Barrington Irish step dancer among 13 national NEA fellows
RHODE ISLAND NATIVE Kevin Doyle, pictured above performing at 2013 National Heritage Concert in Washington, D.C., will receive a $25,000 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of 13 artists to receive such an award.
BARRINGTON – Kevin Doyle, an Irish step dancer from Barrington, is one of 13 artists receiving a $25,000 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu said Doyle and 12 other artists and jazz musicians are being honored for mastering their art and preserving the art forms’ cultural traditions. The winners share a history of starting young and developing their passions over a lifetime, she said.
Doyle, a Rhode Island native and retired RIPTA bus driver, learned Irish dance steps at age 8 from his mother, Margaret Taylor Doyle. His mother’s lilting – a way of vocalizing rhythmically using syllables rather than words – harkened back to her mother’s teachings in Ireland, Doyle said.
In the 1960s, Doyle studied at the Pat Fallon School of Irish Dance and at the McCorry School of Dance in Pawtucket, where he learned in the style of the old dance masters of Ireland. He has taught his daughter the art of traditional Irish dance, which she now teaches.
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and several lawmakers congratulated Doyle on receiving the national award.
“Kevin is an elite artist with a common touch,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees federal arts funding. “He makes Irish step dancing look easy, but he is someone who has poured many years of hard work, sweat, and soul into honing his craft. I think it is great that he is being recognized on a national stage and making Rhode Island and our Irish-American community proud.”
Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, added, “We're thrilled that Kevin Doyle has received this important recognition of his work upholding and advancing the art of traditional Irish step dancing.”
In 2013, Doyle was awarded RISCA’s Folk Arts Fellowship.