Irish dancing - with its stiff body posture, rapid foot movement, and graceful glides across the floor - may have been popularized in mainstream America through Riverdance, but the distinctive art form is actually centuries old. It originated in Ireland, but as the Irish immigrated to America, so did this integral part of the Irish culture. Today it is taught and performed around the world.
Irish Dancing is for both girls and boys. While the majority of students are girls, the number of boys is increasing. The main purpose of Irish dancing lessons is to recognize, teach, and preserve Irish Heritage. A child does not need to be Irish to dance.
One aspect of the dancing is the performance. Throughout the year, dancers are invited to execute their skills in front of a live audience. Touring professional Irish musicians often request Clarkson dancers' performances as part of their stops in St. Louis.
Of course, Irish dancers are in great demand during the months of February and March. In addition to performances, dancers are invited to participate in the two parades celebrating St. Patrick`s Day in St. Louis.
Another aspect of the dancing is competition available for those interested. The competition is called a Feis (Gaelic for competition). These events are held throughout the year, with the majority held during the summer months.
The most important element in dancing is that it is enjoyable. Children want to learn to dance because it is fun!
The Clarkson School is one of the premier Irish Dancing Schools in the Midwest. It was established in 1989 with an enrollment of 30 students and has grown to more than 150 dancers - boys and girls. Most dancers are between the ages of 4 and 19. Clarkson School dancers range in ability from beginner to championship level and practice at three sites in St. Louis.
The Clarkson School is the only St. Louis-based school of Irish Dance to have secured World Championship medals, won by Alicia Andersen, Mary Jo Clark, Julia Crump, Kaitlin McAlexander and Colleen McGlynn, Great Britain Championships medals won by Alicia Andersen, Hope Bretscher, Jillian Conrad, Katie Higgins, Helen Hillis, Alex Kegler, Kaitlin McAlexander, Colleen McGlynn, Abbi Sieve, Jacob Sieve, and Jenna Wiehl, and has earned the most All Ireland medals, won by Alicia Andersen, Mary Jo Clark, Jillian Conrad, Leah Gantz, Katie Higgins, Colleen McGlynn, Patrick Smith and Jenna Wiehl.