La Swing du Suête initially came together in 1997 for the first annual Cape Breton Dance Festival in Cheticamp. Over the years, La Swing du Suête has presented itself across the Maritime provinces as well as in Quebec and Louisiana, USA. The troupe continues to enchant audiences with their music, their dances, and particularly their charm. This troupe is comprised of some 27 dancers ranging in age from 10 to 17 all students at École NDA in Chéticamp.
Lisa started step dancing at the age of six and in her early teens took up the fiddle. She is a seasoned step dance instructor, having taught locally, nationally, and internationally. She toured regularly, playing music and dancing, with Celtic fusion group, Slainte Mhath and currently works as the Fundraising Coordinator for the Northside Community Guest Home Foundation.
In 1987, using a harp loaned to her by the Clan MacNeil organization in Iona, Lucy MacNeil went to Houlton, Maine to study with Elizabeth Hannon from Ireland. Not long after, she wrote a tune called “The Lone Harper” that was included on a compilation album and the Barras MacNeils album “Rock In The Stream”. The harp was added to the instruments she already played with the group—fiddle and bodhran—but beyond Christmas shows it was used sparingly. Lucy is very much looking forward to revisiting the instrument and playing in concert this year with one of her favourite harp players, Laoise Kelly from Ireland.
Kelly MacArthur is a champion dancer from Cape Breton, who has competed and performed all over the world and taught Highland and Cape Breton Step Dance for the past 25 years, including 15 years at her own Dance Studio in Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. The school has a performance troupe called the CapeLand Dancers which consists of top level dancers from all over Cape Breton. Performing with Kelly are Beth MacLellan and Breagh MacInnis. Both girls have been dancing with Kelly for 15 years, and are top competitors and seasoned performers.
Melody has been around Cape Breton music all her life. She has been step dancing from the age of five and has played the fiddle for over 20 years. Melody has danced and given workshops in the Inverness County Square Set and the Scots Four and has performed with Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. She has entertained all over Cape Breton in festivals, concerts, pubs and dances and with her sister, Kelly MacLellan, performed a synchronized step dance routine for The Rankin Sisters’ televised Christmas special, Home for Christmas which aired on Canada’s Bravo! network in December of 2005.
Natalie MacMaster is an electrifying performer whose fiddle-playing has become synonymous with Cape Breton’s traditional music. It’s a signature sound that has resonated with world audiences through 11 albums; numerous Juno and East Coast Music Awards; two honorary degrees and an honorary doctorate; the Order Of Canada; and a reputation as one of Canada’s most captivating performers. In addition to publishing a coffee table book in 2010, Natalie had recently released her eleventh album, “Cape Breton Girl”. She has been an ambassador of Cape Breton fiddle music, and we’re very happy to have her home to celebrate Celtic Colours this year.
Bill and John Pellerin are brothers who were born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Bill started dancing at six years of age and John at four. When he was ten, John also began playing fiddle. Their father, Kenneth, played fiddle for dances for years in the Antigonish area. Their roots go deep in Cape Breton tradition as well. Their grandmother on their mother’s side is a Beaton from the Mabou Coal Mines. Dancing and fiddling has brought both Bill and John throughout Canada, USA and Ireland.
Rodney MacDonald is an accomplished Cape Breton performer who has toured throughout Atlantic Canada. He is the grandson of the great fiddler and composer, Donald Angus Beaton. He began learning stepdancing from his parents at the age of four. He excelled in stepdancing and soon picked up the fiddle. He recorded his own solo recording in 1996 entitled Dancer’s Delight, Traditionally Rockin’ in 1997(with his cousin Glenn Graham) and he was also included on the 2004 Smithsonian release The Beaton Family of Mabou: Cape Breton Fiddle and Piano Music. In 1998 he received two nominations for the East Coast Music Awards.