Theatre

Deck the Halls, Irish Style

Kelly School of Irish Dance rings in the holidays with traditional step dancing

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In 2016, the Coventry-based Kelly School of Irish Dance (KSID) will celebrate ten sparkling years of Irish step dance classes. As the school gears up for its annual holiday show, founder Meghan Kelly, also known as “Miss Meghan,” took a moment to speak with us about the group’s history and the international dance competitions they have lined up for 2016.

Meghan grew up with all four grandparents of Irish heritage. As a child, she wanted to be a ballerina, but her culturally-minded parents insisted on Irish dance lessons. It turned into a real passion for her and in college, Meghan started casually teaching at her local Irish dance hall before finally opening her own studio in Coventry in 2011. Meghan’s sister, Kathleen, also teaches dance at KSID, and their students range from as young as three years old to “grandparent-aged.”

“Part of KSID’s motto has always been ‘Smile, Sparkle, Shine,’” shares Meghan. “We want kids and dancers to have inner confidence in what they’re doing – to be unique, proud and to shine.”

The classes are more performance-driven and less focused on competition; Meghan encourages all of her class participants to become part of a “true team of performers” and to gain confidence onstage, although certain students have begun to move into professional dance careers. Meghan notes that her very first dancer, now 16, recently traveled to Europe and competed in Germany, coming in first place out of the competition, and was accepted into a professional Irish dance camp.

In addition to the end-of-season shows in June featuring all kids as performers, the top dancers participate in a special holiday show each year. This year the show, called Merry and Bright, will take place on December 19 at Rhode Island College’s Sapinsley Hall.

“I’ve always loved Christmas and the holidays in general, so I have a lot of fun with it,” says Meghan. “It’s great to take Irish dance and put it into a holiday context – many people don’t realize how well Irish dance can lend itself to holiday tunes. It’s about more than just St. Patrick’s Day or Irish pubs.”

Meghan currently has many events lined up to celebrate KSID’s tenth year. Some students will be heading to Brighton, England in April 2016 to compete in the World Irish Dance Association (WIDA) European & World Championships. Another competition that KSID will participate in are the WIDA All Irelands in Belfast, Northern Ireland in June, while others will head to Disney World to dance in the fall.