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McConnell Irish Dancers

Established in 1947        80 Years of Irish Dance        3 Generations OF IRISH DANCE TRADITION       MANITOBA'S LARGEST IRISH DANCE SCHOOL 

McConnell School of Dance - Recreational Division

Students who wish to simply enjoy the basics of Irish dance should consider our Recreational Division.  This program is ideal for beginners, those new to Irish dance, and for students who are involved in other activities. 

  • The Recreational Division Season extends from September – May (9 months) with optional summer classes for Folklorama in June and July.
  • General Division dancers learn both traditional and modern styles of Irish dance.   General dancers have the option to take one class per week or attend multiple lessons (we recommend a competitive class as a 2nd option for improving technique).
  • General Division Students perform at our St. Patrick’s Fest, Year End Recital, and at Folklorama.

 

Recreational Division Levels

Which Level Is the Best For You?

Recreational levels are based on dancer's ages and in most cases the best choice for students is to enrol in the class within their age category.  There are always exceptions and our aim is to find the best class for dancers to learn and progress with Irish dance, regardless of age or experience.

For dancer's who are starting at an older age than our typical Beginner (Ages 3 - 6) there are options to insure they are able to keep up with dancer's who've already had previous Irish dance experience. 

  • The best option for new Irish dancers to quickly pick up on the basics of Irish dance is to take a few private lessons with our instructors. 
  • A Competitive Bunghrád - Level 1 class is an option for dancers wishing to speed up the process of learning the basics.  Competitive classes may be attended on drop-in basis.
  • Teacher's assistants are always available to work with new students during class time to help bring them up to speed on the basics.  
  • For dancer's who register for a level and find it's not the right fit for them, there is always the option to try another level or Division to find the most appropriate class.

 

Beginner

  • Ages 3 - 6

This level may be appropriate for students 2 1/2 if they are capable of participating in the class without an accompanying parent without assistance from their parents.  
Beginner students learn the basics of soft-shoe Irish dancing starting with the Beginner (Bunghrád - Level 1) Reel and progress to the Light Jig (3 steps).  Once the Reel & Light Jig are mastered, Beginner dancers will learn the Bunghrád Single Jig and Slip Jig.  Student's also learn an Irish children's song and dance. Warm up, stretching and technique is included in the lesson.  Focus is on developing soft shoe technique and progressing towards hard shoe work.  
Novice

  • Ages 7 - 8

Novice Level students learn Irish soft-shoe steps the Bunghrád - Level 1 & Ullmhuchán or Level 2 Reel, Bunghrád Light Jig (5 Steps), Single Jig, and Slip Jig.  Novice dancers also learn their first Ceili dance (group dance with figures).  Novice dancers begin hard shoe training which extends through one half the lesson and learn the Ullmhuchán Hornpipe. Warm up and technique is included in the class.
Preliminary

  • Ages 9 - 12

Preliminary Level students learn Irish soft-shoe steps with the Ullmhuchán - Level 2 Reel, Single Jig, and Slip Jig.  Preliminary dancers learn a Ceili dance (group dance with figures and choreography).  Preliminary dancers continue hard shoe training, extending through one half the lesson and learn an Ullmhuchán Hornpipe, Heavy Jig, and a Traditional Set Dance. Warm up and technique is included in the class.
Intermediate

  • Ages 13 & Up

Intermediate Level students continue with more difficult soft-shoe work in the Meanghràd - Level 2 Reel, Single Jig, and Slip Jig.  Intermediate dancers learn a Ceili dance (group dance with figures and choreography).  Intermediate dancers continue hard shoe training, extending through one half the lesson and learn the Meanghrád Hornpipe, Heavy Jig, Treble Reel and Traditional Set Dance. Warm up and technique is included in the class. 

Advanced

  • Ages 14 & Up

Advanced Level students continue with more difficult soft-shoe work in the Meanghràd - Level 2 Reel & Ardghrád Level 4 Reel, Single Jig, and Slip Jig.  Advanced dancers learn a Ceili dance (group dance with figures and choreography).  Advanced dancers continue hard shoe training, extending through one half the lesson and learn the Ardghrád Hornpipe, Heavy Jig, Traditional or Contemporary Set Dance, or Treble Reel.  Warm up and technique is included in the class. 

