John Redmond St, Shandon, Cork, T23 Y584
Dance Cork is based in the Firkin Crane in Shandon. This historic building became the most important centre for dance in the city because of one woman - Joan Denise Moriarty.
Joan Denise’s early life is mysterious but we do know she had Irish parents and was bought up in England. She studied ballet at the famous Rambert Ballet School. She also won many awards for Irish dancing and traditional music.
In 1933 she returned to Ireland and lived in Mallow and then Cork city. She set up dancing schools across Cork and beyond. She established the Cork Ballet Company and performed with them as well as inviting famous ballet dancers to join their tours. She organised a number of other ballet companies including what became Irish National Ballet. Her companies took ballet all over Ireland.
Joan Denise’s experience of Irish dancing and ballet meant she could mix the two together in the dances she wrote and performed. She based many of them on Irish myths and legends.
When the Firkin Crane, the former centre of Cork’s butter trade, came up for sale Joan Denise made sure it was bought for the Irish Ballet Company.
She died in 1992 and remains one of the most important people in the development of dance in Ireland.