman Kozák, fiddle lessons were made enjoyable by Alastair Edwards, whistle players divided between Michel Sikiotakis and Martin Penič, guitar was the domain of René Starhon. Three new music classes were opened: banjo with Marek Zienert, button accordion taught by Marek Poledna and uillean pipes led by Michel Sikiotakis. Irish films were shown during the evenings, apart from informal sessions there was an Irish ceilí night organised at KC Novodvorská and the final evening show again took place at Ponec Theatre.
Bernard’s Summer School 2010 took place in Prague from the 14th – 20th of August. It was the 10th anniversary celebration. For the second time there was the Irish ceilí night in KC Novodvorská, sessions were running at the school as well as in the pubs. The Final evening show moved to a bigger venue – KC Vltavská. Along with BSS 2010 participants and teachers there were special guests peforming that night – James Devine – the fastest tap dancer in the World and duo
Emma O’Sullivan and John O’Halloran – the finalists of RTE’s All Ireland Talent show 2010. For the first time sean nós singing classes had been introduced and Maire Bríd Ní Maoilchiaráin from Ireland taught that class. Radvan Marcus was once again teaching Irish language. Unfortunately fiddle class had to be cancelled this year as the number of applicants didn’t meet the requirements. On the other hand bodhrán class led by Roman Kozák and whistle and flute class, which was split into different levels between Michel Sikiotakis and Martin Penič proved to be very popular. Michel Sikiotakis was teaching an uilleann pipes class too. Guitarists were led by David Mikulášek and Marek Zienert took care of banjo class. Irish step dancing classes were taught from the complete beginners to advanced level by Markéta Bernardová, Tereza Bernardová, Tereza Loužecká Bachová and Ronan McCormack. Sean nós dancing and set dancing were taught by Gerard Butler. From a statistical point of view there were 143 participants in total, who entered into 208 activities. 113 participants came from the Czech Republic, 20 from Germany, 2 from Italy, 2 from Ireland, 1 from the UK, 3 from Poland, 2 from Slovakia. Step dancing classes were attended by 80 dancers, at the set dancing class there were 26 participants and 41 people entered in the sean nós dancing class. Music classes were attended by 45 musicians in total (whistle – 19 people, bodhrán – 18 people, guitar – 6 people, uilleann pipes and banjo had 1 person each). Irish language class and sean nós singing were attended equally by 8 people each. 44 water barrels were drunk (1 barrel is approximately 19 litres of water). There was certainly less of water used in total thanks to 1 week hot water lockout in the area.
Bernard’s Summer School 2011 was held at the usual place (Zárubova grammar school, Prague 4) from 13 to 19 August 2011. A total of 12 classes were opened – step dancing for beginners / primary led by Tereza Bernardová and Teresa Loužecká Bachová, attended by a total of 70 dancers, step dancing for intermediate / open dancers under the leadership of Ronan McCormack – 16 dancers, Irish set dancing led by Gerard Butler – 22 dancers and sean nós dancing led by Gerard Butler – 42 dancers.
The music lessons included whistles under the leadership of Michel Sikiotakis, Jan Banis and Anka Šůrová – 15 musicians, flute with Radvan Markus – 2 musicians, bodhrán was taught as usual by Roman Kozák – 7 persons, fiddle was taught in two classes by Míša Rábová – 11 musicians, guitar – David Mikulášek – 7 players, the Irish bagpipes – Michel Sikiotakis – 3 musicians. Sean nós singing took place under the direction of Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin and was attended by six singers and Radvan Markus also taught Irish to 6 persons. The summer school was attended by 118 Czech persons, 12from Poland, 19 from Germany, 2 people from Slovakia, 3 people from Estonia and one person each from Japan and Brazil. Only ca. 40 barrels of water were drunk this time.
The Final Evening returned to Ponec Theatre. The guests of this evening were world step dancing champions, Claire Greaney and Cathal Keaney. The evening was also attended by the First Secretary of the Irish Embassy in Prague, Mr. Brian McElduff. The event was twice mentioned by MF Dnes newspaper.
On 18 – 24 August 2012, those interested in Irish dance and music culture, singing and Irish language gathered together in Prague for the Bernard’s Summer School 2012. The venue was again at Zárubova primary school and another school gym was used at Mráčkova school. Altogether, 13 lessons were opened: step dancing intermediate / open under the direction of Ronan McCormack – 12 participants, beginner / primary step dancing was led by three instructors (Tereza Loužecká Bachová, Tereza Bernardová and Andrej Mikulka) – 44 participants, step dancing – beginners under the leadership of Markéta Utišilová – 7 participants; Sean nós dancing led by Tereza Bernardová – 21 participants; Irish set dancing under the direction of Pat Murphy – 25 participants. Newly opened ceilí dancing lessons led by Anna Novosadová and Katka Báňová were attended by 30 participants.
