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Festival style Irish dance Fall 2024

Irish Dance with Kate Spanos

September 4 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Deepen your skills in Irish dance with Kate Spanos! Classes will focus primarily on festival style Irish dance technique, with an emphasis on strength, control, musicality, and stage presence. In a fun and non-competitive environment, you will learn new steps and choreographies that draw from various Irish step dance styles.

The goal of the class series is to promote a holistic understanding of Irish dance and develop strong performers, well-informed traditional dancers, and inspired creators.

The class is geared toward intermediate/advanced Irish dancers (ages 13+) and will include both soft shoe and hard shoe dancing. If you are not sure if this level is right for you, please talk to Kate.

Semester registration is encouraged but drop-ins are welcome. New choreography will be introduced every 2-3 weeks.

Class details:

  • Dates: Wednesdays, Sep 5 – Dec 18 (15 classes; no class Nov 27)
  • Time: 7:30-9 p.m.
  • Location: CityDance at Parklawn in Rockville, MD
  • Cost: $320 semester registration (family discounts available; contact Kate), $24 drop-in

About festival style:

Festival style Irish dance is from the Belfast area of Northern Ireland. The style was innovated in the 1930s to 1950s by Patricia Mulholland, who created an “Irish folk ballet” that focused on expressiveness and musicality in Irish dance. The style has garnered more global attention in recent years through the work of Lauren Smyth, the first principal dancer in Riverdance to come from the festival tradition. Festival style slip jigs and set dances are much slower than their feis style counterparts, and dancers pay particular attention to expressing “light and shade” in the music. Grace, elegance, and control are key features of this style. 

Other Irish dance styles include “feis” style (e.g., the style promoted by organizations like An Coimisiún and An Comhdháil), show style (e.g., Riverdance), old style step dance, sean nós dance, and céilí and set dancing.

This class is focused on festival style technique—a style that rarely taught in the United States—but we will take inspiration from various styles to develop a holistic understanding of Irish dance as a rich and multifaceted genre.

About the instructor:

Kate Spanos is a dancer and dance scholar from the DC area with a Ph.D. in dance and performance studies from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in traditional Irish dance performance from the University of Limerick. She has been teaching Irish dance since 1999. She started dancing in 1990 with Laureen O’Neill-James, ACDRG, and had a successful competitive career that led her to the World Championships in 2000. She learned to teach under the mentorship of Carmel O’Rourke-Tighe, ACDRG, and Maria Oliver, TCRG. She currently studies festival style with Lauren Smyth from County Down through the Lauren Smyth Academy. For more about Kate, visit www.thekatespanos.com.

About the program:

The Kate Spanos Irish Dance program is for dancers interested in exploring the diversity of Irish dance, beyond just the competition world, to gain a holistic understanding of the genre. Classes are strongly rooted in traditional Irish dance techniques but also encourage dancers to develop their own voices as performers and creators. The program emphasizes playfulness while taking seriously the Irish dance tradition and its history. The program is informed by inspirational dancing masters who made significant contributions to the genre from inside and outside of Irish dance’s larger governing bodies (e.g., An Coimisiún) over the past century.

The program aims to build a community of performers and includes preparation to participate in a robust performance schedule for dancers who are interested.

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September 4
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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CityDance at Parklawn
11711 Parklawn Dr B
Rockville, MD 20852 United States
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