Join us for a percussive Irish dance workshop in Lexington

Irish Dance Percussive Workshop in Lexington

Do you tap, clog, Irish dance or just enjoy a good toe-tapping tune?  If so, spend your weekend with us making music with your feet. The Bluegrass Irish Society, Bluegrass Ceili Academy and Kentucky McTeggart Irish Dancers are honored to bring Mary Beth Taylor to Lexington from Dublin, Ireland, for two days of traditional old style Irish séan nos and set dancing classes.

Take one class or take them all!  The weekend’s workshop focuses on two styles of traditional Irish dance — séan nos and set dancing. At the end of the workshops, dancers and their friends and families are invited to join us for a public “dance about” at McCarthy’s Irish Pub in downtown Lexington.

All classes will be held at Artworks at the Carver School, 522 Patterson Street, in downtown Lexington.


Tentative schedule (as of 10/24):

Saturday, Jan. 13
10 - 11 a.m.Class 1 - Sean Nos Steps for Beginners (part 1)
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.Class 2 - Sean Nos Steps for Advanced Percussive Dancers (part 1)
12:15 - 1 p.m.Lunch
1 - 2 p.m.Class 3 - Battering for Set Dancers (part 1)
2:15 - 3:15 p.m.Class 4 - Working with Live Music: Beginners & Advanced (part 1)
3:30 - 5 p.m.Class 5 - Brush & Barrel Dancing
Sunday, Jan. 14
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.Class 1 - Sean Nos Refresh and Review - Beginners (part 2)
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.Class 2 - Sean Nos Refresh and Review - Advanced (part 2)
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.Class 3 - Battering & Set Dancing (part 2)
2:45 - 3:45 p.m.Class 4 - Working with Live Music (part 2)
3:45 - 5 p.m.Break
5 p.m. - ???Dance about at McCarthy’s

Course fees:

Class NamePer class, Parts 1 or 2Both Parts 1 & 2
Séan Nos Steps for Beginners$15$25
Séan Nos Steps for Advanced Percussive Dancers$15$25
Battering for Set Dancers$15$25
Working with Live Music$15$25
Brush Dancing$25
Full Workshop (all classes)$70 (Saturday only)$100 (Saturday & Sunday)
Class Observer$15 for one day$25 for two days


Irish Dance Percussive Workshop Class Descriptions

Séan nos steps for beginners (parts 1 & 2)

The old style of Irish dancing is perhaps less athletic and demanding on the dancer’s body than its modern competitive counterpart, yet it is absolutely compelling to watch and listen to. The ultimate goal is the interaction of the dancer with the music. When you watch a sean nós dancer, you can also see the roots of a number of other percussive dance styles, such as tap dance or flatfooting, and start to understand the bigger picture of the development of percussive dance. In this class, we will go over a number of traditional steps for reels and jigs to enable your feet to speak the music fluently.

Séan nos steps for advanced percussive dancers (parts 1 & 2)  

If you’re an experienced percussive dancer — tap, clogging or Irish step dancer — this class is for you. The class will learn similar material to the beginner steps, but at a speed more well suited for those who are already used to tapping out a rhythm with their feet.

Battering for set dancers (parts 1 & 2)

Danced with a partner in a ‘set’ of four couples, set dancing is traditional form of social dancing that is still very popular in Ireland today. Like céilí dances, sets are comprised of a series of figures. When doing sets, you can dance in a simple style, with a basic one-two-three step. However, many set dancers enjoy ‘battering,’ which is putting sean-nós-style shuffling rhythms into the different figures. In this workshop, participants will learn a variety of battering steps, both jigs and reels, along with a popular set dance. Dancers will get the chance to ‘batter’ within the set, with the footwork giving extra rhythm and excitement to the classic figures.

Working with live music (parts 1 & 2)

Open your ears to listen more deeply to our musicians. You will get a better understanding of the structure of tunes and the implications of time signature for your choice of steps – this will free up the creativity of your feet, and develop choreographic skills you never thought you had!

