McConnell School of Dance General Division
McConnell School of Dance
2014 – 2015 Student Handbook
Céad míle fáilte
“One Hundred Thousand Welcomes”
Table of Contents
Rules of Conduct………………………….……………….3
Irish Dance Supplies & Products………….………..3
School Clothing Order…………………………………..3
Our Programs………………………………….…….. 4 - 6
Class Schedule / Lesson Fees………………………..7
Payments, Receipts, Withdrawals…….………… 8
Missed Lesson & Injury Policy…………….…..……9
Website & Facebook……………………….…..………10
Performance Information ……………………..11,12
68 Years in Canada!
Our Student Handbook is designed to assist dancers and
parents through the exciting season ahead.
Irish Dance Shoes………………………………….15, 16
Poodle Socks & Tights………………………………..18
The Student Handbook is a great way to familiarize
dancers and parents with McConnell School of Dance.
The Handbook provides an introduction to the sometimes
complicated world of Irish Dance and will help guide you
through your first year.
Please review the Student Handbook as our policies
change from year to year with our school’s continued
growth and development.
St. Patrick’s Fest………………………………………….19
Year End Recital…..……………………………………..20
MSDSA – Students Association..…….……………22
Frequently Asked Questions…………….………….24
Irish Dance Information………………………….25,26
Dates to Remember…………………………………….27
McConnell School of Dance was founded in Ballymena, Northern Ireland over 80 years ago. The School was
established in Manitoba, Canada in 1947 by the late Sam & Sarah McConnell.
During their 68 year history in Canada, the McConnell Dancers have performed at the Olympic Games, the
Commonwealth Games, and across Canada and the United States. Our dancers have participated in 3 C.I.O.F.F.
International Folk Dance Festivals (Peru 2007, Costa Rica, 2009, and Bulgaria, 2011). In July 2012 McConnell dancers
performed at the American Celtic Irish Dance Festival in Walt Disney World, Florida. In August 2013 40 members of
McConnell School of Dance performed Trasna na dTonnta at the Tailteann Nua Festival in Limerick, Ireland.
McConnell dancers have performed with well-known groups such as "The Irish Rovers", "Tommy Makem" and "The
McConnell School of Dance is recognized world-wide for their unique performance-style Irish Dancing. Our
philosophy is to provide dancers with an encouraging, positive learning environment where they can achieve their
individual goals and learn the value of working as part of a team.
Although our teaching methods are based on tradition, we also incorporate modern teaching techniques which
accelerate the learning process. Class sizes are limited to achieve individual focus on our students and classes do
not exceed an 8 -1 student to teacher ratio.
McConnell School of Dance is well into its 3rd generation, under the direction of Shayleen McConnell Finucan. With
a dedicated and caring team of instructors and assistants, the school continues to thrive, offering classes in
Winnipeg, Brandon, and Winnipeg Beach, MB.
McConnell School of Dance is located in Autumnwood Plaza (32 Barberry Road)
Our studio features 3 dance studios, a waiting room for parents, separate girls and boys change rooms, a well- stocked Irish
dance supply store, and free parking.
Viewing window in main studio.
Drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Please be advised items may contain peanuts and or tree nuts.
All classes 1.5 hrs. and longer will receive a 5 minute break during their lesson. Snacks and refreshments are
available for purchase at our studio store. Dancers are welcome to bring snacks from home.
Our studio is located close to major shopping centers and parents may leave the studio once children have begun
their lesson. Please to arrive on time for pick-up. Additional charges will apply for late pick-ups.
Group or Party Bookings
Schedule one of our Instructors to teach a 1 hour workshop for a Birthday Party
or book our studio & instructor.
1 Hour Irish Dance Workshop - $65
1 Hour Irish Dance Workshop & Studio - $85
Studio Rental Hours
5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Saturday 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM
10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Rental of the facility includes two dance studios, waiting room lounge,
private change rooms, and access to concession.
Studio Rental Rates
1 Hour - $25
Half Day (4 hours) - $75
Full Day (8 hours) - $125
Studio Rules of Conduct
Please try to arrive on time. If you are late, please knock on the studio door, before entry. Dancers who arrive late
miss valuable warm up time and are at risk for injury.
Dancers are to remain in the rehearsal studio unless excused by the class instructor.
Parents, friends, and family members are not allowed in the rehearsal studio, unless during scheduled Parent’s
Dancers are to be dressed in appropriate dance attire as outlined in our Dress Code
Only dance shoes, dance bags, purses / wallets, and water bottles may be brought into the studio (no food or
outerwear). Please bring all necessary items in to class with you at the beginning of class.
No cellular phones, video games, laptops, cameras, video cameras, IPods, or books allowed in rehearsal studio.
Outerwear and other items not needed in class must be hung on the coat rack outside the studio (for security
reasons, do not leave valuables unattended in the dressing room or studios)
Respectful behaviour and a positive attitude toward the class instructors and fellow dancers must be demonstrated
by dancers and their parents at all times.
Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. Parents are asked to email [email protected]
or call or text the studio (204) 793-8557 to inform us of their child’s absence from class
Instructors are not available for discussion with parents before, during, or after classes. Please contact McConnell
School of Dance via e-mail or telephone if you have questions or concerns.
McConnell Irish Dance Products
McConnell School of Dance is an authorized dealer for Antonio Pacelli, Corrs, and Rutherford Irish Dance Products.
Irish dance shoes and products are imported from the U.K. and available for sale at our studio.
Our product pricing includes postage, import duty, and GST.
Orders are sent in at the end of each month and product generally takes 2 – 3 weeks to arrive
McConnell School Clothing
Orders are placed in October & June each season.
We offer a wide range of school clothing items appropriate for dancers and parents.
Order forms are available on the website at the studio.
Special orders are available at any time during the year. Additional fees will apply.
Students who wish to enjoy the basics of
Irish dance should consider our General
Division. This program is suitable for
dancers from beginner to advanced.
General Division is ideal for students new
to Irish dance, and dancers who are
involved in other activities.
Students interested in competitive Irish
dance have the option to enter Open
Platform Irish Dance competitions in
McConnell School of Dance’s Competitive
Division. Dancers in our Competitive
Division may compete in both solo & group
competitions which take place throughout
the U.S & Worldwide. Competitions are
held from October to August and dancers
may compete in as many competitions as
they choose. In April, our competitive
dancers participate in the Rince Nua Feile in
Minneapolis, MN and all competitive
dancers are encouraged to attend.
Students who love to perform and are
interested in progressing to higher levels in
Irish Dance may consider a more intensive
method of study in our Performance
Division. Performance Division is open to
students from 5 years of age & up,
The General Division season extends from
September – May (9 months) with optional
summer classes for in June and July.
General Division dancers learn both
traditional and modern styles of Irish
dance. General dancers have the option to
take one class per week or attend multiple
lessons. Dancers who take more than one
class per week generally progress at a
much faster rate.
General Division Students have the option
to perform at our St. Patrick’s Fest, Year
End Recital, and at Folklorama, providing
they have the costume and shoes required
for their current level.
Competitive Division students require a
McConnell School Class costume & dancers
should also enroll in General or
Performance Division. Solo dresses are
optional for more advanced competitive
dancers. Competitive practices are held on
Saturday afternoons. The Competitive
season extends Sept – April with optional
Dancers are required to attend multiple
classes per week, attend monthly
workshops, participate in group
fundraising, and purchase additional
costumes for performances.
The Performance Division Season extends
from Sept – July (11 months). Performance
Division applicants must have completed
one full season with our school.
Performance Division dancers perform at
over 60 local shows throughout the season,
including St. Patrick’s, Year End Recital, and
Folklorama. Performance dancers may also
be invited to participate in International
General Division, Competitive Division or Performance Division?
