OVER the past few months I have got to know Ebonay Lawson, an amazingly talented Irish dancer from Downpatrick, who I have been fortunate to have photographed on a few occasions over the summer.
Born in Glasgow in 2003, Ebonay moved to Downpatrick when she was three and ever since she’s been dancing with quite a bit of success tinged with a few anxious moments along the way.
In 2017 she was delighted to win third place at the European championships in Torrevieja, Spain. This was just reward for all her hard work and dedication and she was eager to add to that success.
However, the following year during her performance at the All-Scotland Championships she broke her foot, somehow managing to complete her slip jig despite being in considerable pain. Understandably, she was devastated having suffered such a severe injury.
The injury required an operation with doctors telling her that her dancing career was over. During the five months she spent in plaster Ebonay looked at other ways of keeping involved in Irish dancing, while all the time wondering if she would dance again.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to dance again but wanted to be a part of dancing, so I set up my own business, Costumes by Ebonay, which sells to dancers across the world and trained as a make-up artist. I now offer a make-up service for weddings, dancers and special occasions as Makeupbyebonay,” said Ebonay.
MISSION TO SUCCEED
After weeks of physio and eight months after the accident in Scotland, Ebonay took her first tentative steps on stage to perform again.
“Overcoming my fear was harder than I thought and it took me a while to regain my confidence. Over time I grew more confident and as I trained harder I knew I could dance competitively again,” said the 17-year-old.
She did dance again, and was delighted to have recalled at the Irish nationals in Dublin in June last year. She also recalled at the the Great Britain championships in August 2019 and the Ulsters in November. These successes have brought back the appetite for dancing, and she is on a mission to succeed.
However if she thought her battles were over she was wrong – there was more on the horizon!
As if fighting back from injury wasn’t hard enough, Ebonay began suffering extreme pain in her joints and was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and with it another warning from the medics that her dancing career was in jeopardy. Thankfully with the help of medication and physio-therapy her condition is such that the pain is treatable and she now aims to make the most of the time she has left to dance. Currently she practices every day, often for up to three hours. Her dedication is something to admire.
As I mentioned earlier I met Ebonay and her mum Tracy for a few photoshoots having launched Emerald Dance Photography earlier this year, and since then have taken an active interest in her career. Despite the knocks she has her sights set firmly on dancing success and is well prepared for the days when her dancing career comes to an end, however far down the road that is. When that day does come she has dreams of qualifying as a dance tutor. She will also pursue her costume designing as her future career. She knows where she’s going!
Ebonay’s biggest fan is her mum Tracy who has supported her every step of the way. Her dance teachers also inspire her and she is grateful for the support of her Scoil Rince an Chroí tutors Chris, Bríd and Bridget.
“The support of my family and dance teachers mean the world to me. They give me a purpose to succeed and while I am doing the best for myself, I am also doing my best for them. I can’t thank all of them enough for being there for me,” says Ebonay.
Recently Ebonay was named Is Breá Liom Damhsa U-17 champion, an online dance competition hosted to keep dancers competing while also keeping them safe due to the pandemic. This was a deserved reward for her long hours in the dance studio while confirming that she is performing close to her best.
Having had her fair share of knocks already Ebonay has proved that she can win again and I am fairly certain there are a few big successes yet to come as she works towards her dreams.
Good luck Ebonay!!
New dress (black and red) supplied by Conor O’Sullivan Designs, Birmingham; Dance Shoe Supplier, Feis Fayre; Wig from Paula’s Wigs and Bling, Glasgow. Dance School, Scoil Rince an Chroí (Co. Down).