Shannon Dunne was captivated by the Broadway style of tap as a young child growing up in New Jersey. Her early education in this form focused on the overall musicality of dance, which has served Shannon well over the years as her love of tap spread to encompass a host of percussive dance forms including hoofing, flatfoot and clogging, Irish and Cape Breton step dance, and sean-nós.
Bolstered by a slew of collaborations and residencies early in her career with several dance companies including Footworks and Childsplay, Shannon soon found herself with an impressive collection of shoes to match her diverse abilities. Time spent with these companies of renowned and gifted dancers resulted in the development of learning and teaching styles focused on inquiry and cultural sensitivity with an understanding that context is equal to form.
As is evident, Shannon’s technique and skill as a dancer blossomed during these formative years. This exploration of dance brought her understanding about what was at once universal and yet wholly unique about these dance forms and helped launch her into the professional and successful career she pursues today.
Shannon is also a dedicated mother and teacher, and the formation of classes and camps centered on teaching children is a testament to her dedication to this dual role. Her ability to reach children at a level that inspires and challenges them to become articulate dancers, curious learners and thoughtful future bearers of tradition is singular.
The Shannon Dunne Dance Company and Camp Shenanigans focus on bringing young ones into the world of percussive dance in an environment that is as supportive as it is artistic and authentic. She also brings these elements to her adult classes, sharing her experience and expertise with eager students experiencing their second childhood through dance.
Irish traditional music plays a paramount role in Shannon’s life as both a robust dancer and an unostentatious musician. Her studies on button accordion with famed box player Billy McComiskey and on concertina with Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin and Alex Boatright have given her further knowledge about Ireland’s dance music, which fuels the spirit of sean-nós dancing.
This interpretative dance form from western Co. Galway closely mimics the music, and the worth of a dancer like Shannon is in her ability to convey this connection—and convey she does. Her work with master dancers such as Róisín Ní Mhainín, Pádraig Ó hOibicín, Gearóid and Patrick Devane, to name but a few, has given her intimate access to this tight-knit dance community and has afforded her a place among the top sean-nós dancers in North America.
Shannon Dunne’s talents and abilities have been recognized by many an art-based organization including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also worked alongside cultural community organizations such as the O’Neill-Malcom Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a dance director and works continuously to positively shape the future of Irish dance in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Her collaborative nature has seen her dance on stages across the globe with groups such as the Mick Moloney's Celitc Appalachia, Kitchen Quartet, Christylez Bacon's Washington Sound Museum, as well as record with musicians such as DC-based ensemble Lilt. Her choreography has been featured at the DC Christmas Revels and performed by various companies in the U.S. including the Kieran Jordan Dancers, the Maldon Meehan Dancers and the Teelin Irish Dance Company. Shannon Dunne is a performer of extraordinary integrity and merit with many years of experience behind her and an ever-brightening future ahead.
Brian Ó hAirt