General Division is ideal for dancers who enjoy Irish dance and also want to keep involved in other activities.
General Division performs at St. Patrick’s
Recital (May), and Folklorama (August). Performance is optional for all.
General Division dancers who perform
to have 1 class costume for their current level.
General Division dancers are not required to fundraise, it is optional for group or individual opportunities.
General Division dancers are not required to fulfill volunteer hours, unless they fundraise through MSDSA.
Competitive Division is intended for dancers interested in competitive Irish dance.
McConnell School of Dance competes in Open Platform Competitions open to all dancers from all schools.
Travel is necessary for dancers wishing to compete. The number of competitions dancers participate in is decided by the
dancer. Some may only compete at one feis per year others may attend feis every weekend or enter competitions at the
National and International level. Open Platform feisanna take place every month throughout North America and dancers may
travel to participate in any Open Platform competitions. In April every year, McConnell dancers in Competitive Division travel
to Minneapolis to compete in the Rince Nua Feile, joined by instructors and chaperones for younger dancers, whose parents
are unable to attend.
Dancers should enrol in General or Performance Division, in conjunction with competitive Saturday practices as the technique
and training from regular classes is necessary to excel in competitive dance. There are no performances in competitive
division, dancers practice only for competition.
Performance Division demands a great deal from our dancers and their family members. Dancers must be dedicated and Performance
should be their primary focus (aside from school and work). The benefits of Performance are accelerated learning, higher achievements
in dance, and opportunities to perform with a world class Irish dance troupe.
Performance Division dancers perform at over 60 shows per season in addition to St. Patricks’ Fest’, Recital, and Folklorama.
Performance Division dancers are required to attend 2 lessons per week in addition to monthly workshops.
Performance Division dancers are required to fundraise for individual and group benefits.
Performance Division dancers are required to volunteer at several events throughout the season, including St. Patrick’s Fest’,
Recital, and Folklorama.
If a dancer or parent is uncertain whether they can dedicate the time and funds necessary for Performance or Competitive Irish
Dance, we recommend you enrol in General Division.
General Division Programs
45 min class for dancers ages 3 – 4
This level may be appropriate for students 2 1/2 if they are capable of participating in the class without an accompanying parent.
Students learn basic foot work and positions for Irish dance and the Beginner Reel. Warm -up, stretching, and technique is included in the program.
Students also learn an Irish song or nursery rhymes.
1 Hour Class Schedule
Preschool & Beginner
1 hour class for dancers ages 5 - 6
Beginner students learn the basics of soft-shoe Irish dancing with Beginner Reel and begin the Light Jig.
Warm up, stretching and technique is included in the lesson. Focus is on developing technique and progressing
towards hard shoe work.
Soft Shoe Routine
Ceili / Song
1 ½ hour class for dancers ages 7 - 8
Novice Level students continue soft-shoe with a reel, slip jig or hop jig and the complete Light Jig (5 steps). Our Novice dancers also learn their first Ceili
dance (group dance with figures). Novice dancers begin hard shoe training. Warm up and technique is included in the class with added focus on the
more difficult moves (such as leaps, jumps, and cross keys). Dancers with no previous training may enroll in our Novice Level, however a few private
lessons may be recommended in order for a dancer to catch up with the basic technique for Irish Dance.
1.5 Hour Class Schedule
Novice & Preliminary
1 ½ hour class recommended for dancers ages 9 -11
This class is best suited for dancers with training in soft-shoe / hard-shoe Irish dancing or dancers
with previous training in other styles. Preliminary students’ learn more complex soft-shoe styles and
further their hard-shoe technique with 45 minutes of training each class. Students learn dances such as
the Beginner Hornpipe, Treble Jig, and Treble Reel. Dancers also learn a Ceili or group dance to develop
discipline, precision, and performance skills. Warm up and hard shoe technique training is included in the
lesson. Dancers with no previous training may enroll in our Preliminary Level, however private lessons
may be recommended in order for a dancer to catch up with the basic technique for Irish Dance.
Soft Shoe Technique
Soft Shoe Routine
Hard Shoe Routine
2 hour class for dancers ages 12 & older
This class is best suited for dancers who are well established in Irish soft-shoe and hard-shoe or who have extensive experience in other similar styles of
dance. Intermediate Level students focus on developing style and technique required for more advanced levels of Irish dancing. Warm up and
technique is included, and students also learn a Ceili or group dance to continue to develop their precision and performance skills.
2 hour class for dancers 14 & over
This level is best suited for dancers 14 and over with a minimum of 5 years Irish dance training.
Dancers should be well established in Irish soft and hard-shoe. Students focus on developing style
and technique required for more advanced levels of Irish dancing. Warm up and technique is included,
and dancers also learn a Ceili or group dance to continue to develop their precision and performance
2 Hour Class Schedule
Intermediate +14 Advanced Adult
Soft Shoe Routine
Hard Shoe Routine
We recommend students transferring from other schools or other styles of dance
schedule a few private lessons in order to learn our basic Irish technique, style, and steps.
Private lessons are available during the summer months in order to prepare dancers for fall registration.
Adult Program Options
1 ½ hour class recommended for adults new to Irish dance
Students learn the basics of soft-shoe Irish dancing. Warm up and technique is included in the class with added focus on stretching and
improving flexibility and strength in order to prepare for the rigours of Irish dance. Hard shoe technique is also offered in this class.
Adult Intermediate – Advanced
1 ½ hour class with combined Intermediate & Advanced
For dancers who’ve progressed through our Adult Intro level. This class is also appropriate for dancers with previous experience in other
styles of dance, who have completed 6 – 8 private lessons. Style and technique will be the focus of this class, with emphasis placed on
hard shoe work.
Adult Level Placement
Basic Irish hard shoe technique is required for our Adult Intermediate Class.
6 – 8 Private lessons are recommended for previously trained dancers returning as Adult students who wish to enrol in our
Adult Intermediate or Advanced classes.
6 – 8 Private lessons are necessary for adults transferring from other dance disciplines who wish to enrol in our Adult
Intermediate or Advanced classes as dancers must have knowledge of Irish dance basics.
Private and Semi Private Lessons
1 hour classes
Private and Semi Private Classes are intended for accelerated learning. Classes include warm up & technique.
Private and Semi Private Classes are structured to the dancer’s individual l needs and requirements. New dances
may be learned or students may choose to focus on soft shoe or hard shoe technique.
Students who wish to progress at a more rapid pace
New students transferring from other dance disciplines
Semi private lessons are ideal for 2 – 4 students or family
members who wish to schedule group classes.
Semi Private Lesson Rates
1 Semi Private lesson 1 hr. $ 25 per person
(2 student minimum)
6 – 8 Semi Private lessons 1 hr. $20 per person
(2 student minimum)
Private & Semi Private
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Saturday 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM
10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
*additional scheduling options may be
available, please contact us for more
Private Lesson Rates
30 min Private Lesson
1 Private lesson
6 – 8 Private lessons
30 min $ 25
1 hr. $ 40
1 hr. $ 30 per class
Winnipeg Class Schedule
September to May
Mon 5:30 – 6:20
Mon 5:30 – 6:40
Wed 5:30 – 6:15
Wed 5:30 – 6:30
Sat 10:00 – 10:45
Sat 10:00 – 11:00
9 - 11
Mon 5:30 – 7:10
Mon 5:30 – 7:10
Wed 5:30 – 7:00
Wed 5:30 – 7:00
Sat 10:00 – 11:30
Sat 10:00 – 11:30
12 & up
14 & up
18 & up
Mon 6:45 – 9:00
Mon 6:45 – 9:00
Mon 7:10 – 8:50
Wed 6:30 – 8:30
Wed 6:30 – 8:30
Wed 7:00 – 8:30
Adult Int – Adv
18 & up
Mon 7:10 – 9:25
Wed 7:00 – 9:00
September to May
Beg - Novice
6 - 10
11 - 14
Sat 11:30 – 1:00
Sat 12:30 – 2:30
15 & up
2:00 – 4:00
September to Aug
5 & up
Tues 5:30 – 7:30
Thurs 5:30 – 7:30
Tues 5:30 – 8:30
Tues 6:30 – 9:30
Thurs 5:30 – 8:30
Thurs 6:30 – 9:30
Tues 6:30 – 9:30
Tues 6:30 – 9:30
Thurs 6:30 – 9:30
Thurs 6:30 – 9:30
Schedule is subject to change at the discretion of McConnell School of Dance.