Music lessons included the whistle under the direction of Michel Sikiotakis and Anka Šůrová – 17 participants, bodhrán taught by Roman Kozák – 11 participants, violin with Ruadh Duggan – 8 participants, Irish uilleann pipes taught by Michel Sikiotakis – 3 participants. We have newly introduced harp lessons led by Václava van der Meijs and these lessons had 4 participants. Sean nós singing was once again taught by Máire Bríd Ni Mhaoilchiaráin and her lessons were attended by 12 people. Radvan Markus taught Irish in a class of 10 people.
This year’s summer school was attended by participants from 10 European countries: Belarus – 2, Czech Republic – 117, Denmark – 2, Estonia – 1, Ireland – 2, Italy – 3, Germany – 3, Poland – 5, Russia – 1, Slovakia – 4. One of the 117 inhabitants from the Czech Republic is certainly originally from Japan. All participants drank about 50 barrels of water. The ceilí evening held on 22 August at KC Novodvorská had The Flying Druids Orchestra performing for us. The final evening was held on 24 August at Ponec Theatre. The guest of the evening was an Irish champion and winner of An Jig Gig 2011 – David Geaney from Dingle. The event was also attended by a representative of the Ambassador of Ireland to the Czech Republic, Mr. Thomas Bellew. The final evening had 27 entries and stretched to 11 p.m.
With the end of the Bernard’s Summer School 2013 we recall it in this form to finalize especially its quantitative aspects. The Summer School was held on 17 – 23 August 2013 in Prague 2 in the premises of Botičská primary school. The dance lessons schedule led to renting several nearby gyms in Botičská Grammar School and Podskalská Industrial School. A total of 15 classes were opened – 6 dance courses, 7 music courses, singing and Irish. A total of 197 participants were involved, the whole summer school was attended by 137 participants (which means that some were attending 2-3 classes).
The attendance of individual classes was as follows:
- Step dancing –intermediate/open, taught by Ronan McCormack – 19 people
- Step dancing –beginners/primary, taught by Tereza Loužecká Bachová, Tereza Bernardová and Andrej Mikulka – 42 people
- Step dancing – complete beginners, taught by Markéta Utišilová – 6 people
- Irish set dancing – taught by Gerard Butler – 23 people
- Sean nós dancing – taught by Gerard Butler – 32 people
- Ceilí dancing – taught by Anna Ward and Katka Báňová – 23 people
- Whistle – taught by Anna Šůrová and Michel Sikiotakis – 12 people
- Flute – taught by Radvan Markus – 3 people
- Bodhrán – taught by Roman Kozák – 9 people
- Fiddle – taught by Ruadh Duggan – 7 people
- Harp – taught by Václava van der Meijs – 5 people
- Uilleann pipes – taught by Michel Sikiotakis – 2 people
- Banjo – taught by Marek Zienert – 3 people
- Sean nós singing – taught by Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin – 6 people
- Irish – taught by Radvan Markus – 5 people
Summer School participants represented 10 countries:
Czech Republic – 103, Germany – 9; Slovakia – 7; Poland – 6; Estonia – 3; Belarus – 2, Ireland – 2; Russia – 2, Spain – 2, Italy – 1
Guests of the summer school included dance historian Dr. John Cullinane and musicians Enda Seery, John Byrne and Mark Swayne – all from Ireland.
This year we again realized a photo exhibition. This time the choice fell on a dancer from a Pilsen group called Inis, Katka Samková. The programme newly included a knowledge quiz competition, which took place on Sunday, 18 August. The Final evening at Ponec theatre was attended by the deputy Irish Ambassador, Mr. Thomas Bellew. Only 30 barrels of water were drunk. This year’s team included Martin Mitas of Pilsen, who replaced Martin Loužecký. The position of „Kuba“ was held by Jakub Mašek and Jakub Částka. The final evening at Ponec was video recorded by Pavel Klener.