Brush dancing 

In a traditional Irish brush dance (or broom dance), the broom really comes to life, and you will never fail to catch your audience when you start swinging your legs over it…  Quite a bit of this class will focus on developing your own creative choreographic skills. Bring your favorite broom with you to dance with!  And stay tuned for a special Kentucky twist on another Irish tradition.

About the Instructor

Irish dance percussive workshop in Lexington

Mary Beth Taylor brings more than 20 years of experience teaching traditional Irish percussive dance to Central Kentucky for a weekend workshop January 13-14, 2018. Photos courtesy of by Silvia Vitali.

Mary Beth Taylor is a sean-nós dancing teacher and a registered Irish dancing teacher, or TCRG, with An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha. A dancer, educator and director of Irish & Sean-Nós Dance Dublin with more than 20 years of experience, Mary Beth has taught and performed all over the world, including workshops and shows in Ireland, the USA, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and Oman.

The child of an Irish mother and an American father, Mary Beth grew up in Marietta, Georgia.  A dance enthusiast from a young age, Mary Beth did ballet and tap for many years before discovering Irish dancing. Starting at the age of 15 with the Mulligan School of Irish Dance in Marietta, Mary Beth soon progressed to Championship level and competed at feiseanna and Oireachtasi throughout the United States. Upon moving to Athens, Georgia, to pursue her undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia, Mary Beth started her first Irish dancing class at age 19, and taught there until graduation.

After moving to Washington, D.C. for work, Mary Beth began dancing with the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance, and continued to compete and perform. Mary Beth moved to Ireland two years later to pursue a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at University College Dublin. Under the guidance of Mollie Farrelly, ADCRG and Claire Keane Aherne, ADCRG, she studied for her exams to become formally qualified in teaching Irish dancing.  In Belfast, in 2005, Mary Beth successfully passed her TCRG exams on her first attempt.

Mary Beth started learning sean-nós dancing in Dublin in 2003. She was very luck to learn from a variety of talented teachers from all over Ireland, including Máire Áine Ní Iarnáin, Sibéal Davitt, Mairéad Casey, Rónán Reagan, Paul Moran, Emma O’Sullivan, Róisín Ní Mhainín, Bronach O’Neill, and Gerard Butler. After traveling to different festivals and workshops throughout Ireland, Mary Beth began to develop her own steps and style. Drawing from her background in Irish dance instruction, she began teaching sean-nós dancing in Dublin in 2005.

Mary Beth is a two-time recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Deis recording award, and is the creator of two popular instructional DVDs, Sean-Nos Dance for Everyone (2011) and Sean-Nos Jigs for Everyone (2012). In 2012, she was honored to be featured in the Aer Lingus Cara magazine as one of the ‘Top Six’ featured performers in the world of modern Irish dance (Dec 2012). As the director of Irish & Sean-Nos Dance Dublin, she teaches weekly classes in both Irish dancing and sean-nos dancing in Dublin city, and frequently travels to deliver sean-nos workshops to lovers of Irish culture and dance around the world.

About our workshop sponsors

The Bluegrass Irish Society provides a focal point for those interested in Ireland and her traditions. Incorporated as a public, charitable and educational organization and a section 501(C) (3) corporation in September 1980, the society is best known for sponsoring the yearly Alltech Lexington St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival has promoted Irish culture in Central Kentucky.

Founded in Lexington in 2015, the Bluegrass Ceili Academy brings more than a decade of Irish dance teaching experience and ceili expertise to Central Kentucky. With classes for adults and children, Bluegrass Ceili Academy is giving back to our community, and living our mission by providing a supportive learning environment for dancers of all ages and skill levels.

For more than 20 years, the Kentucky McTeggart Irish Dancers have been teaching in Central Kentucky.  The school’s mission is to build healthy bodies through traditional Irish dance, cultivate confident spirits through accomplishment, and foster a sense of heritage through cultural enrichment and community service.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial