o'riley irish dance


Jackie founded, directs, and teaches O'Riley Irish Dance, a one-of-a-kind non-competitive Irish dance program for kids and teens, now in it's 12th year.  The classes emphasize dancing as a joyful, social activity rather than a competitive one.  Although each class addresses developing rhythm, timing, and technique, first and foremost the emphasis is on musicality: understanding the connection between music and dance, developing a listening ear, and trying to keep the music in the dancing. In the advanced level, students collaborate with live musicians. Students learn a mix of traditional step dancing, sean-nós dance, and set dancing, as well as some soft shoe and ceili dancing. Most importantly, Jackie is trying to pass onto her dancers not just the steps themselves, but the joy and vitality of carrying on this living tradition.  

End-of-year performance & celebration

Sunday May 15

Canadian-American Club

Two shows!

Show 1: 10:30am, all classes except the Monday ICC class

Show 2: 11:45am, all classes except the Hannah's Thur 3:45 class and Jackie's Wed 4:15 class

Join us to celebrate the hard work of all of our dancers throughout the year.  This will be our first in-person end-of-year celebration since 2019, and we're so excited to perform for you!  We'll have music by Natasha Sheehy (accordion) and Dan Accardi (fiddle). The show will run about an hour in length.  Masks will be required for all attendees/performers.

Spring 2022 registration open Now!  

Wednesdays in Watertown

Canadian-American Club

Jan 12 - May 11, no class 2/16, 4/20, +1 day tbd

Instructor: Jackie O'Riley

4:15-5pm: Beginner Irish Dance Ages 5+ ($272)

5-6pm: Continuing Irish Dance Ages 9+ ($285)

6-7:15pm: Senior/Teen Irish Dance ($300)

Thursdays in Medford

Location: West Medford Community Center

Jan 13 - May 12, no class 2/17, 4/21

Instructor: Hannah DeRusha

3:45-4:30pm: Beginner Irish Dance Ages 5+ ($288)

4:30-5:30pm: Continuing Irish Dance Ages 9+ ($304)

Mondays in Canton

Irish Cultural Center

Jan 10 - Mar 7, no class Feb 21

Instructor: Jackie O'Riley

4-5pm: Beginner Irish Dance - Ages 5+

To register email mdooher@irishculture.org

Saturdays in Cambridge

The Dance Complex

Session 1: Jan 15 - Feb 18 (next session will begin after Feb school vacation)

Instructor: Jackie O'Riley

Registration link below will be active asap.  In the meantime, feel free to send me an email to reserve a spot: orileyirishdance@gmail.com.

9-9:45am: Beginner Irish Dance Ages 5+ ($108)

Class Descriptions

Beginner Irish Dance

Dancers with 0-1 years of experience especially welcome.  Join us as we explore a beginner repertoire of jigs and reels, while focusing on the joy and musicality of Irish dance.

Contining Irish Dance

For dancers with 2 or more years of experience, we'll dig more deeply into rhythm, timing, and technique, and continue building our repertoire of traditional step dance, sean-nós dance, and set (social) dancing.  Occasional live music in class, and opportunities to perform and dance out in the community!

Senior/Teen Irish Dance

For experienced dancers, we'll work on a mixture of traditional repertoire and new choreography. Dancers will find their musical ear challenged, and enjoy creating together.  Performing and live music are both elements of this level.  

Class with our uilleann piper
Sharing tunes in class_
Performing with the Barra MacNeils
End-of-Year Performance


Performance Group

The O'Riley Irish Dance Performance Group was started as a project to challenge the more experienced dancers to develop a different skill set, including working with live music, developing improvisation skills, and helping to create choreography.  It also has provided them an outlet to share their hard work and passion with others.  The result has been a tight-knit group that has developed an intuitive rapport with each other on-stage and off.  Memorable performances to date include dancing with the Barra-MacNeils at the Chevalier Theater in Medford, MA 2015, dancing and as part of a Kieran Jordan production titled "Little Gifts" in Cambridge, MA, 2016, and self-produced shows including "The Next Step" in 2017 and "In Harmony" in 2018!

In 2020, we were slated to perform as part of the St. Patrick's Day Comedy Spectacular at the Rockwell Theatre, Somerville, and as part of the International Bagpipe Festival at Harvard University, as well as various nursing homes and community centers.  Sadly, due to Covid-19, all performances have been canceled.

To book our performance group, email orileyirishdance@gmail.com.


The wonderful Hannah DeRusha has been instrumental in carrying on and developing the programming for our younger students.  Hannah is a lifelong Irish dancer, and has extensive experience performing, competing, and teaching both children and adults. She holds a Master's degree in early childhood education. This is her 7th year teaching with O'Riley Irish Dance!

Shoe Exchange Program

To help offset the costs of buying new shoes for ever-growing young feet, we have a shoe exchange program.  For those that wish to donate their old dancing shoes, I will hold onto them and make them available to others to "rent".  Dancers wishing to rent them will pay a one-time very small donation and use the shoes until they grow out of them.  The money collected is used on something fun for the dancers – live music in class, our holiday party, etc.