The Shamrock Dancers are based at St Clare’s Parish Hall and St Anthony’s Annexe, Fulwood, Preston.
The dance school is lead by Jacqueline Drain, T.C.R.G., an experienced qualified Teacher registered with An Coimisun le Rinci Gaelacha – the largest governing body in Irish Dancing.
Jacqueline has recently been joined by her former pupil, Catherine Calvey, who became a qualified T.C.R.G in December 2012.
The school has been running in Preston for over 30 years, teaching Traditional Irish Step and Ceili dances.
New dancers will begin by learning a light shoe dance called the Reel. They will progress through all the light shoe dances (Light Jig, Hop Jig, Slip Jig) and then move on to the Heavy Shoe. Heavy shoe dances include Heavy Jig, Hornpipe, and Traditional Set Dances. Once you have all the beginner dances under your belt, steps will become increasingly more complex as you build on the basics which you have learnt.
Many of our dancers regularly compete in competitions, which are know as Feisanna or Feis (pronounced “fesh”).
As soon as you have the learnt the Beginner Reel and Light Jig, you will be eligible to dance at the local Feis in the Novice Grade. When you win your dance in Novice, you will move up a grade to Primary, then to Intermediate and finally Open. Open standard is the highest standard on offer in Irish Dancing. Dancers compete in age groups depending on the year they were born, so currently everyone who was born in the year 2000 would compete against each other in the Under 14s, everyone in 2001 would be Under 13 and so on.
As well as local Feis, there are also national competitions known as Oireachtas. Some of these include the Great Britain Championships, the British Nationals, the All Irelands and the All Scotland Championships. There are no specific requirements to enter these competitions but it is recommended that you have at least one light and one heavy dance in the Open grade before you enter. These competitions are held in huge theatres and auditoriums with several hundred spectators, and dancers of the highest level compete to become Champions.
The greatest accolade in Irish Dancing is the World Championships. In order to compete at the Worlds, you must first qualify at your regional qualifying event. In recent years, the Worlds have been held in Belfast (2008), Philadelphia (2009), Glasgow (2010), Dublin (2011), and Boston (2013). This year, the Worlds were held for the first time in England, taking place in London and next year they will be in Canada.
The dancers are also heavily involved in exhibition dancing for both charity events and private functions.
Over the years, the school has raised thousands of pounds for charities such as The Christie Hospital and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.