Sarah Armstrong Rhodes, TCRG and owner of AIDA
Sarah Armstrong Rhodes, TCRG is the instructor at Armstrong Irish Dance Academy. She discovered Irish dance at a Celtic Festival she went to when she was twelve. She fell in love with the dance form and started taking classes recreationally. After a year, she started assisting in the studio's beginning Irish dance classes and found her passion for teaching. Sarah started teaching recreational classes through her local Parks and Recreation programs. As Sarah continued to dance, she quickly progressed to the studio's top level class and was encouraged to pursue competitive Irish dancing from her teacher. Sarah transferred to the Maple School of Irish Dance in Falls Church and was taught under the instruction of Bill Maple, ADCRG and TCRG and Marnie Maple, ADCRG and TCRG. Sarah started competing and started out in the beginner level. She quickly moved up the levels and was competing in the Preliminary Championship level after 2 years of competing.
Sarah eventually transferred to the Teelin School of Irish Dance in Columbia, MD, under the instruction of Maureen Berry, TCRG. Sarah has competed at the Southern Region Oireachtas and many local feisanna.
In 2014, Sarah started studying to take her TCRG examination - a process in becoming a certified teacher with the CLRG (the Irish dance commission) - and sat her exam in September 2015. In December, she received her results and her dream of becoming a TCRG came true - she had passed the exam. She is fully vetted according to CLRG policy : https://www.clrg.ie/index.php/en/vetting.html
In April 2016, with a new baby 3 months old, Sarah pursued her dream and opened her own dance school, bringing a certified Irish dance school to Winchester.
When she isn't teaching, Sarah enjoys being a mom to her two girls, Eden and Hazel, and spending time with her husband, Nate (who owns Hopscotch Coffee&Records here in Winchester!), gardening, knitting, sewing, and being outside. She has 2 dogs, Rufus (who is a big goofball), and Sun-Ra (who is a little goofball). She loves to inspire others to find their dream - be it opening a business, starting a community garden, helping a new mom learn to babywear, or make a new goal for themselves. One day Sarah hopes to be part of the birth community, be it a doula or lactation consultant.
Sarah's goal is to help mold students into dancers who have humility, dedication, tenacity, and a true passion for this unique dance form in hope to one day present them for competition. She truly believes that dance helps better each child into confident, graceful adults. Sarah's role model is Fred Rogers and thinks of him quite a bit when teaching. She believes strongly that we all are responsible for our children's future by helping continue his legacy - the legacy that all children need to be treated with respect, love, and care.
"The thing I remember best about successful people I've met through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing, and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others."
- Fred Rogers
photos from bio by Purple Fern Photography
Lorri Johnson, assistant teacher at AIDA
Lorri Johnson found her love for Irish dance at age 8. At 13 she began dancing in earnest with Celtic Rhythm School of Dance. There, she performed contemporary pieces of choreography with the school’s Company. Her time at Celtic Rhythm also awarded opportunities to learn about the Irish language and to participate in master classes with Riverdance’s Colin Dunne.
Before long, Lorri was assisting with classes. Her passion for teaching began around the same age as her passion for Irish dance. She has taught dance at her local community center and at Dance and Company, in Harrisonburg, VA. As a teacher, she choreographed contemporary pieces for the stage.
In her senior year of college, Lorri was given the opportunity to join the O’Neill James School of Irish Dancing in Falls Church, VA under the instruction of Lauren O’Neill James, TCRG. There, she placed in every competition she entered as a solo dancer. She also participated with the figure team. She competed in ceili dances and a figure dance at the Southern Region Oireachtas. Her time as a competitive dancer was cut short as she entered college.
Lorri earned a Masters of Arts in Education and was an elementary school teacher until her daughter was born. Her passion for education remains and she pursues it by homeschooling her daughter, tutoring, and providing evaluation services for homeschooling families.
Lorri returned to Irish Dance when she discovered Armstrong Irish Dance Academy (AIDA) under the instruction of Sarah Armstrong Rhodes, TCRG. Dancing at AIDA is allowing Lorri’s dreams as a child come to fruition. She began competing again and attended the Southern Region Oireachtas as a solo dancer. She is now studying for her grade exams so she may earn her TCRG.