There will be a minimum of five students in a class. Levels that do not meet the minimum student requirement will
be combined with other classes at the discretion of McConnell School of Dance, or you will be offered the option for
semi-private or private rates.
*Discounted Rate for dancers with 2
or more members of the same
*Discounted Rate for Full Season
*Discounted Rate applied with
increased class hours.
Accepted Payment Methods
Cash – Full Season Payments Only
Credit Card (Visa, Master Card, AMEX)
Lesson Payment Options
Monthly – 9 Payments September through May on the 1st of each month
Term – 3 Payments September, December, March on the 1st of each month
1 Full Season Payment – Due with registration.
*Discounted Rate for full season payments.
*Discounted Rate for family (2 or more members in the same household)
Registration & Lesson Payment must accompany registration form.
Fees are based on an average of four classes per month which includes a Christmas holiday and Spring Break.
Classes are cancelled on all statutory holidays, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick’s Fundraisers, and the day of Recital.
To change a payment method, notification must be in writing (or e-mail) and a minimum of 7 business days before
the payment due date.
$25 NSF and Declined Credit Card Fee
No student will be admitted into class with any unpaid balance.
Late Payment Fee
There will be a 10% late fine added to all invoices past 30 days, including lessons, costumes, and product sales.
N.S.F. Cheques and Declined Credit Card Transactions
A $25.00 charge will be applied to any N.S.F. cheques and declined monthly / term credit card transactions. Accounts
with outstanding N.S.F. payments will be notified by McConnell School of Dance by phone or e-mail. Payment will be
expected within 7 business days of notification.
Receipts for payment of lessons are sent via e-mail at the end of the month or every term, depending on payment
schedule. If you do not have an email address, please inform us so we may make arrangements to provide printed
copies of your monthly receipts
Please keep your receipts if you require them as record for tax purposes.
End of Year Summary Receipts – $10 charge for customers who request an end or year payment summary.
As our class sizes are limited and routines planned early, we expect dancers to complete the season they have registered
for. For extenuating circumstances, early withdrawals may be accepted and payments refunded at the discretion of
McConnell School of Dance.
Notification for withdrawal must be done in writing (or e-mail) and submitted to McConnell School of Dance.
The date of written notification (not the date of absence) is considered the departure date.
$30 Withdrawal fee will apply to all students who do not complete the season.
Fees will not be returned for a partial month, incomplete term, or full season payment.
Pupils are responsible for all outstanding monetary balances (i.e.: costume orders, product orders, tuition, etc. )
Missed Lesson Policy
McConnell School of Dance does not reimburse for lessons missed during the month.
Due to limitations of our class sizes, students cannot make up missed lessons as a result of illness, injury, or scheduling
difficulties. Different routines are taught in each class, so attending another scheduled class other than an announced
make-up lesson is not possible.
Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class. Parents are asked to call or email [email protected] or call
the studio 204-793-8557 to inform us of their child’s absence from class
As most statutory holidays fall on a Monday, we have extended the duration of Monday classes throughout the season to
make up for the time lost due to the holidays. Therefore we will not schedule any make up classes this season for statutory
Beginners – 5 min added
Novice, Preliminary – 10 min added
Intermediate, Open 14, Advanced – 15 min added
We are a performance Irish dance school and all instructors are
members of our Performance Division. There are rare occasions when
classes are cancelled due to the Director and Instructor’s commitment
to a performance. At least 7 days’ notice will be given in these
circumstances and students will be offered a make-up lesson during
one of our regularly scheduled classes.
Irish dance is a highly demanding physical activity. Minor injuries (stiffness, aching muscles, minor bruising, and blisters)
can be common for some. Dancers who have long lasting issues or isolated pain as a result of Irish dance are encouraged to
seek treatment from a physician immediately.
Dancers who are injured are expected to attend class so they do not fall behind with their routines.
There are no refunds offered for dancers who miss lessons or withdrawal due to injury.
Students with an illness or injury which will affect their abilities in class MUST fill out an INJURY FORM at the studio.
Students who have difficulty wearing their shoes due to injury, blister, etc. should indicate so on an INJURY FORM
Instructors reserve the right to limit dancer’s activities in class due to their injury or as part of the recovery process.
Depending on the type of injury and the severity, some dancers may experience delays or setbacks
with their progress in Irish dance. This is normal and should be expected from dancers recovering from an injury.
Instructors and assistants will work with the student as best they can in class, however in some cases dancers may be
asked to take private lessons or switch levels.
Instructors are not available for discussions with dancers or parents during or after lesson as their time must be dedicated
to teaching. If you have questions or concerns, please contact (204) 793-8557 or e-mail [email protected]
All communication, newsletters, and school notices, are sent through email. Please provide a current email address on
your registration form to receive school information throughout the dance year and notify us immediately should you have
a change of e-mail. If you do not have access to e-mail please contact us to arrange another method of communication.
Many of the answers you may have can be found in the Student Handbook.
Our website is updated regularly with news and school events.
Please visit the member’s area of the website often and check e-mail in order to keep yourself informed.
If you are uncertain of school policies, order deadlines, and events, please refer to the website and Student
Handbook for clarification.
All McConnell School of Dance students and parents will have access to the members section of our website.
Member name and password (indicated on your registration form) will be required to access the member’s page.
Please contact us immediately if you do not have a member login to the website.
Facebook – Our Facebook page & groups are updated regularly and are a great way to keep informed about the school,
follow our events & photos.
Join our Facebook groups - McConnell School of Dance & McConnell School of Dance Performance Division
Like our Facebook page! McConnell Irish Dancers https://www.facebook.com/pages/McConnell-Irish-Dancers/271488322876404
Twitter - @McConnellDance
Instagram - @mcconnelldance
Dancers or parents on Social Networks & Facebook should remain respectful to fellow students, the school, and it’s
instructors at all times. Negative or hurtful comments will not be tolerated and dancers will be asked to leave the school
should we become aware of inappropriate behaviour on-line.
Posting Photos and Videos
Photos of McConnell Dancers should be approved by the school before posting on the internet. Please be selective with
your photos and considerate of others in the photograph who may not wish to have their photo on line.
Videos of McConnell dances remain the intellectual property of McConnell School of Dance and should not be reproduced
or posted on the internet. In special circumstances, short video clips (25 second maximum) may be posted, with
Tights, leotards, body-suits, dance pants, and
dance skirts are acceptable
Shorts are allowed as long as they are made
from a stretchable fabric
Plain t-shirts are permissible as long as they
allow for movement. Overly large
sweatshirts may not be worn in class
Hair should be tied back securely jewelry
should be limited
Shorts made with stretchable fabric are
Pants are allowed as long as they are loose
Plain t-shirts which allow for movement and
are not overly large are preferred
Performing at St. Patrick's Fest' & Recital
As part of your registration for Irish Dance lessons in our General Division, McConnell School of Dance provides the
opportunity for dancers in our school to perform at St. Patrick's Fest' & our year end recital.
