Sunday, 22 May 2016

Mum and Baby dance/exercise class

Just what does one do for exercise and fun combined, when you've had a new baby? One Donegal primary school teacher, Maria Conway, decided she needed something more than just a mother/baby group to go out to on a morning. She wanted to get back to an exercise routine. An avid lover of dance, she also wanted to incorporate this into her exercise routine. Conway wanted to do it all together. And she just did!
Maria Conway from Letterkenny in Co. Donegal, gave birth to her son (her first born) in December last year and has been itching to get back on the dance floor since. Ms Conway is well known for her dancing skill and is a dance choreographer alongside her dancing teacher mother for various Strictly Come Dancing events throughout Donegal and the North West over the past 6/7 years.
On researching various activities online for mothers and babies, Maria found the perfect solution in America. Dance with me Baby was born and Maria became it's ambassador in Donegal. 
Dance with me Baby is a weekly session where mothers and babies dance together. Babies are strapped onto Mums chest with their baby sling and the rest is left to the dance floor. Dance with me Baby is not only great for exercise but it also enables baby development.
Mums from all walks of life are coming to Maria's Dance with me Baby class on a Thursday morning at Letterkenny Community Centre. Just last week a Saturday morning class was also added for mothers who have returned to work but still wish to continue with this new mother/baby exericse routine on the dance floor. Saturday mornings suit these busy mums. 
Most of the mothers involved in this class are those whom Maria met during her pregnancy. Little did they expect then that now, just a few short months later, they would all be dancing with their real live bumps!!
Maria is now bringing Dance with me Baby to Buncrana in Inishowen. Starting tomorow, Monday, May 23rd, Dance with me Baby will commence at The Plaza, on Buncrana main street, at 11.30am. Pop along and you just might enjoy with your little one.
Dance with me Baby may well be on a dance-floor near you very soon.
For more details on Dance With Me Baby, check out their Facebook page at Dance with me Baby.


Friday, 20 May 2016

The Simon and Garfunkel Story

London's West End is coming to Derry once more. And this time it's with Dean Elliott's now infamous The Simon and Garfunkel Story. Direct from it's success in London's West End, a SOLD OUT UK tour and standing ovations at every performance, The Simon and Garfunkel Story is back! Using huge projection photos and original film footage, this 50th anniversary celebration also features full live band performing all hits including 'Mrs Robinson', 'Cecilia', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Homeward Bound' and many more. This production takes you back through the 'Groovy' times of the 60's. It tells the story of both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel from their humble beginnings as Rock n Roll duo 'Tom and Jerry', right through their massive success, dramatic break-up and finishing with a stunning recreation of the 1981 Central Park reformation concert.
I was very fortunate to catch up earlier today with Dean Elliott, writer of the production. So just why did he put this together? "I've always been a huge fan and loved their music. No one has ever told their story in musical theatre before. It's a fascinating story."
Elliott rose to fame in the West End as the lead role in 'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story'. He says "I'm thrilled now to be able to perform the music of Simon and Garfunkel live on stage. My favourite part of the show has to be the 1981 Central Park concert. The performance just goes up a gear and I love it."
Dean is no stranger to Derry and is yet again looking forward to his return next week. He told me, "I love it there. The Millennium Forum is a real shining beacon. I love performing there. This leg of the tour finishes in Derry and I'm looking forward to getting on the Derry stage next week."
I don't doubt that we are indeed in for a really special treat next Sunday night, May 29th at Derry's Millennium Forum when 'The Simon and Garfunkel Story' takes us on the journey of Paul and Art. I know I'm certainly looking forward to the trip.
For further details and to book tickets go to Millennium Forum or call 02871264455.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

The day I met Luke Skywalker!

Star Wars mania hit the North West last weekend and Malin Head was in a frenzy as the Star Wars cast took up residence on the most northerly coast of Ireland to film part of the forthcoming film. Roads were closed off, security was in place and people were EVERYWHERE! Malin Head was alive and it was thriving.
Malin Head is one of my favourites places on earth so Star Wars did not make it any more special for me. It always has been special and it always will be. However this little piece of heaven, like much of Inishowen and North West Ireland, tends to get overlooked in terms of the overall tourism of Ireland. So in that respect Star Wars was very very welcome.
Pubs, restaurants, and local people in general went out of their way last weekend in Malin to welcome visitors from all over the globe who popped to the North West coatal village and townland in the hope of getting a glimpse of Luke Skywalker and gang. The Star Wars gang were hard at work so there was little chance of getting so much as a peep. However the dolphins were out in full force to keep the tourists and visitors entertained throughout the weekend.
I'm not a Star Wars fan so can't really jump on the bandwagon, but I do know who Luke Skywalker (aka Mark Hamill) is and as the weekend descended I began to get itcy feet...curious feet...nosey feet even.

