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Some Basics


What is Irish Dancing?

  • Irish Dancing is the type of dancing most commonly seen on Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Although those are performance troupes and the use of their arms and costume styles vary greatly from traditional Irish dancing, the basic form is still the same.


Do I need to have a certain body type for Irish dancing?

  • Absolutely not - this is why most love this dance form. It does not exclude any body type, gender, skin color, hair color, social group, etc. It is a very multicultural form of dance that has modest costumes/dance moves that is loved by many different types of people.


What if I am an adult?

  • AIDA is proud to offer adult classes at this time: One class for Intermediate adult dancers and one for Beginner adult dancers. See our CLASSES page for more info.


Does my dancer have to practice outside of class? 

  • If your dancer would like to progress to their full potential, then yes. Progress cannot happen without effort. If you have any questions as to how much your dancer should be practicing outside of class, ask Sarah.


Do you have practice videos?

  • Yes and AIDA strongly encourages dancers to practice with them during the week! AIDA's youtube channel is private and you will need to have the link in order to get in. You will receive this link when you register for classes. Please do not share this link with anyone as AIDA owns the rights to these steps, under the authority of CLRG. Every dance school owns their own steps as they are choreographed by that school's TCRG. (This is why there is a strict no-videotaping policy at competitions).


What is CLRG?

  • CLRG stands for An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, which is the Commission of Irish Dancing. They are the authority all ADCRGs, TCRGs, and TMRFs are under.


What is ADCRG, TCRG, and TMRF? 

  • ADCRG stands for Ard Diploma Coimisiuin le Rinci Gaelacha, which means Certified Irish Dance Adjudicator. An ADCRG is who judges an Irish dance competion, which is called a feis. TCRG stands for Teagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha, which is an Irish dance teacher who is certified by CLRG. A TMRF is a CLRG certified ceili teacher - this teacher can only submit dancers for ceili (or group) dancing at competitions. Unlike a TCRG who can submit both ceili and solo dancers at competitions.


May I observe my child's class at AIDA?

  • There is a waiting room at AIDA for family members. While Sarah likes to be transparent in teaching her classes, we do ask that distraction is kept to a minimum so your dancers can focus. Please do not enter the dance floor space unless using the restroom on the other side. Thank you for understanding that AIDA and Sarah have your child's best interest in mind.

When do classes break for summer? What holidays does AIDA observe?

  • Since AIDA is a competitive school and most competitions take place during the summer, AIDA does not follow a typical school year. Most summers, AIDA takes off one week for summer break and starts classes for the "new school year" around the 3rd week of August. If any AIDA families wish to take a typical summer break, simply inform Sarah and she will put a hold on your account. A 30 days' notice to any change in registration is required and is the only commitment expected at AIDA. 




Do I have to compete if I register with AIDA?

  • Of course not! Recreational students are always welcome. Sarah's classes focus on technique and proper training of Irish dance, so even if a student does not wish to compete, they can still be sure they are receiving proper training under the authority of CLRG.

  • Competing dancers represent AIDA and will be expected to practice outside of class, treat fellow dancers with respect and kindness, and dance their best in class and at competitions. AIDA will not tolerate disrespect in the classroom or at competitions. It is very important for parents and dancers to represent their family at AIDA well at all times.Please be aware with competing comes additional competition fees. Those competing are strongly encouraged to attend 2 classes a week. Parents should always inform Sarah of any feisanna they register their dancer for. Any questions on competitions, please contact Sarah.


What is a feis? 

  • A feis is an Irish dance competition. It is pronounced [FESH]. The plural of feis is not feises, but feisanna - which is pronounced [fesh-AH-nuh]. A feis is a local competition.


How do I sign up for a feis?

  • First, students at AIDA need to be invited to compete by Sarah. After that, a dancer can register for any feis they like through 4 websites: FeisworxFeisweb, Quickfeis, and Efeis.

  • Parents can register their dancers for feisanna at the following websites:


When do local feisanna take place?

  • Various Irish dance schools or organizations host feisanna. Most feisanna just happen to take place in the summer. This is why AIDA does not break for summer. Most competitions occur on Saturdays or Sundays.

Learn more about feisanna here


Are there other competitions?

