First, a word about competitive Irish Step dancing. Competitive Irish dance is governed by a board in Ireland, An Coimisiún le Rinci Gaelacha, and is serious business amongst the participants.
The Fèis, roughly pronounced as fesh, plural Ffeisanna (Irish) or Fèisean (Scottish) is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival.
In Ancient Ireland communities placed great importance on local festivals, where Gaels could come together in song, dance, music, theatre and sport. The largest of these was the Aonach, the great festival at Tara, which was then the city of Ireland's Ardrí, or "High King". These feiseanna were a rich opportunity for storytellers to reach a large audience, and often warriors would recount their exploits in combat, clansmen would trace family genealogies, and bards and balladeers would lead the groups in legends, stories, and song.
In the modern Fèis there are 6 levels of competition at local Feisanna structured by age groups: Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Novice, Prizewinner, and then the champion levels of Preliminary Champion and Opens Champions. Each level has requirements of the number of 1st places that must be achieved for each dance (reel, light jig, single jig, slip jig, treble jig) in order to move up to the next level through the grades, the first 4 levels. Once those levels are mastered one moves into Preliminary Champs were a minimum of two 1st place wins must be achieved before one can move into the Opens level. The standard of competition at the Preliminaries and Opens is very high and the dancers are truly amazing to watch.
Feiseanna are held all over the world, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, all over Europe, South Africa, the USA and Canada. The local Fèis, that usually takes place at the same time as NTIF, is called the Texas State Championship Fèis and is run by the McTeggart Irish Dancers of North Texas. This event was born at the NTIF and for the first few years was an integral part of the festival. Its growth over the years forced it to relocate to larger facilities at the DFW Sheraton where it attracts competitors from many of the surrounding states as well as Texas.
In addition there is at least one major competition that dancers want to compete in - the Regional Oireachtas (the word "oireachtas" literally means "gathering" in English). The Southern Region Oireachtas took place the first week of December in Washington DC and dancers from Texas were there working to qualify to compete in the North American Nationals Competition, and the biggest of the big - the World's Irish Dancing Competition (Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne) to be held in Dublin, Ireland in April. Less than half will qualify for Nationals and only the top few dancers in each age competition will qualify for Worlds. In the Irish dancing sport, World's is their Olympics.
Worlds were held in Glasgow in 2007, Belfast in 2008, Philadelphia in 2009 and returned to Glasgow for the 40th Anniversary in 2010. The World Oireachtas (Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne) is typically held Easter Week.
In order to compete at a Fèis in North America, a dancer must be registered with An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha and its subsidiary the Irish Dance Teacher's Association of North America.
In Texas we are fortunate to have some of the best dance schools in the country, and naturally some of the best dance students. The local Fèis made it's start at NTIF many years ago, expanded rapidly as an event of its own and has now achieved a high level of national acclaim. At any given North Texas Irish Festival we have World's level competitors and World Medal Holders from around the state dancing for us.
The Emerald School of Irish Dance has joined with the highly acclaimed and award winning Inishfree School of Irish Dance. The Inishfree School has been one of the most prominent Irish Dance Schools in the state of Texas for over 15 years. Inishfree is a competitive Irish Dance School with locations throughout Texas, Mexico, New York, Massachusetts and Belfast and has produced multiple Regional, National and World Champions. It is directed by World Champion Neill Reagan, ADCRG, Patrick McCarthy, ADCRG, and Pierce Beach, TCRG.
Inishfree Dallas, originally directed by Emily Touzin, a native Dubliner, and her daughter, Leslie Touzin Middleton, TCRG, was first established in 1968 in Vermont. It moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in 1977 and has been teaching and promoting the art of Irish dance in North Texas ever since. The dancers have performed on television and in shows throughout the North Texas area, including the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center with the world famous Chieftains, the Bass Performance Hall with the Trinity Irish Dancers, with renowned fiddler, Eileen Ivers at the North Texas Irish Festival, and corporate events to name a few. We pride ourselves on giving Texas children a place to flourish within the competitive world of Irish Dance. Inishfree dancers have placed at the regional, national and world level, but the objective of the school is not just to produce champions, but to continue to pass on to its students of all ages, the traditions and joy of Irish Dance! Celebrating this joy, our dancers continue to regularly perform throughout North Texas, giving even our youngest children the chance to show off their skills.
Classes are open to children and adults - for fun or competition - in Dallas and Lewisville. Solo and team classes for beginner through adult. We accept new students all year long. 972-874-0360
Jackson Irish Dancers, founded in 1998, is a non-profit corporation that spreads knowledge, enjoyment and understanding of traditional Irish dance through instruction, performance, and social gathering. In other words, we started this group so we’d have more folks to dance with… so far, it’s working!
We offer classes in the Jackson, Mississippi metro area, and are available for performance bookings or to call your next céilí. Our performances feature traditional Irish set dancing, céilí dancing, and solo dancing, under the direction of Catherine Sherer Bishop, MFA, TCRG.
Visit www.jacksonirishdancers.org or call 601-291-3378 for information. See you on the dance floor!
The Maguire Academy of Irish Dance-Dallas is led by the previous Riverdance lead Darren Maguire. With classes ranging from 4-year-old beginners to adults, dancers can take classes for fun, compete in feis, or perform for crowds around the DFW Metroplex. Classes are held near White Rock Lake at 2325 Lakeland Dr. and at the Centre for Dance, 7517 Campbell Rd. #400. For more information on class times and details, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaguireAcademyDallas/ or www.maquireacademy.com
ADCRG instructor Darren Maquire and World-qualifier Andy McLane together have over 80 years of Irish dance experience. In 2006, Mr. Maquire opened his first Irish dance school in Tuscon, AZ after completing a 10-year stint with the Riverdance performance team. He now owns dance schools in Phoenix, AZ, Houston, TX and Edmond, OK.
Spurred by Riverdance and the spotlight it shone on Irish dance, Michael and Susan began taking Irish céilí and step dance lessons from the Emerald School of Irish Dance in 1997. They were hooked. Travel to Ireland in 2001 introduced Michael and Susan to Irish set dancing, which they study and practice locally and via dance workshops in North America and Ireland.
Susan is a certified céilí dance teacher, having obtained TMRF certification from An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha in 2007. Michael and Susan teach traditional céilí and set dancing throughout the Dallas & Fort Worth area including the North Texas School of Irish Music and the annual O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat. They also call the Celtic Céilí dances for the monthly céilís at Trinity Hall in Dallas and the Saturday evening NTIF céilí annually.
New Orleans Irish Set Dancers is a group born of a shared love of Irish Set Dancing. Taught by veteran set dancer Debbie Cornett, we meet for weekly classes and monthly ceilis. We also enjoy performing at regional festivals and events including Mississippi Celticfest, New Orleans Celtic Festival, and North Texas Irish Festival.
The group is affiliated with the New Basin Canal Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, an international organization dedicated to the promotion of the music, song, dance and language of Ireland. Find “New Orleans Irish Set Dancers” on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. All of our performances end with audience participation, so come and join the fun!
Under the instruction of sisters Kay LaGreca, TCRG, and Maura Anderson, TCRG, the Shandon-O'Regan Irish Dance Academy is a certified school of traditional Irish step and ceili dancing in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, The school is registered with An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (the Irish Dancing Commission) and the Irish Dance Teachers of North America Southern Region.
Shandon-O’Regan caters to all ages and levels of dancers in our classes in Richardson and McKinney. We aim to foster a supportive and caring environment that instills tradition and inspires champions.
Shandon-O'Regan Irish Dance Academy competes regularly at local feisanna and celebrates many successes over the years including regular recalls and qualifications for Worlds at the Southern Region Oireachtas and recalls and placings at the North American Irish Dance Championships, also known as Nationals.
Shandon-O'Regan celebrated its 18th anniversary in 2016 and continues the tradition to teach the love of Irish dance to students in the DFW area!
The Lone Star Ceili Band was born out of the Richardson Sessions at Cafe Brazil. It is a union of the members of two bands, Happensdance and the Irish band known as Jigsaw. More could be said about these musicians than could ever be written on this page.
The pioneering efforts of Ken and Peggy Fleming and Kevin Alewine have spearheaded most of what Dallas has seen of Irish music in the past two decades. They have played in several bands known to Irish music lovers and have helped to form many related events such as the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat and the Trinity Hall Sessions, thus fostering the interests of untold numbers of musicians, listeners, and dancers. This Irish powerhouse joined forces with Happensdance members, Mimi Rogers and Allison Hicks to bring the spirit of the Irish ceili to the contra dance floor.
Irish music has long been a staple for the bands that have played at the Dallas contra dances and never has it been played with such accuracy and ease and with such respect for the tradition as with the LSCBand. This band is splendid addition to our growing wealth of music.