A total of 13 courses have been opened – 6 dance courses and 7 music courses; none of them have been cancelled after the first deadline. We have newly opened concertina lessons. On the other hand, due to Irish and sean nós singing teachers’ busy schedules, their lessons were not opened this year. Since BSS 2014 was the tenth summer school, since the originally dance summer school has been complemented by music lessons, we tried to increase the proportion of Irish musicians among teachers. The overview of realized lessons, their teachers and students gives and idea of how the summer school was filled:
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Shaun Kelly (IRL) – 18
- Step Dancing – beginners, primary – Tereza Bachová, Tereza Bernardová – 36
- Step Dancing – complete beginners – Markéta Utišilová – 5
- Set dancing – Gerard Butler (IRL) – 27
- Sean nós dancing – Gerard Butler (IRL) – 12
- Ceilí – Katka Báňová, Anna Ward – 18
- Irish flute – Stephen Doherty (IRL) – 8
- Whistle – Anna Šůrová – 6
- Bodhrán – Ladislav Veselý – 10
- Fiddle – David Doocey (IRL) – 12
- Guitar – Kevin Corbett (IRL) – 10
- Harp – Václava van der Meijs – 6
- Concertina – Tomáš Pergler – 4
Summer school was attended by 142 participants and there were 172 applications to lessons. Of the total of 142 participants, 115 were from the Czech Republic, 6 from Poland, 6 from Slovakia, 10 from Germany, 3 from Belarus, 2 from Spain, 1 from Estonia and 1 from Italy.
The Summer School was held under the auspices of the Mayor of Prague 2, Mgr. Jana Černochová, which eased the way for us to rent the New Town Hall room for the ceilí in the evening on August 20. Musical accompaniment of the ceilí was provided by a trio of Irish musicians – Doherty, Doocey and Corbett. Most other evenings were ruled by sessions, which we placed this year on a boat anchored by the riverside. Judging from the feedback, opinions on this location varied. The final evening was held as usual in the Ponec Theatre, it was filmed by Pavel Klener and a DVD was made with the footage.
- Some lessons have been cancelled, because there hasn’t been enough participants by the application closing date; namely it was set dancing, sean nós dancing, ceilí dancing and irish flute. Thus we were, after many years, deprived of the presence of such a teacher as Gerard Butler.
- After a one year break, lessons of sean nós singing were offered again and Máire Bríd also took over the lessons of Irish language from Radvan Markus.
- Radvan was asked to take up the flute class.
- Interpreting was done by Anna Ward. She replaced Katka Báňová, who gave birth to her second daughter Alžběta on 14th August.
- Stephen Doherty participated not as a teacher, but as a musician. Together with Kevin Corbett and David Doocey, they accompanied daners during the Irish Evening at the New Town townhall on 19th August and also during the Final Evening on 21st August.
The lessons were eventually carried out this way:
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Siobhan Manson (IRL) – 23
- Step Dancing – beginners, primary – Andrej Mikulka (SK), Tereza Bernardová – 40
- Step Dancing – complete beginners – Markéta Utišilová – 3
- Whistle – Anna Šůrová – 10
- Flute – Radvan Markus – 3
- Harp – Václava van der Meijs – 6
- Fiddle – David Doocey (IRL) – 6
- Guitar – Kevin Corbett (IRL) – 4
- Bodhrán – Ladislav Veselý – 12
- Concertina – Tomáš Pergler – 4
- Sean nós singing – Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin (IRL) – 4
- Gaeilge – Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin (IRL) – 8
Despite the cancellation of some lessons, the overall number of participants was 108, out of which 83 were from the Czech Republic, 7 from Slovakia, 9 from Germany, 3 from Poland, 2 from Belarus, 1 from Spain, 1 from Estonia, 1 from Russia and one lady from the north of Ireland.
The summer school was again realized under the auspices of the district mayor of Prague 2, Ms. Jana Černochová.
A photography exhibition was also a part of this year’s summer school. Our call was responded by Lucie Šmahelová, who presented photographs from her working stay in Ireland.
The Irish Evening took place on 19th August and once more, we could make use of the historical premises of the New Town townhall. The Final Evening traditionally took place in the Ponec theatre. Like last year, it was recorded by Pavel Klener. The receptionist of the summer school was again Jakub Šůra and the graphics was taken care of by Martin Mitas.
The fluid intake was secured by two watercoolers, however, only 26 barrels, that is a little over 500 liters of water, were consumed during the summer school.
The 16th Summer School took place on August 13 to 19, 2016, the location being again the Botičská primary school in Prague 2, where we gained trust from the primary school director for a fourth time. In our Czech conditions, even a fifteenth repetition does not ensure that the event will be successful and that a necessary number of persons interested in Irish culture will show interest in it. Out of the lessons offered, we had to cancel the seminars of Irish uilleann pipes after June 1, which we are really very sorry about. But we simply cannot do it with merely one potential student. The other – especially musical – lessons were not exactly illustriously full, but we were going for the risk. We returned lessons, which we had to cancel last year, due to a lack of interest and perhaps hesitation of potential students. It seemed that the personality of Mick Mulkerrin would attract students and that we would again open sean nós dancing as well as set dancing lessons. We again took great care to get the best instructors, and the following line-up of teachers was offered at Bernard‘s Summer School 2016:
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Bridget Madden (GB) – 23
- Step Dancing – beginners, primary – Andrej Mikulka (SK), Tereza Bernardová – 40
- Step Dancing – absolute beginners – Markéta Utišilová – 3
- Irish set dancing – Mick Mulkerrin (IRL) – 30
- Sean nós dancing – Mick Mulkerrin a Deirdre Tobin (oba IRL) – 18
- Whistle- Anna Šůrová – 8
- Harp – Václava van der Meijs – 4
- Irish flute – Caoimhín Ó Fearghail (IRL) – 6
- Fiddle – Dónal McCague (IRL) – 7
- Guitar – Sean Mc Elwain (IRL) – 4
- Bodhrán – Ladislav Veselý – 5
- Concertina – Tomáš Pergler – 2
- Sean nós singing – Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin (IRL) – 3
- Irish – Máire Bríd Ní Mhaoilchiaráin (IRL) – 11
Having had good experience with the morning lessons of pilates led by Hana Kalousková, we offered these again this year and were pleasantly surprised by the interest they attracted. Although several originally planned lessons were dropped, 130 people attended the Summer School. Out of this number, 100 were from the Czech Republic, 8 from Slovakia, 8 from Germany, 2 from Poland, 1 from Belarus, 1 from Spain, 2 from Estonia, 2 from Russia, 2 from Denmark, 2 from Finland, 2 from Serbia.
This year, the Summer School was under the auspices of Prague 2 Mayor Jana Černochová again.
This year, too, a photography exhibition was part of the Summer School. Michal Kára accepted our offer, presenting his dance photographs as well as his so-called larp photographs.
The Irish evening took place on August 17, and we were again able to use the historical hall of the New Town Hall. The final evening traditionally took place at the Ponec Theatre. The uneasy role of English interpreter was taken over by Mirka Kopicová. The evening was again filmed by Pavel Klener. Jakub Šůra took on the role of receptionist again, same as last year, and Martin Mitas took care of the graphics of the Summer School.
The drinking regime was again ensured by two aggregates, but only approximately 26 barrels were drunk up during the entire summer school, which is slightly over 500 litres.
The 17th Summer School took place on 19–25 August 2017 and this year was the fifth year when it took place in Botičská Primary School in Prague 2. Taking into account that even after sixteen years since we’ve been organizing the summer school, we are never sure in advance that we can support the event economically, we chose a somewhat more economical and more targeted set of lessons. From the lessons we offered, we only cancelled the flute after 1 June and we somehow expected that. We offered two new lessons with a certain risk, and we tried to ensure they were well-attended by the absence of other, somewhat competitive lessons. We decided to introduce Irish lilting lessons. We wanted to offer this kind of Irish singing before, but only this year after intense negotiations with several singers we managed to announce these lessons and even to fill them.
With regard to the state of the Irish music sessions, we have offered Irish Music Session lessons led by the Perglers, to improve the level of local sessions (here I think especially of those ones in Prague that are held at Whiskey & Kilt). We intentionally offered a foreign tutor to medium-level step dancing participants, to give these dancers a chance to learn from other than a local teacher. In view of the previously unknown composition of Irish set dancing participants, we have permitted ourselves to offer sets in combination with Irish two-hand dances. In the end, the set of lessons and teachers looked as follows:
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Jason O‘Neill (GB) – 20 participants
- Step Dancing – primary – Bridget Madden (GB) – 18
- Step Dancing – beginners – Andrej Mikulka (SK) – 18
- Irish set dancing and two-hand dancing – Gerard Butler (IRL), Marie Garrity (GB) – 18
- Sean nós dancing – Markéta Utišilová (CZ) – 12
- Whistle- Anna Šůrová – 8
- Harp – Václava van der Meijs – 4
- Bodhrán – Ladislav Veselý – 5
- Irish Music Session – Tomáš a Veronika Perglerovi (CZ) – 13
- Irish lilting – Robert Harvey (IRL) – 9
The summer school was attended by 106 participants from 9 countries: 77 from the Czech Republic, 8 from Slovakia, 10 from Germany, 1 from Belarus, 4 from Estonia, 2 from Denmark, 1 from Finland, 2 from Serbia, 1 from Switzerland.