Adult 

  • Ages 18 & Up

Adult classes range in level from Beginner to Intermediate and are suitable for dancers with no previous dance experience or some dance in their background.  Dancers who've had substantial amounts of dance in their background may want to consider a Competitive Class or our Advanced Level Recreational Class.  Adult dancers have the opportunity to learn Bunghrád Level 1 - Ardghrád Level 4 dances. Adult students learn both soft shoe and hard shoe in the class.  Dancers also learn a Ceili (group dance wih figures).  Warm up and technique is included in the class. 

 

 Class Information
  • Studio is open 15 minutes prior to classes to allow dancers to get changed for class. Please try to arrive on time and don't miss the warm-up as it's important for technique & injury prevention.
  • Parking is available in the 4 spots in front of the studio and on the street.  Please avoid parking in the spots designated for other businesses in the lot.
  • The waiting room is available for parents who wish to stay for the duration of their dancer's class.  Space is limited so please allow space for other's.  Please keep the waiting room a positive environment and avoid discussions which may be considered negative, controversial or upsetting to a healthy learning environment for our dancers.
  • Only dancers allowed in the change rooms, for privacy reasons.  
  • Please do not enter the studio once classes have began.  Dancers, please knock if you are late for class.  Parents, please do not enter the studio, at anytime unless invited.
  • Viewing windows are located in our Winnipeg Studios A & B.  Please limit time at the viewing window so you do not distract your dancer from learning. If your child is being distracted by your viewing instructors may ask you to avoid the window or the blind will be closed.
  • Classes 1.5 hrs. and longer will receive a 5 minute break during their lesson.  Dancers are welcome to bring snacks from home. Please try to avoid snacks with peanuts.
  • Dancers are to remain in the rehearsal studio unless excused by the class instructor. Parents, friends, and family members are not allowed in the dance studio.
  • Dancers are to be dressed in appropriate dance attire. Please see dress code below.
  • Only dance shoes, dance bags, purses / wallets, and water bottles may be brought into the studio (no food or outerwear).  Please bring all necessary items in to class with you at the beginning of class.  Do not leave valuables in the change room.
  • No cellular phones, games, laptops, cameras, video cameras, iPods, or books allowed in rehearsal studio. Please speak with your instructor if you would like to video tape steps
  • Our studio is located close to major shopping centres.  Parents may leave the studio once children have begun their lesson.  Parents who's children are unable to use the restroom themselves should remain at the studio.
  • Please to arrive on time for pick-up.  Additional charges may apply for dancers who delay instructors departure time.
  • Respectful, positive attitude towards instructors and fellow dancers must be demonstrated by dancers and their parents at all times.  Dancers or parents who exhibit negative behaviour towards instructors, other students, or parents will be asked to leave the school.
  • Instructors are not available to meet with dancers or parents during class hours.  Please do not disturb instructors during class time & be aware your instructor may have another class to teach after yours. Serious issues should be dealt with immediately after the class.  

Recreational Division Performances
As part of your registration for Irish Dance lessons in our Recreational Division, McConnell School of Dance provides the opportunity for all dancers to perform at our St. Patrick's Fest', at our year end Recital, and at Folklorama (United Kingdom Pavilion)
  1. St. Patrick's Fest' (March 17th, 2019)
  2. Recital (June 1st, 2019)
  3. Folklorama (August 4th - 10th, 2019)

Performance Expectations
1. St Patrick's Fest - March 17th, 2019
  • Beginner - 1st - 2nd year (Reel &/or Light Jig)
  • Beginner - 2nd - 3rd year (Reel & Light / Single, or Slip Jig)
  • Novice - 1st - 2nd year (Reel, Light / Single / or Slip & Ceili)
  • Novice - 2nd - 3rd year (Reel, Light / Single / or Slip  &Ceili)
  • Preliminary - 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Intermediate 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Advanced - 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Adult - 1st - 2nd year (Reel &/or Light Jig, Ceili)
  • Adult 3rd year & up (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
2. Year End Recital - June 1st, 2019
  • Beginner - 1st - 2nd year (Reel &/or Light Jig, & Song)
  • Beginner - 2nd - 3rd year (Reel & Light / Single, or Slip Jig, & Song)
  • Novice - 1st - 2nd year (Reel, Light / Single / or Slip & Ceili, Song, Basic Hard Shoe)
  • Novice - 2nd - 3rd year (Reel, Light / Single / or Slip  &Ceili, Hard Shoe)
  • Preliminary - 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Intermediate 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Advanced - 1st - 3nd year (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
  • Adult - 1st - 2nd year (Reel &/or Light Jig, Ceili)
  • Adult 3rd year & up (Reel, Single or Slip, Ceili & Hardshoe)
3. Folklorama - August 4 - 10th, 2019
McConnell School of Dance Student's Association sponsors the United Kingdom Pavilion Folklorama (RBC Convention Centre) and McConnell dancers perform Irish, Welsh, and English styles of dance in the show.  Our instructors, parents, and family members volunteer their time to organize and run the various areas of the pavilion (administrative, show, bar, kitchen, cultural area, admissions, and volunteers). 
  • Recreational Division dancers wishing to perform at Folklorama take classes during the months of June & July (Tuesday evenings) and attend monthly workshops throughout the dance season. 
  • Dancers perform only their most practice dances at Folklorama as the standard is very high. 
  • Folklorama is a great experience for dancers who don't often have the opportunity to take part in a professional with live music. It's a great team building time for dancers who build life long friendships and we invite all Recreational Division dancers to take part in the festival.
 
General Rules for Performances
  • Performances include both traditional and modern style Irish dances and choreography is planned at the beginning of the season. 
  • Dancer's who do not wish to perform should inform us at the beginning of the season.  Student's will be asked to confirm their participation for performances by December.
  • Traditional Ceili dances and choreographed routines have a set number of dancers required for each dance and therefore it is important dancers confirm their commitment for the season's performances by December each season.
  • If you commit to a performance please do your best to attend.  Class time is dedicated to rehearsals and the other students and instructors are counting on your participation.  Last minute cancellations upset the routines and make it difficult for everyone in the class. 
  • Students who do not know their dances, frequently miss classes, or who fall behind on their steps may not perform all routines with their current level.  Dancers who are behind their current level should consider private lessons to assist them in catching up with their class.
  • Decisions regarding which dances a student performs are left to the discretion of the instructors and the school as it is our responsibility to consider the entire group.
  • Performance information (location, arrival & performance times, etc.) is sent out via e-mail approximately 1 week prior to all major performances.
  • Try to arrive on time for performances and allow for traffic and parking delays.
  • If you are running late, please do not speed and risk an accident.  We would rather you arrive late than injured or not at all.
  • Always arrive with your wig on, socks & tights on, and make-up applied.
  • Parents are not allowed in dressing rooms at any performance, unless they are designated as dressing room volunteers. 
  • Parents should not ask to speak with Instructors at a performance as their attention must be focused on the dancer’s performance. 
  • For school performances, all dancers will need to be checked in and out of dressing room.  Dancers under 12 will require a parent or guardian for check out.
  • Applying make-up and changing costumes in public washrooms should be avoided, if possible.
  • Be respectful of limited amounts of space in dressing rooms, especially when sharing with other performing groups.  
  • Practicing in public is considered unprofessional and dancing in lobbies, waiting rooms or hallways is not permitted (unless under the supervision of a teacher)
  • Leave dressing rooms clean after using them.  Please take garbage home with you, if refuse containers are not provided.
  • Please remember that while wearing your McConnell School of Dance attire, or costume, you are representing the entire school and appropriate and polite behaviour is expected at all times.  

 

Irish Dance Shoes

All dancers should have the required footwear for their registered level by the end of September each season.
We strongly recommend beginner students wait a few classes before they purchase Irish dance shoes in order to ascertain whether or not they intend to continue with lessons.  New students may wear socks, well fitting slippers or ballet slippers for the first few weeks of classes. 

