Meet the Member: Kristyn Fontanella
Kristyn Fontanella is a dancer and choreographer residing in Galway, Ireland. To find out more about her training, body of work and awards she has received, see here.
How long have you been dancing?/ What is your earliest memory of dancing?
I started dancing at the age of 6 with the Griffith Academy in Connecticut, USA (so for those of you who are counting that is 32 years). My earliest memory was dancing with Miss Mary at the American Legion Hall during Halloween week and she was dressed as a giant pumpkin with green tights and a stem for a hat!
Where did you train?
I studied Irish step dancing from the Griffith Academy as well as ballet, tap and jazz. I continued on to study dance at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, and then completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts (Magna Cum Laude) from Central Connecticut State University. I toured for over 12 years with shows such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, and then decided to move to Ireland and completed the MA Dance Performance degree at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.
What has been your favourite performance you have performed in, or created, to date and why?
My favourite performance throughout my career has to be 'The Love Duet' I created with Johnathan Tweedie for the tour of Gaelforce Dance in 2006. It was the first time both of us were leads in an Irish Dance show and were able to create a duet that suited all of our different training as dancers. Credit to the choreographer of the show, Richard Griffin, for placing his trust in us. We toured for 3 years all over Europe and Asia and my favourite performance was in Warsaw, Poland at the Palace of Arts and Culture.
How long, from the first idea, to touring a show, can it typically take you to create work to be shown to audiences?
I do like to take my time, so I had many phases of my last show IN LiMBO which took almost 3 years from development to touring. I like to fill the stage with performers; from musicians playing live to dancers who add to the music percussively as well. So this is a tricky task to manage and financially support. Aren't all good things worth the wait?
What is it like when youre on the road, touring a show?
Well for this past tour it was a lot of laughing, answering phone calls/emails, and saying 'one more time'. To be honest I had an amazing team, cast and crew, which made my job much easier. To get to work with people who are insanely talented and who always put a smile on my face is a dream come true. Its not worth doing if you aren't having fun! Since I applied for the Advance touring award through the arts council, I had the time to really plan the tour thoroughly. So after most shows we would all grab a bite to eat, and either have a Netflix marathon (Cheer!) or follow the musicians to a session or two.
Favourite music to dance to?
A staple on my warm up playlist whether it is by myself or with my dancers is always: 'Send Me On My Way' by Rusted Root AND ‘Once In a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads.
What do you do, for fun, when you are not dancing?
I love to go on hikes around county Galway, or down to the prom for some ice cream. For fun I like to travel to some of my best friends scattered around Europe and cause havoc in their cities. But to be honest that usually involves a good cheese board and some video games!
Desert island…you can bring three things. What do you bring?
My Cats, hot sauce and a hammock.
If people wanted to see you, where could they find you on a regular day?
Well now in my garden, in the hammock! But usually I would be teaching on the BA and MA course at the IWAMD and my 50+ group at Dance Limerick. And if I was off work I would be down in my village cafe Poppyseed working on my computer (great staff, free wifi and a great oat milk flat white!)