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 many forms of dance such as 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 realised 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. 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. As We Know It has been shown as part of Dance Ireland’s symposium of WHO AM I, an exploration of how artistic identity is maintained in a nomadic lifestyle. Most 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 will also be performed at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. in May 2016.
Kristyn currently resides in Limerick, Ireland where she continues her creative process exploring and integrating the two worlds of Traditional Irish Dance 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 Enable Ireland and Hip Hop Intervention to bring dance to disabled children in the Limerick area. Kristyn has recently been awarded the 2015 Traditional Arts Bursary from the Arts Council for her current project, IN LIMBO.
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