Artistic Director Mags Byrne has been working professionally in dance for over 35 years. She has performed and toured with many contemporary dance companies and choreographed and mounted projects for groups and companies all over Britain and Ireland, as well as in Austria, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Palestine, Romania, South Africa and Switzerland.
Mags loves chillaxing at the cinema or watching a film with a big mug of tea. An avid viewer of all sports, (except cricket and tennis), and loves sing-a-long music, which, to the annoyance of everybody around her is basically any music, in any genre, unconsciously sung on repeat!!!!!!
Gina Donnelly remains with the company as a Creative Producer working closely alongside Kate and will lead on projects, production, events and ongoing programmes.
As a a freelance Theatre Maker, Gina’s practice includes work as a playwright, director, producer, stage manager and production manager. She is one half of the artistic partnership SkelpieLimmer with Seón Simpson, the multi-award winning team behind ‘Two Fingers Up’ and ‘Scaredy Fat’. She has worked internationally in many different roles including as a Stage Manager on Oona Doherty’s Award Winning ‘Hard To Be Soft.’
Kate Guelke joins us as a Creative Producer working closely alongside Gina whilst leading on strategic planning and overseeing day to day finance, fundraising and income generation.
As a freelance director Kate has directed over a dozen productions for the NI Opera Studio, Spark Opera and Stage Beyond. She has produced full-scale opera classics, pop up operas, operas for children, community operas, community musicals and new opera shorts.
Kate loves to watch 90s disaster movies and is always the first to give karaoke a go!
Programme Director for the Youth Engagement Projects, Deborah Hamilton has extensive dance and community arts experience – as a performer, choreographer and previously held positions as a Performing Arts & Dance lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College, Ulster University and Stranmillis College of Higher Education.
Deborah loves to go puddle jumping with her grandchildren – and has even entered competitions – but often winds up covered in more mud than the little people!
Dr. Philip Johnston danced for several leading dance companies in Europe and Scandinavia. He was the Artistic Director of the Norwegian Modern Dance Company. In the United States Philip received an MFA in Dance and a PhD in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was an Associate Professor in the Dance and Theatre Departments at the University of Illinois where he choreographed and directed many works for the stage for: actors, dancers and singers. Philip is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique and a T’ai Chi and Qigong practitioner. His publications include: The Lost Tribe in the Mirror: Four Playwrights of Northern Ireland (pub. Lagan Press) and Nina Fonaroff: Life and Art in Dance (pub. Celtic Cat). Philip will be leading the new Alternative Energies intergenerational programme in Ballycastle.
Sheena Kelly, a graduate of LIPA, is a dance artist whose interest lies within the contemporary dance field and community dance practice. As Community Engagement Artist, Sheena is responsible for developing community links, new audiences and increasing participant numbers from Northern Ireland’s most challenged communities.
Sheena loves spending the weekend at the beach with Hubby and Rescue Dog Harvey. Back in 2013 she spent a week trekking the Inca trail with her dad and uncle. She once interviewed Ed Sheeran about his time as a participant with British Youth Music Theatre and he very kindly gave free tickets to his Belfast gig that night.
Artistic Consultant and internationally renowned choreographer, Royston Maldoom, has been the initiator and leader of numerous dance projects in Northern Ireland and across the world. Now resident in Berlin, he is known particularly for his work in the field of community dance. His work was honoured in the movie Rhythm Is It! and he has received many international honours and awards including: Deutscher Ehren-Tanzpreis; Special Schiller Award; Order of the British Empire; German-British Forum Award; Club der Optimisten. Mags and Royston are particularly well known in the dance world for their work with street and working children in Ethiopia over a period of ten years.
Christine O’Neill performed with DU Dance on our first Sutemos project in 2012 at the CRAIC Arts Centre, Dungannon. Prior to this she had been part of numerous projects with dance artist Sheena Kelly, and increasingly became passionate about community dance. Since completing her dance qualifications, Christine has been educated in various dance techniques and keeps up her own training by always wanting to learn new ways to move.
She is very excited to return to her roots by joining us to work with the Sutemos and Suteminis Youth Engagement Project.
Christine loves to watch the ducks in the park and sometimes they even quack at her really loudly!
