It's about more than dancing.
At Clarkson, we feel honored to share this beautiful and traditional art form with the St. Louis community. But we also see Irish dance as a powerful force in childrens' lives. Our teachers provide thoughtful, postive instruction in a supportive environment. Through classes, competitions, camps, and performances, children learn to set goals, work hard and build friendships while exercising and having fun.
Mary G. Clarkson, TCRG
Director & Founder
Mary is a first generation Irish-American and the oldest of five children. Mary began her dance career studying ballet under the renowned Dolores Wein of Lalla Bauman Dance Studio in St. Louis. She took her first Irish dance class at age 12 at the Hazelton Academy of Irish Dance in St. Louis. During her high school years at Incarnate Word Academy, she served as a senior dance captain for the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance and taught locally on behalf of her Chicago-based instructor, Mark Howard. In 1990, Mary passed her TCRG exam and became the first St. Louis Irish dancer to gain full accreditation and licensing from An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha in Ireland. In addition to directing the Clarkson School, Mary holds a dual degree in deaf and elementary education from Fontbonne University and teaches third grade at St. Joseph School in Cottleville.
Katie Kinney Stegeman
TCRG, ADCRG - Instructor
Katie trains and directs Clarkson's award-winning ceili and choreography teams, and teaches weekday classes for our intermediate, advanced and champ dancers.
Katie studied tap, jazz, ballet and pointe before joining the Clarkson School of Irish Dance at age 11. As a young dancer, she quickly progressed to regional, national and world competition levels, representing Clarkson at the Mid-America Oireachtas, the North American Nationals and the All Ireland Championships. After graduating from Ursuline Academy in 2001, Katie attended Dominican University in Chicago, where she continued dancing with the Rince Na Cara school. She passed her TCRG exam while still in college. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Biology-Chemistry, Katie returned to St. Louis and began teaching at Clarkson. In 2014, Katie passed her ADCRG (Irish Dance Adjudicator's Exam) on her first attempt, becoming the first Clarkson teacher to hold both a TCRG and ADCRG.
Jenny Kelahan Kaatmann
TCRG, ADCRG - Instructor
Jenny teaches our beginner, intermediate, advanced and champ level classes, and provides private lessons to students training for competition.
Jenny began her dance training at age 4, starting with
ballet, tap, jazz and later, gymnastics. When she was 12, Jenny's parents (especially her dad!) encouraged her to try Irish dance at the Graham School (which later merged with Clarkson). During her ten-year competition career with Graham, Jenny achieved top five placing at the Mid-America Oireachtas, qualified for the World Championships three times, competed in the All-Ireland Champion-ships and finished 11th at the North American Nationals. Jenny continued to compete while studying for her bachelor's degree in Occupational Science at St. Louis University. In 2007, while working toward her master's degree, Jenny passed the TCRG exam on her first try. She passed her ADCRG exam in 2015, making Clarkson the only Irish dance studio in St. Louis with two ADCRG adjudicators on staff.
Padraic "Paddy" Hennessey
TCRG - Instructor
Paddy is the newest addition to our Clarkson teaching staff, where he assists with teaching ceili teams and set dance classes for intermediate through champ level dancers. Paddy also provides private lessons and a weekly class for our male dancers.
Paddy began his Irish Dance career in 2001 at the Richens-Timm Academy in Indianapolis. In 2003, he moved to St. Louis, where he joined the Clarkson School of Irish Dance at the recommendation of his former instructor. During his decorated competitive career, Paddy placed regularly at the Mid-America Oireachtas in both solo and team dancing, and qualified and competed at the North American Irish Dance Championships (NAIDC) and CLRG World Championships. Paddy placed third at the Mid-America Oireachtas, qualified for Worlds four times, and represented Clarkson at the prestigious CLRG All Ireland Championships. In 2014, Paddy retired from competing to study Biology at Missouri S&T. Over the years, Paddy has performed on-stage with popular Irish musical groups Gaelic Storm, The Elders, and The Celts. Paddy is also an Eagle Scout.
In 2023, Paddy passed his TCRG exam, making Clarkson the first and only Irish dance school in St. Louis to have a permanent, CLRG-certified male instructor on staff. Welcome Paddy!