Kristyn Fontanella is a dance professional with a broad range of experience in dance and theatre. Best known for her lead role in Gaelforce Dance, she has trained in many dance forms, which has taken her all over the world with professional touring companies, and has now transitioned into her unique expression as a choreographer.
Born in Connecticut, USA Kristyn started dance at the age of six with the Griffith Academy. From a young age she was very successful in competition and went on to compete at international level. Being trained in tap, jazz, ballet, modern and Irish Step – Kristyn was influenced by many artists and continually pushed the boundaries within the strict format of Irish Step dancing.
Kristyn first got the theatre bug in one of the America’s largest dinner theatres, The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Here she was appointed dance captain and assistant choreographer on two productions. In 2001 Kristyn embarked with touring companies Dancing on Common Ground and World famous Trinity Irish Dance Company based in Chicago, IL. In 2002 she toured the USA, Canada, and Mexico with Lord of the Dance and with Riverdance in the Boyne Company in 2004.
With Kristyn’s creative nature she soon moved on after a few years in each of these main productions to a new and creative adventure with Gaelforce Dance. In 2006 Kristyn travelled to Dublin to join a cast of 25 as the lead female in the role of Aisling opposite Johnathan Tweedie as Lorcan. This is where Kristyn found her calling of creating movement using her knowledge of Irish traditional dance in a contemporary context and creating some of her first Irish dance fusion. While touring Europe and Asia for 3 years with Gaelforce Dance and their sister show Irish Nights, she choreographed multiple solos and duets focused on her area of interest. After returning back to the states, Kristyn connected with smaller more intimate shows where she had more flexibility with choreography and range of characters to portray. These shows included Celtic Crossroads and Beyond the Bog Road, where Kristyn was fortunate to work one-on-one with world-renowned fiddle player Eileen Ivers. During this time Kristyn reflected on her dance career and realized she needed to take her practice to a new level.
In 2013, after attaining her BFA with high honours in Theatre and Dance from Central Connecticut State University, she moved to Limerick, Ireland to pursue this next chapter in her choreographic journey at the University of Limerick. Here she attained an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance with honours under Dr. Mary Nunan. During her time in Limerick Kristyn began teaching movement integration and dance performance to theatre students at Musical Theatre Ireland in Cork, and was asked back for their 2015 season as a regular dance tutor. While studying, her choreography was highlighted at the 20th anniversary of the Irish World Academy's presentation of Splanc. After finishing her degree, Kristyn had a full summer performing 'A Dance Concerto' by choreographer Laura Murphy, Cork’s Dancer in Residence at the Firkin Crane, as well as being appointed as the assistant manager for the Step Up Dance Project where she got to partake in daily classes with Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and his company, Fabulous Beast. In the fall of 2014 Kristyn was awarded Dance Ireland’s Mentored Residency in Traditional Dance with dance artist and performer Colin Dunne. This resulted in a piece titled As We Know It, which has developed further with dance partner Sibéal Davitt with support from Dance Limerick, Culture Ireland and The Arts Council. As We Know It has been shown as part of Dance Ireland’s symposium of WHO AM I, Dance Research Forum Ireland's conference in NYC in June 2016, Tanzmesse Dance Platform in Düsseldorf Germany in Aug. 2016. First Looks in Dublin Dance Festival 2017, in Derry for the Echo Echo Dance Festival and Marseille France to perform in the Question de Danse Festival. More recently Kristyn has finished working with Jean Butler on her new duet with Belfast cellist Neil Martin, this is an Irish dance. This piece premiered in November 2015 at DanSpace in New York City and has shown at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. in May 2016.
In May of 2016 Kristyn performed her solo 'hup'accompanied by musician Gillian Power at the Laois Dance Platform. In August of 2016 and again in 2018 she co-directed along side Chris Naish the Fusion Dance Fest held at LIT. The two dance performers met while on tour with Lord of the Dance and are looking to share at this festival their own creative practices within the Irish dance genre to younger generations.
Kristyn currently resides in Galway where she continues her creative process exploring and integrating the two worlds of Traditional and Contemporary. She teaches locally at Dance Limerick and is a tutor on the BA and MA courses at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Kristyn has also teamed up with Galway Dance Project as their Programme Assistant. Kristyn was most recently accepted to the MAKE & MOVE programme, run by Dance Ireland and mentored by Catherine Young. She is currently working on her full-length production of IN LiMBO after receiving the 2018 Traditional Arts Project Award from the Irish Arts Council, which will show at the Firkin Crane Cork and Town Hall Theatre Galway on September 6thand 7th.
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