The determination of Joan Denise Moriarty to set up a professional ballet company in Ireland has resulted in the Irish Theatre Ballet.

Joan Denise Moriarty tells Ronnie Walsh about her return to Ireland to establish firstly the Cork Ballet Company and later the Irish Theatre Ballet.

Joan started dancing at the age of four and trained in England and Paris. Returning to Ireland in 1944, she set up a junior school from which evolved the Cork Ballet Company and the Irish Theatre Ballet. It had always been her intention to establish a fully professional ballet company in Ireland. 

When I came here one time on a visit, I discovered that ballet just wasn't known in this country and I set the task of giving Cork its ballet company and Ireland its ballet company. That's how it all started.

The fully professional Irish Theatre Ballet company now tours throughout Ireland in towns with a population of over two thousand. The company has received a great reception all over the country and according to Joan, audiences are particularly interested in Irish ballets as well as the classics.  

The dancers do classes in the morning and perform at night, and the company affords Irish dancers the opportunity to be full-time professional ballet dancers. For Joan, the whole idea in establishing an Irish ballet company was to take dance to the whole country and to offer Irish performers the opportunity to dance professionally.

Three-quarter of the professional dancers in the Irish Theatre Ballet are Irish with the other dancers coming from as far as Israel and Australia.  The Cork Ballet School now has around 150 children. Joan has also set up two other schools in Waterford and Clonmel each with around 60 children. 

The Irish Theatre Ballet receives a small grant from the Arts Council but most of the funding comes from Joan's friends, firms, industrialists, jumble sales, a football pools, and any other fund-raising methods they can think of.  

Londoner Geoffrey Davidson is the ballet master at the Irish Theatre Ballet, which he describes as a small experimental group. Geoffrey is currently in rehearsals for 'Cinderella' which will play at Cork City Hall later in the year.

This episode of 'Broadsheet' was broadcast on 15 January 1963. The reporter is Ronnie Walsh.

'Broadsheet' was a magazine style, nightly review of people and events introduced by John O'Donoghue and presented by the Broadsheet Unit.