Dancers in the Connacht Program are strongly encouraged to attend practice twice a week to encourage skill development, but there is an option to attend once a week at this stage. Classes are 60 minutes in length to allow students to continue to develop attention and focus. New beginner students ages 7 and up, or beginner students who have graduated from the Ulster program may participate in these classes and enrollment is open year-round.
Dancers learn or review their jig and reel in this class and start to dance independently from their teacher. Students are then introduced to the softshoe slip jig, and in January dancers start learning hardshoe moves (similar to tap dancing) to prepare them for the treble jig.
In this program students learn the names of the four provinces in Ireland, as well as how to say ‘hello my name is’ in the Irish language. Students are encouraged to take their Preliminary-level grade exam and attend their first competition at this level, both of which are always optional. Grade exams will be held once or twice each year and all students will receive a certificate of achievement from an adjudicator. Note that grade exam fees are billed separately from tuition, and competitions also charge a registration fee. Students normally graduate from the Connacht program after one year.
Class attire includes a school or Irish dance-themed shirt, black, blue or grey shorts or skort and white or black dance socks. Clean running shoes may be worn for the first month of class, and students are asked to purchase irish dance soft shoes for girls or black jazz shoes for boys in their second month of classes. In January, students are fit with hard shoes to start learning hardshoe rhythms. The school keeps a stock of shoes for fittings. Our shoe coordinator will reach out to fit your child, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a fitting.
Students are encouraged to purchase a beginner school costume at this level. OIDC school costumes are reused from year to year unlike other dance forms which require different costumes to be purchased each year. The school offers new and lightly used costumes for resale to keep costs as low as possible.
Uniform fees cover two school T-Shirts, a school journal, and three pairs of dance socks. Journals will be used to write out dance corrections, record home practice and to make other notes. Students are required to bring their journals to each class. We recommend that students place their names on their journals, water bottles and shoes to avoid mix ups.