From County Down to the World Stage: Lauren Clarke Dazzles in ‘A Taste of Ireland’

Australia’s stages are set to be graced with the vibrant and exhilarating production of ‘A Taste of Ireland,’ a show that has captivated audiences globally with its unique blend of traditional Irish dance, music, and storytelling. This theatrical spectacle, embarking on an extensive tour across Victoria and beyond, promises to deliver an unforgettable experience that showcases the richness of Irish culture, history, and artistry. As the cast prepares to bring this live, dynamic showcase to Australian audiences, we sat down with Lauren Clarke, a world-class Irish dancer with an impressive resume, to discuss her journey, preparation, and what fans can expect from this highly anticipated tour.


Lauren Clarke, hailing from County Down, Northern Ireland, embarked on her dance journey at the tender age of 4. Under the guidance of her dance teacher Maeve Rankin, Lauren transformed from a shy child into a confident, world-class competitor, clinching prestigious titles and touring globally with Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord of the Dance.’ Her achievements in competitive Irish Dancing laid a solid foundation for her role in ‘A Taste of Ireland,’ where she brings a wealth of experience and a deep passion for Irish culture to the stage.

‘Having started Irish Dancing at such a young age and succeeded as well as I did in competition, I think it prepared me well for ‘A Taste of Ireland,” Lauren reflects. Her journey from a young competitor to a professional show dancer taught her independence, resilience, and the importance of putting her heart and soul into every performance.

Lauren, having started your dance journey at the tender age of 4 with Scoil Rince Realta in Newtownards, and achieving remarkable success in competitive Irish dancing, how do you think your early experiences and achievements in dance have shaped your approach to performing in ‘A Taste of Ireland’?

As a child, I lacked a lot of self confidence, and as I practiced relentlessly I got better over the years, and the more I grew and developed as a dancer. I have a lot of people and dance companies to thank for that.  I had a lot of support from my dance teacher Maeve Rankin, who definitely helped me to overcome nerves and anxiety on stage. She was the person who taught me that, ‘if I want to achieve a goal I have to put my heart and soul in to it, with everything I do, every single day.‘ This is how I succeeded at a world class level, in competitive Irish Dancing.  When I left school at 18 years old, I joined Michael Flately’s Lord of the Dance. I toured all around the globe with this show for almost 6 years. Having to leave the nest at such a young age and touring with professional dancers who were a lot more experienced, taught me independence. I fed off this environment well and felt like I developed so much as a professional show dancer. Before I joined this show, I idolised these pro dancers. When I got the chance to work alongside them, it motivated me to work harder and work my way up to dancing the lead role in Lord of the Dance. A Taste of Ireland is an intricate show to learn, and I think, if I didn’t start Irish Dancing at such a young age and succeeded as well as I did in competition, I would struggle to fit in well with this show. Although, having performed in A Taste of Ireland and working alongside Brent in previous years, he has helped me realise what it takes to be good enough for this world class show.

When asked about her preparation for the demanding lifestyle of touring, Lauren highlights the importance of physical and mental preparation. As a personal trainer, she maintains a rigorous fitness regime tailored to meet the needs of a dancer, ensuring she is physically and mentally ready for the challenges of performing night after night. ‘Touring life is physically and mentally demanding. Therefore, a lot of preparation for upcoming tours takes place in the gym and dance studio,’ Lauren explains.

With prestigious titles such as the Ulster and Irish National Championships under your belt, and having placed 3rd at the All Irelands and ranking in the top 10 at the World Championships in 2017 and 2018, how do you prepare mentally and physically for the demands of touring and performing at such a high level?

Achieving these placings took many years of hard work and dedication. There is no “off season” in competitive Irish Dancing. This meant that there was always something to work towards, always a new goal to reach. But I couldn’t reach these placements without a game plan. Having good time management was a skill of mine, as I achieved most of these high placements during the year of my GCSE/A Level exams. Juggling school, 3-4 dance classes per week, and going away almost every weekend for competitions was difficult. I used my time wisely and prioritised my school work and dancing accordingly. Touring life is physically and mentally demanding. Therefore, a lot of preparation for upcoming tours takes place in the gym and dance studio. I’m a personal trainer, so I workout in the gym 5-6 times a week doing strict programmes that suit me, specifically as a dancer. I have a small dance room at home and practice there each week. I also dance for an entertainment company, where I would be seen dancing in local bars, weddings, and corporate events mainly on the weekends, which all help me get prepared for tours. Mentally, tours can be tough. The lifestyle can be pretty chaotic at times and throwing in a lack of sleep due to late night shows and early morning or long travel days can really take its toll. So, ensuring I eat well before and during tours is key for energy, as well as staying hydrated throughout the day helps with recovery and prevent injuries when on tour.

