Larne man brings lord of the Spanish dance home for flamenco spectacular
He is bringing the colour and passion of Spanish dance to his home town of Larne after 35 years away.
Former champion Irish dancer Les Baird, based in Malaga on the Costa del Sol for over three decades, is sharing a spectacular flamenco show with a Northern Ireland audience for the first time.
The Spanish Flamenco Dance Show's lead dancer and director Vicente Renero is respected across the country, particularly in Andalucia, as one of genre's most authentic artists.
Les travelled all over the world in dance troupes before deciding to hang up his dancing shoes to open La Cala de Mijas boutique hotel on the Costa del Sol.
He told the Belfast Telegraph he had always wanted to bring an authentic flamenco show to Northern Ireland.
"The show is permanently based in a theatre in Malaga called Sala Embrujo and this year during their rest period we have decided to bring them to Northern Ireland," he said.
"Vicente Renero is a very well-known and accomplished dancer in Spain and has amazing talent as a dancer and choreographer.
"He brings an exciting and vibrant show with the most professional dance company in Andalucia at the minute.
"The company will have 12 people on stage with five girl dancers, four male dancers plus our musicians who are a guitarist, a singer and a percussionist on the cajon (box-shaped instrument).
"The highlight of the show is Vicente's Solo de Pied; it will mesmerise any member of the public who is lucky enough to see this performance."
Les is also bringing an exhibition of Irish dance costumes from the past 75 years to Northern Ireland with all proceeds going to Macmillan and the NI Hospice in memory of his mother.
"I had the idea over a year ago when I had heard so many people in the Irish dancing world didn't know what to do with their old costumes," he said.
"As I still adjudicate and examine all over the world, I have great contacts to approach people and asked for donations of any unwanted costumes to make the collection.
"Then remembering my mother, who loved Irish dancing so much, she was taken from us very suddenly with cancer, I thought of the idea of saving a little bit of our heritage by putting together an exhibition of the costumes.
"When I approached my friends in the Irish dancing world everyone thought it was a fabulous idea, and from there the ball started rolling. We have now got over 100 costumes all donated by ex-dancers, families and teachers."
- The Spanish Flamenco Dance Show will play The Auditorium in Larne, January 9-11 at 8pm. Tickets are available from Larne Tourist Information Office. It will also play on January 13 in Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena.
- Exhibition of Irish Dance costumes dating from 1940-2014. At the Larne Townhall January 6-17. Open weekdays 11am -4pm, Saturdays 10am-1pm. Entrance fee £2.50 All proceeds to Macmillan nurses/NI Hospice.