Our class schedule varies somewhat due to our céilí series schedule, performances, and other events. If you’re not already a “regular”, the best tip we can give you is to call our instructor, Catherine Bishop, at 601-720-5034 before you come to your first class. She’ll give you the updated schedule and can answer any questions. But here are answers to some FAQs:
When are they? Subject to schedule changes, classes are currently offered most Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Depending on interest, another class from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. is sometimes also offered. Check our Calendar page for details!
Where are they? Classes are at the Ballet Mississippi studio, in the Mississippi Arts Center at 201 East Pascagoula Street in downtown Jackson. The best parking is in a small lot between the Arts Center and Thalia Mara Hall (enter the lot from Pascagoula Street just past the Arts Center, and then walk into the building via the back entrance under the awning).
How much? $10 per person per class; and note that you also will need to join JID to attend classes. Your annual membership fee serves as a registration fee and supports all that we do. An annual membership is $25 for a family (required if your dancer is under 18) or $15 for an individual. Memberships start September 1 of each year, so if you join between March 1 and August 31, a membership is half price. Membership forms are available at this link.
Who should come? To join our classes, you don’t need to have any Irish dance experience, and you don’t need a partner. We accept students starting at age 6, and our group includes all ages from 6 to none of your business.
Who is the teacher? Our performance director and principal instructor is Catherine Bishop, MFA, TCRG. The “TCRG” certification means that Catherine has been qualified based on a rigorous exam to teach traditional Irish solo and group dances by the Dublin-based Irish Dance Commission. She also has MFAs in dance (ballet and ethnochoreology, the anthropology of traditional Irish dance) from SMU and from the University of Limerick, Ireland, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar. Other members of JID with teaching experience sometimes help out as well. And, from time to time, we offer workshops or master classes with visiting instructors.
What can I expect? As is traditional, Irish dance classes are taught using a kind of “one-room schoolhouse” model. You’ll join a class with dancers of all ages (age 6 to adult) and varying skill levels. Each student or group will work on material appropriate for their experience level during the course of the class, so you’ll get individual attention from the instructor as well as time to practice on your own. All dancers begin with soft-shoe dances and can progress to heavy-shoe dances as they gain experience. Classes mainly focus on solo dancing, but may also include group (céilí) dances depending on interest and the composition of the group. If you’re primarily interested in group dancing, however, the solo dancing will teach you footwork and some of basic choreography that is used in group dancing, so it’s a good place to begin either way. It’s a great workout, a fun way to meet some people you otherwise wouldn’t, and will also give you some background information about the rich history of Irish dancing.
What should I wear? Wear comfortable clothes that you can move around in, and clean, smooth-soled shoes (a ballet shoe, a smooth-soled lace-up, shoe, etc.). Because street shoes can trap grit and pebbles that scratch the dance floor, you should have a pair that you dedicate to Irish dancing and carry in with you, rather than wearing them outside. Irish dancing is high-impact, so shoes with some support may help! If you don’t have a smooth-soled shoe, a clean pair of sneakers or even just socks will work for a first class or two. If you decide you enjoy this, we can give you information on where to buy ghillies (soft-soled Irish dance shoes for ladies) or pumps (men’s soft shoes) and, as you progress, heavy shoes (made with fiberglass or resin tips and heels that make noise; these are for more advanced dancing).
What to bring? Bring your completed membership form (PDF), your membership fee (cash or check payable to Jackson Irish Dancers), a completed release form for each dancer (required by our insurance), and your $10 fee per class (cash is preferred). Also, bring some water to drink if you wish. We look forward to seeing you!
What else? Irish dancing is fun for all ages; and it’s also high-energy and high-impact. As with any new fitness activity, you are encouraged to check with your doctor before beginning if you have any special health concerns. We will request that you complete a release form before beginning.
More about the Mostly Monthly Céilí Series
Jackson Irish Dancers, together with Fenian’s Irish Pub and the Celtic Heritage Society, sponsors the Mostly Monthly Céilí series most months out of the year. We take December off to enjoy the holiday season. But, the rest of the year, you’ll typically find us at Fenian’s Irish Pub one Sunday afternoon per month.
What’s a céilí? Céilí (pronounced “KAY-lee”) is Irish Gaelic for “gathering”, but it usually means “gathering with dancing and music”. Our definition is that it’s good old-fashioned fun. Some months are crowded, raucous affairs, while others are quiet opportunities to learn some dancing in a relaxed setting. Sometimes our friendly local musicians join in to play live music or sing a song or three, and other times we get along with some CDs. Either way, we’ve never known a céilí not to be a great time!
What does it cost? The Mostly Monthly Céilí series is FREE, thanks to the generosity of Fenian’s and their great staff. We pass the hat for donations, which help support JID. The bar is open and Fenian’s provides a special céilí menu, so there’s music, food, drink, and dancing – all the important things in life!
Who should come? Everyone! If you play or sing traditional Irish music, you’re very welcome, as are all dancers, regardless of experience – we’ll walk through the dances before doing them – so bring the kids, grandma, your dancing shoes, your fiddle or whistle, and your favorite new tune, and come on out. These events are family-friendly and non-smoking, and although we encourage everyone to give it a try, you don’t have to dance – it’s also fun to watch!
When are the céilís? From 2 pm to 5 pm, and usually the third Sunday of the month (except December), but the schedule varies – we’re not all that formal about much of anything. Check our Calendar page and http://www.fenianspub.com for more information, and come join us!.