Lauren’s passion for Irish dance was ignited at age 9 after attending her first professional show in Belfast, a memory that has profoundly influenced her career path. This early exposure to the magic of Irish dance set her on a journey that has led to lead roles in ‘Lord of the Dance’ and now, ‘A Taste of Ireland.’ Her versatility as a dancer, honed through portraying varied characters in ‘Lord of the Dance,’ enriches her performance in ‘A Taste of Ireland,’ where she navigates a range of emotions and stories through dance.

Your passion for Irish dance was ignited at age 9 after attending your first professional show in Belfast. Can you share how that experience influenced your career path, especially now as you embark on the Australian tour with ‘A Taste of Ireland’?

When I was 9, my dad took me to see Lord of the Dance in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. I had already been dancing for about 5 years at this point. It is a memory that will always stick out in my head as a young dancer. I loved absolutely everything about seeing this show. The music, the lights, the storyline and the atmosphere was electric in the audience! On the drive home I would not stop singing the same line over and over again, “Dance dance wherever you may be. For I am the Lord of the Dance said he...”. I think my parents knew before I did, that this was a dream of mine. Years later, I still thought about this memory of seeing the show. And one day, I came to my parents to let them know my intentions to embark on this journey to become a professional dancer. Now, 15 years later I have achieved so much in the professional Irish Dancing industry, and joining A Taste of Ireland is another one I get to tick off my bucket list! Seeing around Australia and New Zealand is a bonus too!

Throughout your career, you’ve portrayed lead roles in Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord of the Dance’, such as The Little Spirit, Saoirse, and Morrighan. How do these experiences contribute to your role in ‘A Taste of Ireland’, and what unique aspects do you bring to the show from these previous roles?

I have had the privilege of performing 3 lead roles in Lord of the Dance. This is a very rare thing to happen to one dancer, so I am very grateful that Michael and the Lord of the Dance team trusted me to perform my take on these 3 very different roles, and for the opportunities that came with it. If you haven’t seen Lord of the Dance, each role has its own unique characteristics. The Little Spirit is very loving and only wants to make right in the world, she gets scared quite easily but is also very protective. Saoirse, this is the good girl lead role in the show. She is the equivalent to a princess in the Lord of the Dance’s eyes, she floats around like a fairy but has a confident and sassy side too. And Morrighan, she is the bad girl in the show. She is seductive, sexy and very fiery. Having performed these 3 roles for a few years, it has made me into a more versatile dancer. In a Taste of Ireland, the lead role has to be able to partel many characteristics throughout the story, from being a strong leader in the viking era, to struggling with poverty. My experience in playing so many different characters  should help a lot when performing in a Taste of Ireland. I’m excited to get to portray so many scenes and emotions throughout the whole show!

Australian audiences can expect a ’emotional rollercoaster’ from ‘A Taste of Ireland,’ as the show weaves through Ireland’s tumultuous history to its modern-day triumphs. ‘The show is very heavy in Irish dancing with energetic traditional Irish music and instruments, as well as Irish songs. A Taste of Ireland is completely live so anything can happen!’ Lauren excitedly shares.

As you prepare to take the stage across Australia with ‘A Taste of Ireland’, what can Australian audiences expect from this production in terms of performance, storytelling, and the overall experience?

They should expect to go through an emotional rollercoaster throughout this show. A Taste of Ireland is unique. It tells the story of Ireland’s history as a nation and goes through all the tumultuous times in Ireland and finishes off in modern day Ireland. It highlights some of Irealnd’s greatest history. There are parts in the show that portray darker emotions, like the Irish Famine and the Easter Rising and even the 1959 Hurling World Cup! The show has projectors that help to envision the storyline and history better for the audience and to understand what part of the history we are portraying at any time. The show is very heavy in Irish dancing with energetic traditional Irish music and instruments, as well as Irish songs. A Taste of Ireland is completely live so anything can happen! I am extremely excited to perform to an Australian audience for the first time!

As ‘A Taste of Ireland’ prepares to take Australia by storm, audiences are invited to experience the heart and soul of Irish culture through the artistry of Lauren Clarke and the talented cast. This production not only celebrates the historical journey of Ireland but also showcases the vibrant, living tradition of Irish dance and music in a modern spectacle that promises to be ‘Celtic―for this decade.’

To see Lauren in the Australian tour of A Tate Of Ireland on it’s national tour click HERE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *