WHAT IS SEAN-NOS DANCE? and HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OLD STYLE STEP DANCE? 

Shannon Dunne Dance offers classes in both sean-nos dance and old style step dance.  

Sean-nos dance is a battering style step dance, that is improvised to live music.  Both musician and dancer, sean-nos dancers learn rhythmic components (like rhythm phrases), and use those building blocks to create freely in the moment as they hear it in the tune.   Sean-nos dancers work on developing an ear for the nuances in tunes, and drill rhythmic components.   Dancers are encouraged to develop their own style, and are free to move their arms to aid in their performance.  

Old style step is the predecessor for modern Irish step dance (sometimes referred to as the "competition style" and popularized by the show Riverdance).   Dancers learn 8- bar, choreographed steps (like rhythm/movement sentences), and dance those steps on the right and left foot.   Dancers may improvise with their steps, always dancing a step on the right and left before moving on to the next.  They may also do "set dances" which are a specific series of steps, danced in a particular order, to a particular tune.   Dancers are expected to keep their arms/body straight, and execute with a particular style.

DO YOUR STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN PERFORMANCES? 

There are 3 performance opportunities:   open classes at the end of each semester, the competition/exhibition in the spring (in lieu of a recital), and outreach performances with the Performance Group (festivals, shows, etc in the greater DC/MD/VA area).

Each semester has an open class on the last day, where parents, friends and family are welcome to watch and participate in our class!

In the Spring, we culminate with a half day festival!   Traditionally, sean-nos dancing is a solo, improvised performance.  So in lieu of a recital we have a multi-generational community competition/exhibition, modeled after the festivals in Ireland.   It's a half-day event at McGinty's pub in Silver Spring.   Dancers of all ages get up and either choose to compete or exhibit.  (compete or just dance for fun to show their steps).  

Everyone is recognized for their sharing (dancing an improvised solo in front of your community is no small feat!), and we recognize dancers in each age group that show important aspects of sean-nos dancing : timing, musicality, variation, and style.  As well, we choose 1 best-overall dancer in each age bracket.

The amazing sean-nos singer and Irish speaker Maureen uiCheide (originally from Connemara, living in Boston) comes down as our guest judge and emcee.  

At the break we call social dances, and some of the classes sing a song.   After the break is the duets competition which follows the same format.

Students who wish to participate in shows and festivals should talk to Shannon about the performance group.  

WHAT DO I NEED TO WEAR/BRING? 

Appropriate shoes, comfy clothing (layer) and a water bottle.

Dancers should wear hard soled shoes (leather soles, hard rubber, or plastic).  

We recommend Dance Class Clogging Oxfords. 

No taps.

DO YOU OFFER TRIAL CLASSES? 

Yes , in the following manner:  Students are required to register before class begins (online).  The student has a grace period of 3 weeks to decide if the class is right for them.   If the student decides to drop the class, a refund is given less the cost of 1 class.  After the 3 week grace period, dropped classes receive a credit to be used for any SDD instruction or merchandise.

DO YOU ACCEPT STUDENTS AFTER THE SESSION HAS STARTED?

Students may register for up to 3 weeks after the start of class.  After that time, acceptance is on a case by case basis (things like class size, material covered, etc are factors).

IF I REGISTER AFTER THE SESSION STARTS, IS CLASS PRORATED? 

Yes, with the exception of the performance classes.

ARE PARENTS ALLOWED TO COME TO CLASS/OBSERVE? 

No.   However, if after the first 3 weeks of class a parent would like to volunteer in the classroom they are more than welcome! They will be given a job depending on the needs of the teacher (i.e. model behavior, photograph, participate, etc) in the classroom during their time there.  This ensures the best learning environment for the children.  

DO YOU HAVE A RECITAL? 

It is not appropriate to our tradition to have a dance recital, and so we have created 3 fun, family friendly gatherings in which dancers can share their steps with each other and their community!

FALL :  Open classes the last day of the session.   This is an opportunity for family and friends to see what we do, and learn a thing or two with us!  

WINTER: Halfway to MAD week ceili.  A family-friendly event with called dances and live music, where everyone has an opportunity to participate.

SPRING:  The Annual Silver Spring Sean-nos Competition/Exhibition.   This is an AMAZING family event, with solo and duet performances by all ages, social dancing, and more.  

WHAT ABOUT PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES AT IRISH FESTIVALS?

SDD Community dancers perform traditional sean-nos as part of group improvisations at festivals.   Interested dancers should contact Shannon at shannon@shannondunnedance.com.   Soloists and are not required to know any choreography.

Starting at age 7, students have an option to join an outreach performance group.  Someone once said it was like what a "travel team" is to "rec soccer".    This group takes a performance class, in addition to regular class, to work specifically on choreography and performance skills.    See the PERFORMANCE GROUPS page for more information on performance opportunities.

WHAT IS YOUR CALENDAR/WEATHER POLICY? 

See the Calendar page for the class schedule.  

We are closed on Federal holidays, PD days, and Spring Break as determined by DCPS. 

In the event of weather, we follow DCPS.  However, in some instances Knock on Wood classes will cancel even if DCPS is in session.   Please check this website, Facebook and twitter for weather.

DO YOU OFFER MAKEUP CLASSES?

If SDD cancels class for weather, a makeup is scheduled.    Sometimes we run our of room in the schedule, and will offer other options for students to makeup.

If a student misses a class, they may request to attend a different class.  In some cases there is an appropriate makeup, in some cases there is not.   Check with the admin at info@shannondunnedance.com

WHERE ARE CLASSES HELD?

St James, 222 8th Street NE, WDC 20002   Class entrance is straight through the garden, door marked "Parish Office".  Street parking, 2 hours or zone 6.  Knock on the window and wait for someone to open the door if you arrive after class has started.

Knock on Wood, Willow Ave, Takoma, DC.  You need to look up/call Knock on Wood from the call-box and tell them you are there for class. They will buzz you in.  Street parking.   Meters, free after 6:30 pm.

SWS, 904 F St NE, WDC.   Children come as part of the Bridge Afterschool program only.  

Shannon's Home, north Silver Spring, off of Fairland Road, west of 29.   For Shannon's address, email info@shannondunnedance.com

HOW DO I KNOW WHICH CLASS IS RIGHT FOR ME? 

If it is unclear to you, simply email mailto:info@shannondunnedance.com