The Irish evening took place on 23 August and again we could use the historic space of the New Town Hall. A band composed of the summer school teachers, Veronika and Tomáš Pergler, Robert Harvey and Láďa Veselý, joined by Honza Brabec, played for the dancers. This year’s Summer School guest, John Cullinane, taught the two dances that he had performed with his dancers in Czechoslovakia just 50 years ago.
The final evening was traditionally held in the Ponec Theatre (for the fifteenth time this year). The role of interpreter into English was taken over by Katka Báňová. Martin Loužecký took care of video recording. We recalled several important anniversaries linked to 2017. These were probably the first entry of Irish musicians and dancers as a cultural delegation in the territory of former Czechoslovakia (in July 1967), where they danced and played at several concerts and performances in Prague, Ostrava and Myjava. This event was remembered during the evening by John Cullinane, who had led the expedition. We also remembered the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the first Irish dance group in the Czech Republic (Rinceoirí). This event is associated with Kate Wood. The last anniversary was 15 years since set dancing was first taught in the Czech Republic at the summer school in 2002. The tutor was Sean Kilkenny. Kate and Sean were also invited to the summer school, but they both apologized.
The post of the receptionist was repeated once more by Jakub Šůra, while Martin Mitas took care of the summer school graphics. The drinking regime was provided by two aggregates this year, but only about 23 barrels were drunk for the entire duration of the summer school, which is just under 500 litres.
The 18th Summer School was held on 18 – 24 August 2018, the Botičská Primary School in Prague 2 being the venue for the sixth time. At the very beginning, we listed a total of 15 lessons, of which three were eventually cancelled due to insufficient interest. We wanted to strengthen the area of social dance and offered American country dances. The link to Ireland was a book by Elizabeth Burchenal, who wrote an extensive overview of Irish dances at the beginning of the last century, and a second about American country dances. This second book contains a number of country dances, whose names are also included among the Irish ones and also the suggested accompanying music used Irish tunes. They should have been taught by David “The Bear” Dvořák, but unfortunately only 2 people have signed up. We agreed with Radvan Markus on the offer of classical metal flute lessons, to see if people would be interested and if not, we would cancel the lessons. Alas, there was none. It was a surprise for us though, that due to the lack of candidates, we also had to cancel the bodhrán lessons. A brand new class, titled “30 Lost Figure Dances,” was dedicated to the forgotten ceilí dances that an American dance teacher James Mueller collected from old sources and published a book with the support of John Cullinane from Ireland. And it was John who led these classes at this summer school. We decided to change the guitar lessons from the usual accompanying DADGAD tuning to fingerpicking, being led by the fact that we did not see many guitar players interested in typical Irish tuning around. That’s why we’ve innovated this course to make it interesting for those who can play guitar at least a little and Irish music is interesting to them. A new style of teaching Irish was certainly brought to the summer school thanks to the new teacher Michal Boleslav Měchura, who once helped us with the Irish version of Rinceoirí website.
In the end, the lessons and teachers were as follows (the number following the teacher’s name indicates the number of participants in the class):
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Jason O‘Neill (GB) – 13
- Step Dancing – primary – Jason O‘Neill (GB) – 16
- Step Dancing – beginners – Andrej Mikulka (SK) – 17
- 30 Lost Figure Dances –John Cullinane (IRL) – 14
- Sean nós dancing – Markéta Utišilová (CZ) – 12
- Whistle – Anna Šůrová(CZ) – 7
- Irish whistle – Robert Harvey (IRL) – 6
- Harp – Václava van der Meijs (CZ) – 6
- Fiddle – Ultan O’Brien (IRL) – 7
- Guitar (fingerpicking) – Jiří Blecha (CZ) – 6
- Irish lilting – Robert Harvey (IRL) – 10
- Irish language – Michal Boleslav Měchura (CZ) – 6
The Summer School was attended by 88 participants from 6 countries: 65 from the Czech Republic, 3 from Slovakia, 10 from Germany, 4 from Estonia, 5 from Serbia and 1 from Great Britain.
The Irish evening took place on 22 August and we could again use the historical hall of the New Town Hall. The Rookery band performed for the dancing, composed of the Perglers, Martin and complemented by Robert Harvey and Ultan O’Brien. John Cullinane contributed to the dance programme by teaching Soldier’s Joy from the “30 Lost …” collection.