I had a hunch that Hamill and gang may be staying in Redcastle Hotel, just down the road from me, so I thought it might be nice for Hamill to meet this North West Culture Gal!!! I'm sure he'd been hoping the same!!! Well as an avid blogger, it would be a shame to miss this opportunity.
So on Saturday night I met a good friend and cousin for coffee at the said hotel. As we all had plans for the night, it was a short sit and with no special guests in sight we left around 10pm. Sunday was another night! And again it was to be coffee in Redcastle with another friend. Coffee at 11pm isn't usually a good idea, but this was all for a good reason, wasn't it! This was Luke Skywalker I awaited after all!
Just before midnight and the hotel all quiet, a black car pulled up outside. I almost spilled my coffee when I saw the head coming out from the back of the car. This was it. Now or never. It was time Skywalker met me!
As I met him in the hallway I said a simple, "Hi Mark". He stopped and chatted for a few moments and even permitted my taking some photos. When a young man Shea came out to the hallway with his
mother, it was only then that I realised that I really was in the presence of a HUGE star. Shea was mesmorised and just kept saying, "Mum, that's Luke Skywalker: that's Luke Skywalker." Thank heavens I'd had a chat with Hamill as just then I became starstruck. This really was Luke Skywalker, and he had his arm around me chatting. When he planted a kiss goodnight on my cheek, I think I walked back to my friend, literally on air. I had just spoken to, photographed, and been kissed by, none other that THE Luke Skywalker.

Since Sunday night a number of people have asked me how I got the nerve to talk to Mark Hamill. I was able to explain quite easily: the man may be one of the biggest stars on the planet, but he was just a normal, lovely guy to chat to. Had I not known who he was, I would have assumed he was just a regular tourist at the hotel.
Mark Hamill may be Luke Skywalker in the movies, but in real life, he's a real down-to-earth guy and could not have been nicer to myself or that little boy Shea.
Cheers Mark, it really was a pleasure. And one of these days, I must sit down and watch Star Wars. Maybe then I'll begin to take it all in, just who it was that danced in front of me and kissed my cheek last Sunday night.


FOOTLOOSE - tickets are LIMITED!

It really is time to cut loose if you're a FOOTLOOSE fan. The West End is coming to Derry in just over one weeks time and tickets are flying out the door. 

If you haven’t yet booked your ticket to the hottest show of the season, then you’d better be quick as the Millennium Forum has just announced that the smash hit musical, FOOTLOOSE has now only limited availability for its week-long run at the end of May. In fact, the North West’s premier arts venue can confirm that the Opening Night performance on Tues 31st May is now almost sold out!

The West End touring production opens at the Millennium Forum on Tuesday 31st May and the Box Office team at the Forum has been inundated with bookings.

Box Office Manager, Lisa Heaney, encourages everyone who hasn’t yet booked, to do so soon.  She said:

“Footloose the Musical is the smash hit musical based on the hit 80s movie and we are really looking forward to hosting this high energy show once again which is always a favourite with local audiences. As well as the Opening Night performance being close to sell-out, we also have limited tickets available for the Saturday evening performance, so I would strongly recommend that people who haven’t yet booked their seat, to do so very soon.”

Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet. Featuring classic 80s hits includingHolding Out for a HeroAlmost ParadiseLet's Hear it for the Boy and the unforgettable title track,Footloose: The Musical is set to take the world by storm once again in this brand new production, bursting with youthful spirit, dazzling dance and electrifying music.

Starring Maureen Noland and Lee Brennan, Footloose the Musical is proudly supported by the Derry News, Media Partner.

Footloose: The Musical performs at the Millennium Forum from Tues 31st May to Sat 4th June.  Tickets are now available from the Box Office. Telephone 71 264455 or visit for bookings.