Dancers who do not wish to perform should inform the school on their registration form.
St. Patrick’s Fest’ – Saturday, March 7th, 2015
Dress Rehearsal – Thursday, May 21st, 2015
Annual Recital – Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 Matinee & Evening show *dancers are required to attend both
Folklorama – Aug 1st – 15th, 2015 *United Kingdom Pavilion week will be finalized in December 2014.
Dancers are required to have a well-fitting costume for their current level in order to perform.
Students, who do not know their dances, frequently miss classes, or who fall behind on their steps may not perform
all routines with their current level.
Dancers who are behind their current level should consider private lessons to assist them in catching up with their
Decisions regarding which dances a student performs are left to the discretion of the instructors and the school as it
is our responsibility to consider the entire group.
Our performances include both traditional and modern style Irish dances. Traditional Ceili dances and
choreographed routines for our classes have a set number of dancers required for each dance. Please be
considerate of other dancers by making sure you attend the performances if you have committed to it at the
beginning of the season.
Adult Int - Adv
St Patrick's Fest
Preschool Reel *if ready to perform
Soft Shoe & Ceili
Soft Shoe & Light Jig (5 Steps)
Soft Shoe, Hard Shoe or Ceili
Soft Shoe, Hard Shoe, Ceili
Preschool Reel & Song, Finale
Beginner Reel, Ceili, Song, Finale
Soft Shoe, Light Jig (3 Steps), H/S Technique, Song, Finale
Soft Shoe, Light Jig, Ceili, Hard Shoe, Song, Finale
Soft Shoe, Ceili Dance, Hard Shoe, Finale
Beginner Reel, Light Jig (3 -5 Steps), Finale
Soft Shoe, Hard Shoe, Ceili, Finale
For dancers and parents
Performance information (location, arrival & performance times, etc.) is sent out via e-mail
approximately 1 week prior to major performances (St. Patrick’s Fest’, Recital, and Folklorama).
Important dates may be sent out via e-mail and posted on the website, so please be sure to
check your e-mail and the website close to upcoming events.
Please try to arrive on time for shows and allow for traffic or parking delays.
If you are running late, please do not speed and risk accident.
Always arrive with your wig on, socks & tights on, and make-up applied.
All dancers will need to be checked in and out of dressing room. Dancers under 12 will require
an authorized parent or guardian to check out.
Parents are not allowed in dressing rooms at any performance, unless they are designated as
dressing room volunteers.
Parents should not ask to speak with Instructors at a performance as their attention is focused
on the show.
Applying make-up and changing costumes in public washrooms should be avoided, if possible.
Be respectful of limited amounts of space in dressing rooms, especially when sharing with other
Healthy, non-messy snacks and drinks (clear liquids) are recommended for all dancers in the
dressing room at performances as dancer’s burn a great deal of energy. Please send peanut free
snacks as we have dancers with serious allergies.
Practicing in public is considered unprofessional and dancing in lobbies, waiting rooms or
hallways is not permitted (unless under the supervision of a teacher)
Leave dressing rooms clean after using them. Please take garbage home with you, if refuse
containers are not provided.
It is customary and considered good form for dancers or groups who perform at the same show
to politely watch each other’s performance (if possible) and offer congratulations on successful
show. Please make every effort to foster good relations with other dancers and groups at shows.
Please do not discuss or grade other dancers or groups in public and refrain from making
derogatory remarks about other performers.
Please remember that while wearing your McConnell School of Dance attire, or costume, you are
representing the entire school and appropriate and polite behaviour is expected at all times.
Dressing Room Volunteers
are required for performances
3 Female Parent Volunteers are required as dressing room assistants for St. Patrick’s Fest', Recital, &
Folklorama. Volunteer dressing room assistants will usually have an opportunity to view the show from
back or side stage, in most cases.
We ask for 1 volunteer from the following levels
1 Preschool/Beginner, 1 Novice, 1 Preliminary
Students wishing to perform are require a school costume for their current level.
NEW $75 Deposit & black bodysuit
NEW Bun Wig $30
NEW $150 Deposit
¾ Cap $80
Full Cap Loose Ringlet $130
2014- 2015 will be final season for
the current Adult Costume.
Full Cap Loose Ringlet $130
New Costume Fees for female dancers have been estimated. It is our hope to keep costs as close to estimated deposit as
possible. Fees will be finalized once work has begun on new dresses.
Final costume costs will be determined in the fall, once work has begun on the dresses.
Boys Jazz Shoes
Boys Jazz Shoes
Boys Jazz Shoes
Boys Jazz Shoes
COSTUME ITEMS TO
Black Pants, Black Dress Shirt
Black Pants, Black Dress Shirt,
Black Pants, Black Dress Shirt,
Black Pants, Black Dress Shirt,
COSTUME ITEMS FROM
NEW Tie $25 Due with
NEW Tie $25 Due with
NEW Tie & Cummerbund
$90 Due with Registration
No changes this season.
Black Dress Pants (without pockets) – Purchased by the dancers or parent. We suggest you pick them up during
the winter months when they are easily available in stores. Pant length is very important and the hem should fall
at the back of the heel, but not touch the floor. Please insure pants are properly hemmed with hard or soft shoes
Black Dress Shirt - Purchased by the dancer or parent. Available at Old Navy
Tie Clip– Any style of tie clip is acceptable. Please avoid tie pins for safety reasons.
Black Dress Socks – Purchased by the dancer or parent.
Annual Costume Swap
Second Hand Costumes and Shoes
Saturday, September 27th, 2014
12:30 – 2:30 PM at the studio (32 Barberry Rd.)
MSDSA - McConnell School of Dance Student’s
Association hosts an annual costume swap to assist
dancers who wish to sell or purchase Irish dance shoes,
costumes, and accessories.
A large selection of 2nd hand costumes, shoes, and
dance supplies will be available for sale!
Second hand costumes and shoes may be listed on the
bulletin board at the studio. Ads will be removed
every season and it is the dancer or parent’s
responsibility to remove the ad once items are sold
Second hand school costumes may only be sold to
McConnell School of Dance students.
The fit of second hand items must be approved by
McConnell School of Dance, prior to purchase
Measuring & Fittings for New Costumes
September 22nd – 27th, 2014
For convenience, measuring and fittings are done at the studio during regular classes.
If you are unable to attend the class scheduled fitting, you will need to contact the seamstress to schedule another
appointment at her convenience.
Costumes are made to fit well and consideration for our younger dancers who are still growing is taken in to account in
seam and hem length.
Costumes must meet school standards. Students with ill-fitting costumes will be required to have them altered.
Making your own Costume
Irish dance dresses are very
difficult to sew and we do
not recommend individuals
attempt to make the
Patterns for class costumes
are available for purchase
from our school seamstress.
Embroidery designs on
dresses must be machine
In order to maintain our
high standard for school
costumes, all costumes
must meet the
requirements for fit and
Costume Frequently Asked Questions
When are costume fees due?
Costume fees are due with Registration.
Can I fundraise to help pay for costume fees?
Yes, fundraising opportunities may be available through our Student’s
If a dancer advances levels, do they require a new class
Yes, dancers who progress to higher levels will need a new class
costume for their new level. Often a new wig is required as well.
How long will a class costume be used?
Class costumes are changed every 5 – 7 years to keep the designs
current. Most dancers grow out of their class costumes and are able to
sell their old dress to up & coming students to help offset the cost of a
Irish Dance Shoes
All dancers should have the required footwear for their registered level as soon as possible.
