Born and raised in Chéticamp, Cape Breton, Sylvie and Christine Doucet have been step dancing for as long as they can remember. They were both founding members of La swing du suête and have shared their love of dancing with many audiences over the years. Both sisters live in Cheticamp and are involved with the local arts council and dance troupe. They are happy to be reunited on stage to share their love of dance and celtic music.
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Derrick and Melody Cameron live in Mabou, Cape Breton on the small dairy farm where Derrick was raised. Melody is an accomplished Cape Breton style dancer and fiddle player. They have performed together throughout Canada’s Maritime Provinces and the New England States and have released three recordings. Derrick and Melody are currently acting as coordinators for a Féis Mhàbu project named “The Mabou Musical Mentorship Program”. The program’s focus is on using house sessions to bring together talented young performers of Cape Breton music and dance with well established tradition bearers.
Dannsa are gaining great respect in Scotland and abroad for their traditional and innovating dancing. Believing the relationship between the music and dance is fundamental to the spirit and style, core dancers Caroline Reagh and Sandra Robertson, and piper and stepdancer Fin Moore always dance to live music – fiddle, pipes and Gaelic song. Rounding out the lineup for Celtic Colours are original member Frank McConnell, Artist in Residence Mac Morin from Cape Breton, and Scottish fiddler Sarah Hoy.
Helen MacDonald and Dawn MacDonald-Gillis began step dancing at the ages of 5 and 8 under the tutelage of Kaye Hanrahan in New Waterford. With strong ties to the Iona area, they grew up surrounded by traditional Cape Breton music. By the time they had reached their teen years, their synchronized footwork saw them invited to perform in many concerts in Cape Breton and beyond. They began teaching step dancing, both privately and for other dancing schools in the industrial Cape Breton area. They both continue to teach step dance workshops.
Dawn and Margie Beaton have been performing at concerts, ceilidhs and festivals since they were very young. They have performed in the Maritimes, Scotland, Ireland, France, USA, England, Brazil and China, and been featured internationally on television, radio and video. A fixture at Celtic Colours since the festival began, they were chosen as recipients of the Frank Sampson Award in 2008. The Award helped them record their first CD, “Taste of Gaelic”. The unique and traditional album with tunes composed by Dawn and Margie, won an East Coast Music Award in 2010 for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year.
Erin is just one of the many fabulously talented Leahy family siblings, based out of Ontario but with family roots in Inverness County, Cape Breton. Erin’s rhythmic piano style will be featured in the special concert Keys to the Cape Breton Piano, exploring the evolution of the Cape Breton piano from an accompaniment role to a solo medium, along with Tracey Dares MacNeil, Troy MacGillivray, and Artist in Residence Mac Morin.
Whether performing with her full band in front of thousands, as a vibrant acoustic duo with guitarist Seph Peters or solo in a kitchen of her native Inverness County playing the old tunes of her ancestors, Gillian never ceases to inspire with the dynamic expression of her music. On stage or in the classroom, Gillian is most comfortable with violin in hand and has been since the age of 10. She has toured throughout Turkey, Scotland, England, Canada and New Zealand. Gillian will be accompanied by Seph Peters on guitar at the Festival this year.
With an interpretation, style, and energy all her own, Gillian Head delights audiences with her lively fiddling. Her influences include the variations and modern style of contemporary fiddlers, as well as the strong roots of the old traditional fiddlers of her native Cape Breton Island. A stepdancer from a young age, Gillian took up the fiddle after falling in love with the music. Studying with Stephanie Wills and Jerry Holland, and her love of dance, contribute to Gillian’s distinctive, rhythmic style of fiddling. She has played all over Cape Breton, and has recently released her debut album titled Spirit.