Sean O’Neill first became involved with DU Dance (NI) through Sutemos Youth Engagement Project and has assisted, volunteered as well as performed with the group over the last decade. Through the company he has had the opportunity to perform all over Ireland, Germany and appeared on the BBC National Lottery Show. Sean has also been a member of the Youth Steering Group and was a Young Ambassador for the company. He has a wealth of experience within theatre and dance and is delighted to be working as the Director for the Belfast Boys Youth Engagement Project.
Morag Stuart joined the team as Marketing Co-ordinator in 2021. Morag has over twenty years marketing experience across a broad spectrum of organisations and since 2007 within the arts in Northern Ireland. This includes WheelWorks, Young at Art Events, National Museums and as a volunteer with the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. She is currently a tutor on the MA Arts Management & Cultural Policy at Queens.
Morag loves travelling especially if it involves snorkelling in warm seas and platters of tapas. However more often she can be found dipping her toes in our cold seas, running markets in the east of the city and catching as many plays and concerts as a busy family life allows.
Board of directors 2022/23
- Rosamond Bennett, chairperson – chief executive officer of Christian Aid Ireland.
Rosamond loves sea swimming and ventures in at Port Muck several times a week, whatever the weather, along with coastal rowing. This requires technical training on a rowing machine and rowing to music twice per week (for stamina building) immediately followed by a circuit training class aimed at building up core muscles needed for rowing.
- Les McLean, treasurer – Project Manager, Business Services Organisation. Formerly Heritage Development Manager for Ulster Rugby.
Les’ first love is sport, and he played rugby badly for many years, even after his family and his body were telling him to stop. He worked for a year with the Ulster Branch of the IRFU on a Heritage Lottery funded project looking at rugby club heritage, a job that was so enjoyable his wife took to calling it his gap year
- Valerie Catterson, company secretary – accountant & freelance finance manager.
- Claire Flynn – Head of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement (UK), The National Lottery Heritage Fund
From a young age, Claire found herself immersed in the captivating rhythms and melodies of traditional Irish music, song, story and dance . This soundtrack of her childhood shaped her understanding of the importance of cultural heritage. She is a former Irish dancing Ulster champion (albeit under 8s), and the proud owner of a set of Uillean Pipes which she has plans to get back to playing this year!
- Tom Hughes – part of the creative marketing team at BBC Northern Ireland.
Tom loves to play and listen to music as much as he can, whether it be wild experimental drone, singing songs with his children, or sampling the sound the ladder to the loft makes as it opens. As a filmmaker and musician he loves to work with dancers including projects funded by Maiden Voyage, NI Screen and ACNI, but has only worked with DU Dance the once……..
- Marie O’Donoghue – Arts Educationalist, Education Authority Northern Ireland.
Youth Steering Group 2024/25
Dance artists on projects 2022 to present
Hannah Armstrong, Bridget Byrne, Mags Byrne, Sorcha Ni Cheallaigh, Gary Clarke, Terry Conlon, Rhys Devlin, Janie Doherty, Conor Anthony Downey, Michaela Elliot, Jamie-Lee Fagan, Robby Graham, Helen Hall, Ciaran Gray, Shelley Eva Haden, Deborah Hamilton, Amy Hill, Brona Jackson, Philip Johnston, Molly Kelly, Sheena Kelly, Clara Kerr, Lauren Martin, Charmaine McMeekin, Christine O’Neill, Sean O’Neill, Mayte Ruiz, Mayte Segura, Justine Taggart, Rebecca Wallace
Artists, technical & support on projects 2022 to present
John Barry – Consultant, Simon Bird – Stage Manager, Jake Campbell – Designer, Aaron Cathcart – MC, Jim Corr – Photographer, Jane Coyle – Writer, Fionntan Dempsey- Film Artist, Gareth Doran – Lighting Designer, Jason Dunne – Stage Manager, Hannah Harvey – Sound Designer, Claire Hughes – Ceili dance artist, Lina Ingvarsson – Visual Artis, Joe Fox – Photographer, Isaac Gibson – Sound Design, Deborah Hamiliton – Crafts, Amy Hill – Lighting Designer, Zhenia Mahdi – Film Director, Jim McKeown – Film Artist, Damian Mills – Musician, Andy Paton – Technical support, Patrick J. O’Reilly – Director, Lisa Ryan – Chaperone, Chris Umney – Lighting Designer
Volunteers on projects in 2022 to present
Ciaran Gray, Rose Hamilton, Michaela McIlvenna, Orlagh McSorley, Lisa Ryan, Samridhi Saini, Rebecca Wallace, Brona Whitaker