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Lexington Irish Dance School Bluegrass Ceili Academuy
Photo from January 2020’s Percussive Irish Dance Workshop

What classes look like at our Lexington Irish dance school over the last few months are certainly different than the last time we were in our Artworks studio. Video lessons and review, Zoom classes and outdoor instruction are all ways we’ve kept our dancers moving over the summer. 

As we head back into classes this September, there are more changes coming for Bluegrass Ceili Academy and we’re excited to share them with you. 

Focusing on fundamentals

This fall, the classes for both our youth and adult dancers at our Lexington Irish dance school will focus on the fundamentals of Irish step dancing. Different from the ceili dancing we usually teach, this year’s instruction will include learning what we call “solo” dances — the reel, jig, slip jig and single jig — and the proper footwork and form required to dance them. 

Youth and adult dancers alike will learn dances required to proceed through the Grade Exams administered by An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG), the Irish Dancing Commission. According to CLRG, grade exams “provide a structured framework within which dancers can work towards an achievable goal and to provide a strong foundation in Irish dance.” 

Think of it, if you will, like belts in the martial arts. Each dancer tests individually, receiving a detailed written assessment of their performance and knowledge. 

What’s old is new at our Lexington Irish dance school

Lexington Irish Dance School instructors Bluegrass Ceili Academy
Mary Beth (right) and Megan (left) first danced together at the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance in the Washington, D.C. area

Another change is the addition of a new instructor with long-standing ties to our dance family. Starting Sept. 1, Mary Beth Taylor will join the Bluegrass Ceili Academy as an instructor, giving students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of multiple styles of Irish dancing. 

Mary Beth is a sean-nós dancing teacher and a registered Irish dancing teacher with more than 20 years of experience. She and academy director Megan Moloney studied dance together in Washington, D.C. Since then, Mary Beth has served as the primary instructor at the annual Irish Percussive Dance Workshop co-hosted by Bluegrass Ceili Academy since 2018. Over this summer, she taught virtual sean-nós dancing classes to a number of Bluegrass Ceili students online from Dublin.

The director of Irish and Sean Nós Dance Dublin, Mary Beth has danced all over the world, having taught and performed throughout Ireland, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Cyprus, Albania, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and Oman. A two-time recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Deis award, Mary Beth is the creator of two popular instructional DVDs, Sean-Nós Dance for Everyone and Sean-Nós Jigs for Everyone.  

Larger location for in-person classes, virtual options

When classes resume this year on Sept. 21, we’ll be in a new, larger space at the Tates Creek Recreation Center to allow for physical distancing. Our regular Monday classes will be available online to give students a choice of whether to attend in person or virtually. 

We’re also taking our Lexington Irish dance school fully online for additional classes during the week, with virtual review sessions on Wednesdays for adults and monthly weekend review classes for all students. 

Registration for classes opens Monday, Aug. 31 at noon via the Lexington Parks and Recreation website. Classes run nine weeks, Sept. 21 through Nov. 16 and cost $75 for the session.