Jackson Irish Dancers - by Josh Haley
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 us at 601-291-3378, or email us (maggie@jacksonirishdancers.org), before you come to your first class. We can give you the updated schedule and answer any questions. But here are answers to some FAQs:

When are they?  We offer céilí and set dancing classes (social dances for a group, for ages 12 to adult), as well as solo dance classes for kids (ages 6 and up) and adults. Check our Calendar page for details on these classes – beginners are welcome! We sometimes offer classes through the Millsaps College Community Enrichment Series, so you can also check http://www.millsaps.edu/major-happenings/community-enrichment-series.php to see if we have an upcoming class.

How much? Solo dance classes are generally $10 per person, with your JID membership. Prices for céilí and set dancing classes vary depending on the format. With a very few exceptions, our classes are beginner-friendly!  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 run on a calendar year, so if you join after June 1, a membership is half price.  Membership forms are available at this link, or you can click the JOIN button above to register online.

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 12 for céilí dancing, at 6 for solo dancing, and our group includes all ages from kids 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 help out as well.  And, from time to time, we offer workshops or master classes with visiting instructors like Patrick O’Dea, Jackie O’Riley, Brían Ó hAirt, and others.

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 and varying skill levels. 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.
Jackson Irish Dancers - by Josh Haley

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, your instructor will give you information on where to buy ghillies (soft-soled Irish dance shoes for ladies) or pumps (men’s soft shoes). As you progress, you may also want to purchase heavy shoes (made with fiberglass or resin tips and heels that make noise; these are for more advanced dancing). For set dancing, any smooth-soled, securely-fitting street shoe is appropriate.

What to bring?  If you haven’t already joined JID, bring your completed membership form (PDF), your membership fee and your fee for the class (cash or check payable to Jackson Irish Dancers), plus a completed release form for each dancer (required by our insurance; if you joined online, you completed this form as part of the process).  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 periodically throughout the year (although the series is currently on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic).  Check the calendar on our website to know when we get started again!

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 the dance floor is crazy crowded but fun, while other months are quiet opportunities to learn some dancing in a relaxed setting. Often, 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 kitchen and bar are open, 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! Hope to see you on the dance floor!