James Devine, tap dancer

JAMES DEVINE is the world's fastest dancer. With an unbelievable 38 taps per second, the Irishman danced his way into The Guinness Book of Records in 1998.

He grew up in County Clare, and it wasn't long before his talent was spotted by his mother - who had herself been a champion dancer. While she was using her typewriter one day, she noticed her six-year-old son repeating the rhythm of her typing with his feet.

"I was able to keep in time with my mother's typing quite easily," says Devine.

"She taught me some basic rhythms by tapping them out on the back of my hands, which I'd repeat." Remarkably, he was just 14 years old when he achieved the 'grand slam' - winning the Munster, all-Ireland, British, American and world dancing titles.

He went on to work with Michael Flatley on a global tour of Lord of the Dance, before moving to Australia. While there, he choreographed, directed and took the lead role in the world tour of Gael Force - the first large-scale Irish dance show to feature live tapping.

His talent is hard to ignore, but 38 taps in one second? "There's the possibility of hitting your tap shoe eight times in different spots in one move," says Devine. "My subconscious mind is so trained that it has become second nature to me."

Devine recently moved to Edinburgh, where he will perform the world premire of his show Tapeire next month, as part of the Festival Fringe. Tapeire, he says, is "a rhythmic and musical journey that displays the speed, fury and phenomenal precision of modern Irish tap."

• Tapeire is at Babybelly 1, Niddry Street South, Edinburgh (0870 745 3083), from August 3 to 27. Tickets cost 9-10 (previews 5)

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