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A B O U T   S H A N I

"Irish Hardshoes" Photo by Shani DuFrain

As the daughter of a professional jazz pianist, music and rhythm have been an integral part of Shani's life from day one. Nevertheless, it was at her first Irish dance class with the Boyle School of Irish Dance at the age of 8 that she fell in love with the art form and the combination of music and movement.

As a competitor, Shani advanced through the grades in feiseanna and then competed in several Southern Region Championships, placing in the top 10 in 2010. She then placed in the top 50 in North American National Championships the following summer, and participated in the All Ireland and World Irish Dancing Championships before retiring from competition.

As a performer, she danced on two different occasions on Carnival cruise ships with Isle Inn Tours in the Caribbean and Mexico, and in many festivals, shows, weddings, and private parties up and down the east coast of the US. After auditioning and receiving a call-back from Riverdance, she studied for, and passed, the vigorous "Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha(TCRG)" exam attaining her Irish Dance teacher certification in 2012.

In 2015, Shani sang on the title track of Mark Christopher Brandt's album, Joie de Vivre. Her hand claps, and footwork and steps, may be heard as percussion on several tracks from the same album, which was featured in Irish Dance Magazine. Most recently, she sang on the album Joy written by Mark Christopher Brandt and inspired by the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

After a brief hiatus from teaching Irish dance, Shani started Phoenix Irish Dance Academy in 2016 with Rachel Wolf. She resigned from PIDA in September of 2021 in order to have more time to spend the formative years with her five young children, and she now teaches Irish dance on a very small scale through her school: The Virginia Academy of Irish Dance.

Shani is a certified group fitness instructor, and her other areas of study include pre- and postnatal fitness, nutrition, aerobic conditioning, strength training, kinesiology, functional training, and adult health and development. She continues to study and apply these topics daily in order to enrich herself and her current and future dancers. Shani welcomed her fifth child in April of 2022, and she spends her spare time with her husband Blaise, their four other young children, and their Australian Shepherd.

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About Shani
Favorite Quotes


"Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire."                                                       - St. Catherine of Siena

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself."                       - Mikhail Baryshnikov

"Your heart is free; have the courage to follow it."                                                                               - Braveheart

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