We strongly recommend beginner students wait a few classes before they purchase Irish dance shoes in order to ascertain
whether or not they intend to continue with lessons. New students may wear socks, well-fitting slippers or ballet slippers
for the first few weeks of classes.
Class Shoe Requirements
Pre-School -Beginner Irish Soft Shoes
Novice - Preliminary Irish Soft & Hard Shoes
Intermediate & Advanced Irish Soft & Hard Shoes
Adult Intro Irish Soft Shoes & Hard Shoes (Optional)
Adult Int - Advanced - Irish Soft & Hard Shoes
Shoes for Girls & Boys
Girls wear Irish Soft shoes (pumps, or ghillies)
Boys wear Boys Reel Shoes. Boys begin with soft heels
(Capezio Jazz shoes) and progress to Reel Shoes with Hard
Shoe Heel pieces. Your instructor will inform you when it’s
time to advance to Reel Shoes with heel pieces.
Boys Reel Shoes
Both Females and Males wear Irish Dance Hard Shoes.
Irish Dance Products
McConnell School of Dance is an authorized vendor for Antonio Pacelli, Corrs, Faye’s, Hullachan Pro, and Rutherford Products.
Orders for products not in stock are placed at the end of each month from Sept to June.
We carry a full range of Irish dance shoes & supplies at the studio.
Generally shipments arrive 2 – 3 weeks.
Payment is required prior to ordering.
Second Hand Shoes
Listings for second hand shoes are
posted on our website.
There is a large market for second
hand shoes and costumes and
selling your used shoes helps to
offset the cost of new shoes.
A costume and shoe swap is
organized by our Student’s
Association at the end of
It is acceptable for dancers to wait
until after the Costume / Shoe Swap
before purchasing new shoes for the
Highland Shoes vs. Irish Shoes
Highland ghillies are structured different than Irish soft shoes
with a longer toe. Highland ghillies may be worn in class for
Ballet Slippers & Gym Shoes
Ballet Slippers and Gym Shoes do not offer the same support as
Irish dance soft shoes and make it difficult for dancers to obtain
a proper point for Irish dance. Ballet Slippers & Gym shoes
should only be worn for the first few classes.
Tap Shoes vs. Hard Shoes
Tap shoes should not be substituted for hard shoes, with the
exception of our Preschool students. Tap shoes do not function
in the same way as a hard shoe and are detrimental to the
formation of the basic beats for Irish.
How to tie your soft shoes
It is important that dancers and parents learn to tie their soft shoes properly.
Ill-fitting or improperly tied soft shoes make it difficult for the dancer, can be damaging for the foot,
and can increase the risk of injury.
All students should come in to class with the soft shoes properly tied.
Tying up your pumps can be tricky if you have never seen it done before.
Here is a step by step guide to give those struggling a helping hand!
1. Start at the loop at the front of the pump and thread the lace
through so there is an equal amount of lace on each side of the loop.
2. Take one end of the lace and start threading it through as shown in
the diagram. Do not cross the laces for the first hole. Don’t forget the
elastic loop under the ankle (not on all types of pumps)!
3. Take the other end of the lace and repeat the process, threading it
through as shown.
4. Thread the end of each lace through the loop at the back of the
5. Remember to slacken all the laces before putting the pump on.
6. Once on the foot, tighten all the laces, starting with the laces at the
toe end of the pump.
7. Different dancers have different ways of using up the left over lace.
One approach is to wrap the laces around you shin in a criss-cross
fashion, tying the final bit of lace in a small bow at the front of the leg.
Another approach is to wrap the extra laces around the pump at the
arch and tie on top. This second approach is not recommended as it
restricts the shape of the foot and can damage the foot in the long
8. Elastic lacing is NOT RECOMMENED in soft shoes unless absolutely necessary (for the purpose of quick shoe changes in
How To Break In Your New Hard Shoes
When you buy a new pair of hard shoes we recommend wearing them around your house often, not just when you are
practicing or in class. Wearing shoes at home will speed up the break in period and help prevent blisters developing from
dancing in new shoes. Hard shoes are made from soft leather which will stretch in length and width from 1 – 2 full sizes.
For those who cannot or do not want to wait some methods to break them in:
1. Using A Wet Rag
Wet a few clean rags and stuff one into the toe part of each shoe Bend over the shoes so that the tip of the toe is
tucked behind the heel - touching it and tie with strong elastic or string. Secure with elastics and leave either
overnight, or for a few days. Please be aware that too much moisten can damage the shoes so attempt at your own
2. Using Glove Softener
Glove conditioner, softener or a leather spray with expanding effect is also helping if you work it in well to the leather.
Please use caution when dancing immediately afterwards as shoes tend to be slippery.
Irish Dance Wigs
With the exception of Preschool, dancers wishing to perform will need to wear an Irish Dance Wig.
Beginner students who do not have wigs may perform at St. Patrick’s Fest’ and Recital (providing they curl
2012 – 2013 Wig Order Deadlines
November 1st, 2014
Students who change levels will, in most cases need
to upgrade their wigs along with their costumes.
Pre-School & Beginner
Why do Irish dancers wear wigs?
Depending on who you ask, the tightly curled big hair of
Irish dancers came from a cultural longing. Curly hair is also
reminiscent of a time when young Irish ladies dressed in
their Sunday best with curls. Another functional reason is
big curly hair balances out the large stiff dresses the girls
wear and accentuates the dance moves.
Irish dancing is a way of life for some, not just an activity
for St. Patrick's Day parade. Irish dancing competitions and
performances now occur year-round. Unless your hair is
naturally curly, achieving tightly curled hair is a very timeconsuming process. In the past girls did their hair with rag
curls, sometimes using 150 strips of cloth. Wigs facilitated
ladies' prep time and gave a more uniform look during
Wigs Are Here To Stay
Novice & Preliminary
3/4 Cap Medium Split Curl
Advanced, Adult, Performance
Medium sized ringlets, 'no frizz'
coating to keep the wig looking
full of vitality and bounce.
Wig Application and Care
Irish dance is a beautiful, expressive form of culture, and
the appearance of the female dancers is engrossing to
spectators. The wigs they wear, made from memory curl
plastic, allow female performers ease of preparation.
Whether worn for practicality or cultural legend, the
headpieces provide a beautiful accessory to the elaborate
Tips on wearing wigs...
Hair should be put in 2 ponytails on the sides of
the head. This creates hair going in the
opposite direction of the comb in the wig and
therefore causes resistance to the comb sliding
backwards while the dancer is bouncing.
If the last time the hair is flipped through the
pony tail holder, it is only pulled part way
through it makes the hair easier to tuck
underneath the wig.
Once the combs are fastened in, it is always best to put
Wigs must be put on at home, due to constraints
3 - 4 bobby pins just securing the wig. Usually in the
of time and space in dressing rooms. Irish Dance
front, woven with the hair and front of the wig, this also
helps prevent the wig from sliding backwards during a
wigs have combs or draw strings to hold the wig in
place, however additional bobby pins are recommended
as a safety precaution to prevent the wig from falling off
during a performance.
Bangs should be tucked under headbands and do not hang down on the face.
Wigs should NOT be stored in plastic bags or containers as the synthetic material used will deteriorate
Do NOT attempt to brush your wig. Wigs can be washed (a wig shampoo is recommended) Once washed, they can be wrapped
in a towel and left to dry. Lustre sprays are available to replace shine and prevent frizzing. If treated gently wigs will last many
years, however they will rapidly become tangled and frizzy if they are not properly looked after.
Available at our studio throughout the dance season
McConnell School of Dance students use Antonio Pacelli Championship length poodle
socks available in sizes petite, small, medium, and large. Poodle socks MUST be glued
in order to prevent them from falling down. Sock Glue is available for purchase at the
studio. For hygienic reasons, we do not recommend dancers share glue.
Socks should be kept clean and white (please use bleach)
We recommend you purchase several pairs of poodle socks for practice and
save one pair for performance.
McConnell School of Dance uses Mondor tights.
Please DO NOT substitute brands as colour differences are noticeable on stage
and will not be permitted.
Tights should be run free.
We recommend you have a spare pair on hand for a backup.
Class Level Sock & Tight Requirements
Pre-School - Beginner - poodle socks
Novice - Preliminary - poodle socks Intermediate - poodle socks
Advanced – poodle socks
Adult – black tights
Make- up is required for all dancers as stage lighting washes out natural colour and makes performers look pale. All
make-up should be applied at home, before the performance and not in dressing room or at venue.
Parents who have issues with their young children wearing make-up should discuss the matter with us prior to
performing to learn of options available.
GENERAL DIVISION MAKE UP
FULL STAGE MAKE-UP (Recital, Folklorama, St. Patrick's Fest')
Foundation (to match skin tone) and powder to prevent shine
Eye-shadow (brown, beige, copper shades)
Mascara (brown or black) ,
Lip Stick –soft (red)
LIGHT MAKE-UP (Performances at Legions, Senior Centres)
For smaller venues without stage lighting, less make-up is acceptable.
Powder to prevent shine
Eye-shadow (brown, beige, copper shades)
Mascara (brown or black)
Blush (pink) if necessary for dancers with pale complexions
Lip Stick – lighter (red)
Dancers wearing poodle socks should cover up unsightly bruises on legs and knees with foundation and make-up.
Nail Polish is not allowed for performances and should be removed at home.
Jewellery (rings, bracelets, earrings) may not be worn for performances with the exception of wedding rings and
medical alert bracelets
St Patrick's Fest' Fundraiser
Saturday, March 7th , 2015
Punjab Cultural Centre 5:00 - midnight
McConnell School of Dance Student’s Association (MSDSA) holds their annual St. Patrick's Fest' Fundraiser at the
beginning of March each year.
All McConnell School of Dance students are invited to perform at St. Patrick’s Fest’.
Proceeds raised from the fundraiser go towards our dancers who travel internationally.
Volunteers are needed for this event and we appreciate dancers or their family members volunteering for a 2 hour
shift during the night. A volunteer coordinator will contact dancers in January to schedule volunteer shifts.
Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
Prairie Theatre Exchange
Dress rehearsal Thursday, May 21st, 2014
Our Fall Season culminates with our Annual Recital.
All students are invited to perform in our recital, however participation
is not mandatory. Please indicate on your registration form if you
intended to take part in Recital & St. Patrick’s performances.
Recital Tickets on sale in April.
Mon March 23rd – Sat March 28th, 2015
Individual and class photos are taken at the studio, during regular class hours .
All students are asked to wear their costumes, full make-up, and wigs (or curled hair).
Dancers who do not perform or don’t have school costumes will not need to attend the photo session.
Orders forms will be sent out prior to photo session.
Photo order forms will need to be submitted prior to photo session.
Monday, July 6th – Friday, July 10th, 2015
A great way to make progress with your Irish dance over the summer with lots of fun at the same time.
July 6th – Friday, July 10th, 2015
9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Irish Dance warm up (stretching & injury prevention)
Learn a traditional Ceili Choreograph your own dance
Learn your own solo Irish Songs Basics of Irish music
Design your solo costume Irish History, Myths and Legends
Irish Language Lesson Learn to play the Bodhran - pizza boxes
provided Basics of Tin Whistle – whistles provided
Registration for Summer Camp is available in April
40 Years in Folklorama
Sam McConnell was one of the founding
members of the Folk Arts Council of
Winnipeg. The McConnell Dancers have
performed at the Ireland-Irish Pavilion,
the Emerald Isle pavilion and the school
ran the "Isle of the Shamrock".
McConnell School of Dance performed at the Ireland - Irish Pavilion 2004 – 2012, sponsored by the Irish
Association of Manitoba and run by McConnell School of Dance Student’s Association in 2012
Shayleen McConnell Finucan served as Ireland-Irish Pavilion Coordinator for 2010, 2011, 2012, steering
committee 2011 & 2013, and sustainability committee 2013.
2010 Folklorama Ireland-Irish Ambassadors Danielle Sliboda & Maclean Boyd (McConnell dancers)
2011 Folklorama Ireland-Irish Ambassadors Hilary Balagus, Alasdair Fergusson, Connor Boyd (McConnell
dancers & family members)
2012 Folklorama Ireland-Irish Ambassadors Veronica Fieldhouse, Alasdair Fergusson, Selina Capizzi, Kieran Hall
2014 Folklorama United Kingdom Ambassadors Lauren Rousseau, Alasdair Fergusson, Megan MacDonald,
United Kingdom Pavilion
MSDSA (McConnell School of Dance Student’s Association)
sponsor the United Kingdom Pavilion for Folklorama
A large number of volunteers are required to run a pavilion
at Folklorama and we will look towards our dancers, their
families and friends for support!
All McConnell dancers are invited to perform at
Folklorama. Dancers are required to attend classes during
the summer months for Folklorama practice.
Folklorama registration is available in April each season.
For more information visit the United Kingdom Pavilion
McConnell School of Dance Students Association Inc.
MSDSA’s AGM - Saturday, September 27 , 2014 at 2:45 PM
MSDSA is a non-profit corporation, established to assist all students with McConnell School of Dance. Membership is free to
all students and dependant on yearly registration with McConnell School of Dance.
Board Meetings are held at the studio and are open for all students and
parents to attend. All dancers and parents are encouraged to actively
participate in events with regards to our Students Association. Eight
board positions are elected yearly and board members are expected to
participate in fundraising activities. Board nomination sheets are posted
at the beginning of each dance season and elections take place at our
Annual General Meeting.
is looking for Board Members!
Mandate: To promote and preserve Irish culture and dance and to assist
students and parents enrolled with McConnell School of Dance.
Dancers or Parents (for students under 18)
are encouraged to consider a position on
our Board of Directors.
Please consider becoming an active
member as our dancers benefit a great deal
thanks to our Student’s Association
Membership: Students are issue a yearly membership with MSDSA upon
registration with McConnell School of Dance. Dancers under 18 years of
age may have one parent/guardian representative and vote.
MSDSA Annual General Meeting
Sat Sept 27th 2:45 PM (32 Barberry Rd)
Annual Costume Swap
Saturday, September 27th
12 noon - 2:00 PM at the studio
MSDSA - McConnell School of Dance
Student’s Association hosts an annual
costume swap to assist dancers who
wish to sell or purchase Irish dance
shoes, costumes, and accessories.
Jackie White Lyons
Memorial Scholarship Award
Established in 2008
A scholarship awarded to dancers with
McConnell School of Dance for outstanding achievement. In memory of
and friend, Jackie White Lyons.
2008 - Laura Balagus
2009 - Mary-Margaret Magyar & Hilary Balagus
2010 - Hilary Balagus & Danielle Sliboda
2011 - Wendy Havens
2013 – Seven Towers Dancers (Ballymena, Northern Ireland)
A large selection of 2nd hand costumes,
shoes, and dance supplies will be
available for sale!
McConnell Practice Guide
Irish Dance is a disciplined learning and requires consistent practice and effort to become proficient. Like any skilful activity,
hard work is required to achieve success. In order for a dancer to progress in Irish dance, hard work, dedication, and athome practice is essential. We encourage all students to practice at home and parental assistance is often necessary.
Personal progress and performance are directly affected by practice time, attitude and effort in class and at home.
Practice Tools: Practice demos & music are available in the member’s area of the website. Due to copyright legislation,
we are unable to provide dancers with copies of music.
Irish Dance Practice CD’s are available for purchase and special order at our studio
How long should my child practice?
Daily practice will help dancers remember steps and improve
technique. Dancers should try to practice at least three times a
Recommended practice time
(not including warm up and cool down).
Preschool /Beginner - 15 min per day or 1 ½ hrs. per week
Novice / Preliminary- 30 min per day or 4 hrs. per week
Intermediate / Advanced - 45 min per day or 5 hrs. per week
Junior – Advanced Performance 60 min per day OR 6 hrs. per week
Adult -30 min per day OR 4 hrs. per week
Having trouble keeping up?
Consider Private Lessons
If a dancer is struggling or falling behind
their class, sometimes an extra hour or
two of private lessons is the easiest and
fastest way for a student to catch up.
Private lessons are a great idea for
parents who would like to learn the basic
steps and technique to assist their child
with at-home practice
The times listed above are minimum times for practicing dance steps and technique.
Remember to warm up and stretch well before every practice. Don’t forget to cool down.
To increase flexibility, dancers should spend at least 10 minutes a day stretching.
Information for Parents: Supporting your dancer
Some children have a natural drive to practice on their own. These dancers need only support and encouragement to
continue with their good practice habits.
Some dancers desire to progress with their dancing but have trouble understanding how to fit practice time into their
day. These children often need help from their parents to set out a weekly practice plan and stick to it. Quite often,
after a month or two of help and support, these children can learn to practice diligently on their own to achieve their
It is important to discover what your child's practice style is and compare that with what their goals are for
their dancing. As an Irish dance parent, your most important role is to accept the character type of your child and
do your best to be supportive of them and the decisions they make regarding their Irish dance.
Offer encouragement, especially when your child may be struggling. Please do not use punishment or lack of
affection and warmth to get your children to try harder or perform better.
If you child falls behind, please work with the instructors to determine a realistic goal for the dancer to
achieve. It is essential that we have the full support from parents, especially when a child is struggling.
Avoid criticizing your child's practice or performance.
Avoid criticizing other dancer’s in practice or performance. Always be a positive role model for your dancer.
Do not get upset or treat your child differently when they make a mistake.
Stick to your parental role. Avoid trying to be your child's coach or teacher (i.e. becoming too involved in
steps or technique, etc.).
Frequently Asked Questions
How many students are there in our classes?
Traditionally, Irish dance is taught in large classes with multiple levels within the group. At McConnell School of Dance, we prefer to keep
class size smaller so we can focus individual attention on each student. We maintain a minimum of 1 teacher for 8 students. Should
class enrolment be greater than 8, additional instructors are brought in to assist.
Can I come into class with my child?
Parents are discouraged from coming in to class with their child, as they are a distraction for all children in the room. If your child is
reluctant to come in to class on their own, please let us know so that we may assist you and your child through the process their first few
classes. Generally, our younger children feel very at home in the studio and with their teachers within the first month of lessons.
Will I need to purchase shoes right away?
We do not recommend dancers purchase shoes until they are certain they intend to continue with lessons for the season. All Irish
dancers will require Irish Soft Shoes & eventually they will require Hard Shoes. Dancers should have the shoes they require for their level
by the end of October.
Do I have to fundraise?
Fundraising is optional for our General Division dancers. Some dancers and parents enjoy the opportunity to fundraise for dance related
expenses however; we understand not everyone has the time or desire to participate in fundraising efforts. For those who wish to
participate in individual fundraising, you will be required to contribute 6 volunteer hours per season. All fundraising is organized through
our Students Association (MSDSA) and Performance Division.
What is MSDSA?
MSDSA is our non-profit Student’s Association, which offers support and fundraising opportunities for all McConnell School of Dance
students. Dancers automatically gain membership with MSDSA upon registration. There are no membership fees or dues. Dancers and
parents are welcome to attend meetings (monthly). Meeting notice is sent out via e-mail and posted on the website
Do you compete at Feiseanna?
Yes! McConnell School of Dance now participates in Open Platform feisanna. Dancers must enrol in our Competitive Division to
participate in competitions.
Do I have to perform?
No, performance is not mandatory for any of our levels or classes. Dancers should inform the instructor by October 15th if they do not
wish to perform for the season
Performance or General Division?
Performance demands a great deal from our dancers and their family members. Dancers must be dedicated and Performance should be
their primary focus (aside from school and work). The benefits of Performance are accelerated learning, higher achievements in dance,
and opportunities to perform with a world class Irish dance troupe. If a dancer or parent is uncertain whether they can dedicate the
time necessary for Performance, we recommend you enrol in General Division.
General Division students are offered ample opportunities to perform throughout the season and at Folklorama. Our General Program is
ideal for dancers who enjoy Irish dance and want to keep involved in other activities.
How many classes a week should I take?
For first year students we recommend starting off with one class per week. After their first year, some students choose to attend 2 or 3
classes a week. The extra practice results in more rapid progress however, for dancers who simply want to enjoy learning Irish dance; it is
perfectly acceptable to enrol in one class only.
Irish Dance Information
Ancient History of Irish Dance
The first dance in Ireland is thought to be from the Druids and their pagan beliefs. These dances included tree
worship dances, animal dances, work dances, war dances, courtship dances and some dances just for fun. My
own thought is these dances were performed in a group and not solo.
The history of Irish dance has been shaped over the centuries by the many invasions of Ireland. Each invader brought their cultural
contribution to modern Irish dance.
Music was usually accompanied by dancing. Music is thought to have arrived about 1600 BC with the Tuatha De Dannan. They came
from an area around the River Elbe in Germany. In 1300 BC during the reign of a De Dannan king named Ollam Fodhla the first great feis
was held at Tara, called Feis Teamhair (House of Music).
The Celts came with their language and culture about 500 BC. For a little over 900 years they were a heavy influence on Irish culture.
The coming of Saint Patrick (AD 432) and Christianity changed all that. Saint Patrick converted the pagan Celts to Christianity by
combining pagan beliefs and symbols with Catholic beliefs. The Christians did the same with the pagan dance, trying to make it more
civilized, but the basic pagan movement remained.
When the Vikings began to invade in AD 795 they destroyed many of the Celts written records, including any history of Irish dance.
The Feisianna (Feis) a festival of trade, politics and culture survived, and were carried on by the newly combined culture of the Celts and
Vikings. The Feisianna evolved into a place of art, music, dance, and sporting events. The Celts may have lost their written records to the
Vikings, but dance was still handed down from generation to generation by tradition. Today Feis are music and dance competitions that
still have art, crafts and trade.
The Norman invasion (1169-1172) brought the round dance to Ireland. This was an important event in the history of Irish dance. At this
time in the twelfth century the round dance was very popular with the French nobility in Normandy. The Irish really took to this type of
dancing. It's still very popular in Ireland today.
In the fifteenth century, the Normans brought carolling to the island. Carolling was a mixture of singing and dancing. It was still being
performed late into the twentieth century in parts of Wexford. This was another way to carry on the dance traditions.
Modern History of Irish Dance
What you think of as Irish dance today, had its beginnings in the mid eighteenth century. Up until this time Irish dance was performed in
a group, a social dance. The advent of the Dancing Master at this time brought about the solo or step dance. They taught refinement for
the group dance and the footwork for the solo dance. Later in the early nineteenth century some of the group dances began to use
some of the steps taught in the solo dances.