Soft Shoes

  • Girls wear Irish Soft shoes (pumps, or ghillies)
  • Boys wear Boys Reel Shoes.  Boys begin with soft heels (Capezio Jazz shoes) and progress to Reel Shoes with Hard Shoe Heel pieces.  Your instructor will inform you when it’s time to advance to Reel Shoes with heel pieces.

Hard Shoes
Both Females and Males wear Irish Dance Hard Shoes.

MSD Shoe Requirements

  •   Beginner  Ballet Slippers or Soft Shoes
  •   Novice & Preliminary   Soft & Hard Shoes 
  •   Intermediate & Advanced   Soft & Hard Shoes
  •   Adult (All Levels)   Soft & Hard Shoes

Where To Purchase Irish Dance Shoes?​
On-Line Vendors who ship to Canada;

Locally -  Unique Ireland - Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg

Recreational Division Costumes

School costumes are required for all dancers wishing to perform. 

  • Costumes are ordered in November each season.
  • 2nd hand costumes can be purchased at our costume swap at the end of September.
  • Irish Dance Wigs are optional for all Recreational Division Dancers.

Costume Fees
General Division School costumes range in price from $125 - $350, depending on the dancers level and age.
Additional items such as poodle socks and/or tights as well as Irish dance shoes are necessary.  Irish dance wigs are optional 

Beginner $125 - $150    Novice & Preliminary $215 - $225     Intermediate & Advanced $240 - $265    Adult $125 - $265

 

2nd Hand Costumes & Shoes
Second hand costumes and shoes may be listed on the bulletin board at the studio.
McConnell School of Dance's Annual Shoe Swap -  Sept / Oct each season

MSDSA - McConnell School of Dance Student’s Association hosts an annual costume swap to assist dancers who wish to sell or purchase Irish dance shoes, costumes, and accessories.  A large selection of 2nd hand costumes, shoes, and dance supplies are available for sale.

 

Costume Frequently Asked Questions

When are costume fees due?    Costume fees are due prior to pick up of costumes.

Can I rent a school costume if I do not wish to purchase?   

  • A limited number of rental costumes are available.  Sizing is limited so please contact us early in the season to reserve.

If a dancer advances levels, do they require a new class costume?    

  • Yes, dancers who progress to higher levels will need a new class costume for their new level. 

How long will a class costume be used?   

  • Class costumes are changed every 4- 7 years to keep the designs current.  Most dancers grow out of their class costumes and are able to sell their old dress to up & coming students to help offset the cost of a new costume.
 

Winnipeg Location Costumes

Beginner Level

Females - Black Skirt, Green Vest, White Blouse, White Poodle Socks, Spankies / Dance Briefs

Required Shoes - Irish Soft Shoes or Black Ballet Slippers

  1. Black Skirt - $45

  2. Green Velvet Vest - $65

  3. Long Sleeve White Blouse - Purchased by the parent from Old Navy www.oldnavy.ca/products/girls-uniform-shirts.js

  4. White Poodle Socks - Available at the studio $12 each, order on line from Irish dance supply stores, or pick up at Unique Ireland on Pembina Hwy.

  5. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, White Shirt, Green Vest, Green Tie

Required Shoes - Irish Boys Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the parent.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the parent

  3. White Dress Shirt - Purchased by the parent

  4. Green Vest - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

  5. Green Tie - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

Novice Level

Female - New Black & Green Dress, Poodle Socks, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs.

Required shoes - Black soft shoes and Hard Shoes

  1. Black & Green Dress  - $190

  2. White Poodle Socks - Available at the studio $12 each, order on line from Irish dance supply stores, or pick up at Unique Ireland on Pembina Hwy.

  3. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, White Shirt, Green Vest, Green Tie

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. ​​Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the parent.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the parent

  3. White Dress Shirt - Purchased by the parent

  4. Black Vest - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

  5. Tie - Ordered from School Seamstress $15 Seamstress

​​

Preliminary / Intermediate / Advanced

Females - Black Sleeveless Dress, Poodle Socks, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs.

Advanced level dancers also have the option to purchase a solo dress.  All solo dresses must be approved by your teacher, prior to purchase or order.

