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 11th 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.  

2021 COVID Update

This past year has been hard for all of us in different ways.  Here at OID we stopped in-person in classes in March '20 and finished out the semester on Zoom.  We canceled many performances that the dancers had worked so hard to prepare for, and had to forego our 10-year anniversary events which we we were so looking forward to.

Generally we offer classes at the Canadian-American Club in Watertown, The Dance Complex in Cambridge, and the West Medford Community Center in Medford.  After dancing in-person, outdoors together for Fall 2020, we'll return to Zoom to start off 2021.  For April/May 2021 we'll be back outdoors, in-person, and of course, we have have great hopes for being back in the studio in Fall 2021. If you are interested in starting Irish dance with us, please reach out - we'd love to hear from you, and new students are always welcome.

SUMMER registration open Now!  Jul/Aug 2021


Beginner Irish Dance - Ages 5+

9-10am Jul 15 - Aug 19

Outdoors, in-person!


Join us for summer programming - a fun, active hour on Thursday mornings geared towards new and beginning dancers!


Socially-distanced, this class is for young dancers who have had less than a year of Irish dance instruction.  We'll work on a beginner repertoire of Irish dance steps, with a focus on fun, community, and understanding the connection between Irish dance and music. 


In cases of inclement weather, we'll make the call by 5pm the night before and meet on Zoom instead.


Continuing Irish Dance - Ages 8+

10-11am Jul 15 - Aug 19

Outdoors, in-person!


Join us for our summer programming - a great way to start Thursday mornings, with a fun mix of repertoire, strength and rhythm-building, and musical games. 


We'll be in-person, outdoors, socially distanced at Tufts Park in Medford! 


In cases of inclement weather, we'll make the call by 5pm the night before and meet on Zoom instead.


Spring I - Jan-Mar 2021


New Beginners! Ages 5-8

4:15-5pm, Jan 27 - Feb 17 with Jackie O'Riley

On Zoom!

Join us for a 4-week introduction to Irish dance, with a focus on fun and creative movement. Starting new activities has been hard during the pandemic, so we're excited to offer this taster class to young, enthusiastic dancers!



Continuing Irish Dance I & II

4-5pm, Feb 4 - Mar 11

On Zoom!

Join us to re-connect after the holidays and get moving together.  Hannah DeRusha will lead warm-ups, group exercises, and teach old and new repertoire, in a supportive, inclusive environment. 


Continuing Irish Dance II & Intermediate

5-6pm, Jan 13 - Mar 3 with Jackie O'Riley & Ranóg Townsend

On Zoom!

Ranóg Townsend will teach a special 4-week sean-nós workshop during our class, beginning Jan 20!


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.