There were many Dancing Masters in Ireland. They all had distinct territories of about 10 square miles. When the
Dancing Master came into an area he would stay from one to six weeks to teach for a fee. He was usually
accompanied by a piper or fiddler. His first task was to obtain the use of a barn or kitchen from a local farmer in which to hold lessons. In
return the farmer's children received free lessons. When the weather was good, dancing was taught out in the open at the nearest
The arrival of the Dancing Master was a big event. He considered himself a gentleman and was treated like one. He dressed in a
whimsical fashion. He wore a Carolina hat, swallowtail coat, tight knee breeches, white stockings and turn-pumps, and carried a cane
with a silver head and silk tassel. He was considered a cut above the piper and fiddler. He instilled this high standard in his pupils.
The Dancing Masters continued in Ireland until the early twentieth century. Nearly 200 years of teaching brought about Irish dancing, as
we know it today. The jig, reel and hornpipe were refined and standardized during this period.
Any history of Irish dance would not be complete without mentioning the Gaelic League. At the end of the nineteenth century there was
a strong movement for a national Irish identity. The Gaelic League was formed in 1893 to promote Irish culture. The league grew very
quickly; within a few years there were thousands of members in Ireland, Great Britain and the U.S.A. Although their main goal was to
preserve the Irish language, they had a big influence on Irish dance, as we know it today. For dance they encouraged proper conduct,
good behaviour and an air of refinement. They organized dance classes and competitions.
In 1897 the London branch of the Gaelic league held the first "ceili" (Irish figure dance). The word ceili became the term to use for such a
In 1929 the league set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the state of Irish dance in the world, this lead to the formation of the
Irish Dance Commission in 1930.
Irish Dance Terminology
What is Irish Dance?
Irish dance is an ancient art form with strong ties to the community, religious ceremonies, and rituals. The Irish people created music and
dance for weddings, fairs, saints’ days, annual festivals and harvests. In Irish step dancing, the dancers hold the upper body very straight
and the arms close to the sides. The emphasis is on the footwork, the speed of the quick changes of position, the height of the jumps, and
the uniformity of the dancers.
Types of Irish Dance
Irish dancing is separated into the performance dances and the social dances (ceilis)
Central to the Irish dance tradition is the technique of “stepping,” which involves a concentration on foot movements close to
the floor in which the tempo of the accompanying music is beaten out by the dancer. The four types of Irish music and
associated dances are the jig, reel, hornpipe, and the set dances.
Ceili Dances (pronounced KAY-lee) A Ceili is a gathering for music and dance.
Ceili dances were derived from group set dances and French quadrilles, but were set to Irish music. They are said to have evolved
with the help of the Irish dance masters, many from County Kerry. The Handbook of Irish Dances published in 1902, led to
standardisation of Ceili dances. Recording the descriptions of these dances occurred through the 1930s. Luckily, many Ceili
dances were recorded before being lost in history. Sometimes Ceili dancing is referred to as figure dancing.
Choreography is defined as the “art of making visual structures in which movement occurs.” The artists who make these compositions
are called choreographers. A choreographer creates a dance by having an idea or vision and then arranging and directing the
movements of the dancers. The choreographer works closely with the dancers, the stage manager and musicians during rehearsals.
Choreographers work in various settings including fencing, gymnastics and ice skating.
Soft Shoe (Ghillies, Pumps, Light Shoes)
The name for the soft shoe worn by female dancers, also called pump, or soft shoe. They are distinctive, with lacing-up from near the toe
to up and around the ankle and lower leg. Ghillies are used for all the light dances such as reels, light jigs, slip jigs, and single jigs.
Hard Shoe (Heavy Shoes)
Hard Shoes are durable leather shoes with heavy fibreglass, composite or steel tips and heels. The tips and heels emphasize the rhythmic
beats in the Irish music. Hard shoes are worn when performing hornpipes, hard jigs, sets and treble reels. Irish dances with hard shoes
are generally more difficult to perform and are reserved for later when the dancer gains more experience and abilities.
Originally the hornpipe was danced exclusively by males in hard shoes, but now, both men and women perform. The hornpipe is in 4/4
time, reminiscent of a slow reel with accents on the first and third beat (ONE-and-a two-and-a three-and-a four-and-a). The apparent
slowness of the music, allows for many intricate dance elements in a short amount of time.
There are a number of variations of the jig, including the light, single (or soft), double (treble or hard), and slip jig. The music is 6/8 time
(the emphasis on beats in a jig is: ONE-two-three four-five-six). Slip jigs are in 9/8 time (ONE-two-three four-five-six seven-eight-nine).
Dancers perform single or soft jigs in soft shoes. Normally, only women dance the slip jig, however, increasingly boys learn and dance the
Feis (pronounced "fesh")
A festival or competition that includes figure (group) and solo step dancing, crafts, instrumental, vocal and Gaelic language competitions.
The plural is feisanna.
(pronounced "oh-ROCK-tus") A type of feis. In North America, they are organised by regions, having begun in 1976. Competition is by age
category and gender, but there is no separation of skill levels. Dancers placing high qualify for the World Championship in Ireland
(Oireachtas na Cruinne). A North American championship competition began in 1969. Locations vary from year to year. Both the national
and world championships are also called Oireachtas (plural is Oireachtasai).
The reel originated around 1750 in Scotland and the Irish dance masters brought it to full development. The music is 4/4 time and it is
danced at a relatively fast tempo (ONE-two-three-four). Both men and women dance the reel. For women, it is a light, rapid soft shoe
dance that allows for plenty of leaping and demands an energetic performance from the dancer. Men often dance the reel in light shoes
with a heavy heel to accent the steps with heel beats and clicks. An exciting and modern form of a reel called a treble reel evolved from
1990’s Irish dance shows like “River dance” and “Lord of the Dance”.
Slip jigs are in 9/8 time (ONE-two-three four-five-six seven-eight-nine). The slip jig is danced in soft shoes and is the most graceful of Irish
dances. It features light hopping, sliding, skipping and pointing, and rocks.
Dates to Remember
Thurs Sept 4
Sat Sept 6th
Mon Sept 8th
Mon Sept 22 – 27th
Sat Sept 27th
Sat Sept 27th
Mon Oct 13th
Mon Oct 20 – 25th
Sat Oct 25th
Fri Oct 31st
Tues Nov 11th
Sat Nov 29th
Sat Dec 13th
Sat Dec 21st – Jan 4th
Sat Dec 21st – Jan 4th
Jan 30th – Feb 1st
Mon Feb 16th
Sat Mar 7th
Tue Mar 17th
Mon Mar 30th – Apr 5th
Mon Mar 23rd – 28th
Mon Mar 30th – Apr 5th
Sat May 2nd
Mon May 18th
Thu May 21st
Sat May 23rd
Wed June 3rd
Sat June 6th
Mon July 6th – 10th
Aug 1 – 15
Open House / Drop in Registration 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Brandon & Wpg Beach Classes Commence
Winnipeg Classes Commence
Measuring for New Costumes
MSDSA’s Costume & Shoe Swap 12:30 – 2:30 PM
MSDSA’s Annual General Meeting
No Classes - Thanksgiving
Parent’s Viewing Week
School Clothing Order Deadline
No Classes - Halloween
No Classes – Remembrance Day
Wig Order Deadline
No Classes – Holiday Break
No Classes – Holiday Break
Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival
No Classes – Louis Riel Day
St. Patrick’s Fest’ Punjab Centre 5:30 – 12:00 AM
St. Patrick’s Day 2015 Location TBA 5:30 – 12:00 AM
No Classes – Spring Break
No Classes – Spring Break
School Photo Day
No Classes – Victoria Day
Annual Recital – Afternoon & Evening Show
Summer Session Commences
Brandon Recital – Afternoon Rehearsal Evening Show
Irish Dance Summer Camp
Folklorama – United Kingdom Pavilion