The final evening was traditionally held in the Ponec Theatre (this year for the fifteenth time). The uneasy role of interpreter into English was accepted by Katka Báňová, who arrived for this evening especially. Pavel Klener took care of the video recording. A very impressive dance before the end was presented by the tutor of the most advanced dancers, Jason O’Neill, otherwise the leading dancer of Riverdance. At the end, all participants danced together a new ceilí dance called Half-penny Bridge, which is very suitable for occasional teaching.
We traditionally decorate our venue with some photograph exhibition. We select photographers from the circle of those who usually attend events that have something in common with Ireland. This year, Tomáš Krabač was chosen, with photos documenting the activities of the Sona Sól dance group, which he is a member of. The function of the receptionist was carrried once more by Jakub Šůra, while Martin Mitas took care of the summer school graphics. Water supply was provided through two dispensers, but only about 29 barrels (which is just under 580 litres) were drunk during the entire summer school.
The 19th Summer School was held from 17th to 23rd August 2019. This was the seventh year at the Botičská Primary School in Prague 2. At the very beginning, we opened a total of 17 lessons; we have eventually cancelled one for insufficient interest. We have doubled the harp and sean nós dancing lessons due to expected interest and to ensure the right level of education. This year they were opened the beginners and advanced levels in both classes. We returned to guitar lessons focused on DADGAD accompaniment. These lessons were led by Martin Jankovec, who for many years attended the summer school as a participant and this year he became a tutor. Despite last year’s lack of interest in bodhrán lessons, we have offered these lessons again and even with the same tutor. And lo and behold – 7 candidates have registered. We have also returned to Irish banjo again. And although I do advertise that the banjo also suits the girls, no girl has registered for these lessons.
The list of lessons and tutors ultimately turned out like this (the number after the name of the tutor indicates the number of participants in the lessons):
- Step Dancing – intermediate, open – Lewis Childs (GB) – 20
- Step Dancing – primary – Colene Nee (IRL) – 18
- Step Dancing – beginners – Andrej Mikulka (SK) – 10
- Ceilí, sets and two-hand dances – Tereza and Václav Bernard (CZ) – 21
- Sean nós dancing – beginners – Markéta Utišilová (CZ) – 8
- Sean nós dancing – advanced – Markéta Utišilová (CZ) – 8
- Tin whistle – Anna Šůrová(CZ) –11
- Irish flute – Robert Harvey (IRL) – 9
- Harp – beginners – Václava van der Meijs (CZ) – 2
- Harp – advanced – Václava van der Meijs (CZ) – 3
- Fiddle – Ultan O’Brien (IRL) – 13
- Guitar (DADGAD) – Martin Jankovec (CZ) – 6
- Banjo – Jan Brabec (CZ) – 4
- Bodhrán – Ladislav Veselý (CZ) – 7
- Irish lilting – Robert Harvey (IRL) – 6
- Irish – Colene Nee (IRL) – 11
Thus there were 55 people attending music lessons, 85 people danced and 17 attended other lessons.
The summer school was attended by 113 participants from 11 countries: 84 from the Czech Republic, 4 from Slovakia, 8 from Germany, 2 from Estonia, 6 from Serbia and 1 from Latvia, 4 from Poland, 1 from Sweden, 2 from Russia, 1 from Ireland and 1 from Qatar.
The Irish evening was held on 21 August and we could again use the historic hall of the New Town Hall. The Rookery band played for us and the dancers, composed of the Pergler couple, Martin Jankovec together with Robert Harvey and Ultan O‘Brien.
The Final evening was traditionally held at the Ponec Theatre (for the sixteenth time). Katka Báňová who arrived especially for this night took on the uneasy role of interpreting into English, who came especially for this evening. Pavel Klener took care of the video recording. A very impressive dance number was delivered before the end of the first half, performed by the instructor of the intermediate and open dancers, Lewis Childs, otherwise also a dancer with Lord of the Dance. In conclusion, the participants all danced the new Soldier’s Joy ceilí dance.
A traditional part of our school building decoration includes an exhibition of photographs. We select photographers from among those who are involved in events with Ireland as the common denominator. This year the choice fell on Markéta Utišilová. Jakub Šůra repeated his function of receptionist again and Martin Mitas took care of the summer school graphics. This year the drinking regime was again provided by two dispensers, but only about 24 barrels were consumed in the whole duration of the summer school, which is slightly below 500 litres.