  • Yes. A feis is a local competion, unlike the regional competition called Oireachtas. This is pronounced [uh-ROCK-tis]. There are 5 regions in the US in Irish Dancing - Mid American, Mid Atlantic, New England, Southern, and Western. We are in the southern region, so AIDA dancers would attend the Southern Region Oireachtas. Besides regional competitions, there are national competitions. At the top level of competitions is the World Championships. Competitions occur every year. The Oireachtas takes place in any of the southern states and local feisanna are held by a local Irish dance school or organization, such as an Irish cultural organization. For example, O'Connor School of Irish Dance may host a feis in Baltimore MD and could call the feis "The O'Connor feis". 


Competing on a Sunday is a problem for me and my family due to religious reasons - is that a problem?

  • Not at all, and AIDA respects your family's reasons! You would simply not sign up for a feis if it took place on a Sunday.




What dance shoes do I need?

  • Irish dancing has 2 types of shoes. Softshoes (also called ghillies) and hardshoes (also called heavy shoes or jig shoes). Softshoes are made of black leather and have an intriciate lacing system. They look similar to the shoes dancers where in Scottish Highland Dancing. Hardshoes are also made of leather but have a hard tip and heel piece - both made of fiberglass. It is very important to never wear your shoes outside on concrete or pavement as it can scratch the leather and damage the fiberglass (walking is fine, but dancing on these surfaces can harm the shoes).

Where do I buy the shoes?

  • Just like street shoe brands, you can buy used or new. Each dance shoe brand has different things to offer - some run narrow, some run wide, some are cheaper than others, some are top-of-the-line.

  • AIDA recommends Fay's Shoes for narrow feet and Rutherford Shoes for average and wide feet. If you would like to buy shoes secondhand, Voy Shoe Exchange is a forum for secondhand shoes. Please do not purchase shoes from Amazon or Ebay unless Sarah has approved them. Most shoes sold on Amazon are unfortunately cheaply made and are not legitimate Irish dance shoes.


What does my dancer wear to class?

  • Athletic clothes. All dancers must have their knees and ankles visible at all times during class. Long pants can be worn into class, but must be removed by the start of class. Tights or form-fitting leggings are acceptable, but baggy pants are not. Please refrain from wearing distracting jewelry. Please bring a water bottle into class. Every AIDA dancer needs to bring a dance notebook into class to write down their steps. It is very important to have this step notation to practice with during the week.


Where do I get a costume?

  • Beginning levels can compete in simple pleated skirts (similar to a kilt) and a white button-up blouse. Likewise, a jumper would also be acceptable. For gents, dark trousers and a collared shirt (vest optional) are acceptable. Think Catholic school uniform. When ready, lady dancers may purchase the AIDA school dress. A school jumper with AIDA's logo will also be available to purchase as a cheaper alternative to the school dress. Once in the Prizewinner level, a student is welcome to purchase their first solo dress. A solo dress is a big investment and is a unique dress designed to help the dancer stand out among the other competitors. Every solo dress should be approved by Sarah before purchasing. Solo dresses can cost anywhere from $400 used to over $3000 for a custom made dress. Please discuss any concerns regarding costumes with Sarah. She is happy to help your family find the best costume option for you. Competitive Irish dancing does not need to break the bank. For our gentlemen dancers, a unique vest can be made to help him stand out. Vests can cost anywhere from $50-$500 for a custom made vest.


Do I have to wear a wig?

  • Absolutely not. AIDA does not enforce any hair piece to be worn unless a team competes in ceili dancing, in which case dancers will need to match and look unified. Wigs are optional. Please discuss the purchase of any hairpiece for competions with Sarah before buying. AIDA encourages our dancers to remember the traditional aspect of Irish dancing and will support natural hair or a hairpiece - whatever the dancer decides.


I've seen made-up girls on stage before and am not sure I want my little girl to wear so much makeup and glitz...

  • That's not a problem. In fact, CLRG rules state that no dancer in the first 2 grades is to wear makeup, including any dancer up to and including the under 12 age group worldwide. In addition, no dancer in either solo or ceili competitions is to wear makeup (including false eyelashes and tanner) up to and including the under 10 age group. AIDA will always support the natural beauty of each individual dancer. If makeup is worn, AIDA would prefer and appreciate that it be subtle and natural.

Helpful Links

CLRG Website


IDTANA Southern Regions Website


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