The Spasskaya Tower Jersey - our journey to Russia

When I was contacted by Darya Markosyan (Carey Academy Russia) to design and supply jerseys for the dancers performing at the Spasskaya Tower Festival, I had a very limited understanding of the extent of this event that attracts international dignitaries and an audience of over 70,000 from around the world.  Essentially the Spasskaya Tower Festival is a cross cultural event of huge significance in Russia.  ]Through further communication with Darya, I learned that International Dance Team features 36 Irish dancers from 6 different schools across Russia, Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic (Carey Academy Russia, Ronan Morgan School, Iridan academy, Ceilidh School, Red Star Academy, Avalon Academy, McGahan Lees, Instep School and Greenwood School).  Artistic director of the team was Maria Zotko who, as a choreographer and dancer, has already presented several performances during the past Festivals. Darya and her dancers were travelling extensively to practice a piece choreographed especially for the event; “Claddagh Dreams”. 

This project brought together Intermediate and Open level dancers aged 12-45yrs with some living over 10000 km away from each other, spanning a distance from Bonn in Germany to Khabarovsk on the Far East of Russia.  The team included four musicians (accordion, keyboard, flute and guitar); William Paterson and Kevin Murphy, performing alongside Dmitrij Smolnyakov and Marina Zhuravleva.

We agreed on jersey colours and design and production began well in advance of their departure to Russia where they would meet and prepare for 7 days of performances in August.  Getting packages into Russia can be difficult and when messages began to arrive about difficulties with customs, I began to worry that the jerseys would not make it to the dancers in time for the event!  Luckily after a series of phone calls over three days, the jerseys were released and could begin their journey! 

Technically that was our work complete.  Design, manufacture and delivery complete.  But really, it was just the beginning of a new understanding for me of the extent of the ability for Irish dance to transcend borders; physical and cultural.  As Darya shared the dancers experiences over the period of several days; the behind the scene videos and photos as well as the formal performances on the red square and at the Kremlin, I began to realise the extent of the event and its significance in terms of culture. Performances were attended by the outgoing Irish Consulate Arthur Hendrick and incoming Irish Consulate Sean Norton, Princess Stephanie of Monaco and the legendary French singer Mireille Маthieu.  The team were in good company with international bands and folk groups as well as noted athletes Svetlana Khorkina, two times Olympic Champion in sports gymnastics, Svetlana Ishmuratova, two times Olympic Champion in biathlon, and Ekaterina Galkina, two times winner of the European Curling Championship.

With Darya’s permission I let the Irish Dancing Magazine know about the event who agreed it was an amazing story to share with dancers all around the word - that their passion was not just celebrated at national events and international competitions but was embraced across cultural and physical barriers where and was introduced to and shared with international groups and performers.

Irish dancing may have started with us here in Ireland but it continues to transcend borders, culture and language to unit and uplift performers, musicians and audiences. 

The Audition process for next year begins in November - contact Darya Markoysan at

Check out the feature in this months Irish Dancing Magazine and visit the International Irish Dance teams Facebook page.

Visit our Jersey page and team wear page (The Academy Collection)

Irish Dancing Magazine Spasskaya Tower Festival 2018

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