Required shoes - Black soft shoes and Hard Shoes

  1. Black Sleeveless Dress  $240

  2. White Poodle Socks - Available at the studio $12 each, order on line from Irish dance supply stores, or pick up at Unique Ireland on Pembina Hwy.

  3. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the dancer from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, Black Shirt, Green Tie, Cummerbund &/or Vest Optional

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the dancer.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the dancer

  3. Black Dress Shirt - Purchased by the dancer

  4. Embroidered Cummerbund or Vest (optional)  -Order from school seamstress $65

Adult Levels

Females - Option 1 - Black Sleeveless Dress,  Black Tights, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs or

Option 2 -  Black Skirt, Black T-Shirt, Black Tights, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs

Advanced level dancers also have the option to purchase a solo dress.  All solo dresses must be approved by your teacher, prior to purchase or order.

Required shoes - Black soft shoes and Hard Shoes

  1. Black Sleevesless Dress  - $240

  2. Black Tights- Mondor brand, available at dance stores

  3. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, Black Shirt, Green Tie, Cummerbund &/or Vest Optional

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the dancer.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the dancer

  3. Black Dress Shirt - Purchased by the dancer

  4. Embroidered Cummerbund or Vest (optional)  -Order from school seamstress $65

 

Brandon Location Costumes
Beginner

Females - Black Skirt, Green Vest, White Blouse, White Poodle Socks, Spankies / Dance Briefs
Required Shoes - Irish Soft Shoes or Black Ballet Slippers

  1. Black Skirt - $45

  2. Green Velvet Vest - $65

  3. Long Sleeve White Blouse - Purchased by the parent from Old Navy http://www.oldnavy.ca/products/girls-uniform-shirts.jsp

  4. White Poodle Socks - Available at the studio $12 each, order on line from Irish dance supply stores, or pick up at Unique Ireland on Pembina Hwy.

  5. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, White Shirt, Green Vest, Green Tie

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the parent.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the parent

  3. White Dress Shirt - Purchased by the parent

  4. Green Vest - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

  5. Green Tie - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

Novice & Preliminary

Females - Green & Orange Dress, Poodle Socks, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs.
Required shoes - Black soft shoes and Hard Shoes

  1. Black & Green Dress  - $190

  2. White Poodle Socks - Available at the studio $12 each, order on line from Irish dance supply stores, or pick up at Unique Ireland on Pembina Hwy.

  3. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, White Shirt, Green Tie, Green Vest

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the parent.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the parent

  3. White Dress Shirt - Purchased by the parent

  4. Green Vest - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

  5. Green Tie - Ordered from School Seamstress $15 

Intermediate & Adult Levels

Females - Green & Gold Dress, Black Tights, Black Spankies / Dance Briefs
Advanced level dancers also have the option to purchase a solo dress.  All solo dresses must be approved by your teacher, prior to purchase or order.
Required shoes - Black soft shoes and Hard Shoes

  1. Black Sleeveless Dress  - $240

  2. Black Tights- Mondor brand, available at dance stores

  3. Black Spankies / Dance Briefs - A necessary item for all dancers.  Purchase by the parent from dance supply or retail outlet.

Males - Black Pants, Black Shirt, Green Tie, Cummerbund &/or Vest Optional

Required Shoes - Irish Male Soft Shoes or Jazz Shoes

  1. Black Dress Pants (preferably without pockets) - Purchased by the dancer.  Please make sure pants are hemmed to the correct length for dancing

  2. Black Dress Socks - Purchased by the dancer

  3. Black Dress Shirt - Purchased by the dancer

  4. Green Vest - Ordered from School Seamstress $65

  5. Green Tie - Ordered from School Seamstress $15 

 

Irish Dance Wigs

Irish dance wigs are optional for all Recreational  Division Students.  Many of our dancers prefer to wear Irish dance wigs for the convenience and to keep with the current styles.  

Wig Options - Pony Tail, Bun Wig, 3/4 Cap, and Full Wigs

  • Wigs are available in many different styles and shades. 
  • We recommend dancers choose a shade as close to their own as possible.
Dancers may choose any style of wig which suits them best or they are fine to wear their natural hair secured or tied back away from their face for performance
McConnell School of Dance recommends the following Wig vendors;