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 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 six 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 Kellehan Kaatmann
TCRG, ADCRG - Instructor
Jenny teaches our Monday beginner, intermediate and advanced 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 dancing 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 adjudicators on staff.
Helen Hillis, TCRG
Helen is a former champion Clarkson dancer and the newest addition to our teaching staff.
Helen represented Clarkson at the regional, national and world competition levels before graduating from Visitation Academy and moving to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University, where she received a double degree in Spanish and International Affairs, and studied abroad at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. After graduating, Helen joined Teach for America, a national non-profit that trains and places young educators in high-need schools. Her first assignment took her south, to Atlanta, Georgia, where she taught Spanish at Purpose Built Schools, Atlanta and Irish dance at the Burke Connolly Academy of Irish Dance. During that time, Helen also completed and received her Master's degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University.
Helen recently returned to Missouri to serve as a manager of Teacher Leadership and Development for Teach for America. We are thrilled to have her back in St. Louis to mentor and and train a new generation of Clarkson Irish dancers!
Check out this stltoday.com story from Helen's