I’M ERIN COONEY.
A Certified Irish Dance Teacher, and the Owner and Director of Rince Nua Irish Dance.
I created the Irish Dance Studio Owners Group to provide Education, Inspiration, and Community for Irish Dance Studio Owners who are looking to build their business and positively impact the lives of their Irish Dance Students, their Staff, and their Community.
My Irish Dance Journey was not a typical one
I grew up on a farm in Minnesota.
My first experience of Irish Dance was when my mother came home from her first traveling vacation to Ireland and showed me a photo of a true, authentic Irish Dancer in traditional costuming in Ireland. I was intrigued. I only saw the photo. I had no idea what the dancing looked like. My mother tried to explain it to me.
Then my mother traveled to the Milwaukee Irish Festival one summer and came home with a pair of ghillies for me. I had no idea how they were suppose to fit, or how to tie them. It intrigued me.
Then, I experienced Irish Dance with my own eyes for the first time by watching a VHS tape with Irish dancing. I was more intrigued. How do they leap like that? How can their feet move so fast, I thought.
Then, I had the opportunity to learn one jig step from a family friend who saw it danced at an Irish Festival and did all she could to learn it so she could teach her children and me. Then, through some great effort on behalf of our small town Irish festival community, I had the opportunity to take Irish dance lessons with a TCRG at around the age of 12. She was a Champion Irish Dancer from Ireland and had recently moved to Minnesota. She travelled to my small hometown from St. Paul and taught the weekly class us. I learned my basics with her – hop 1-2-3’s, Beginner Reel, Slip Jig, Single Jig, Heavy Jig and St. Patrick’s Day. We performed and I competed in my first “Feis”. Then, sadly, she moved away….and I had no teacher. And then out of the blue RIVERDANCE came on the scene and became a world-wide phenomenon! I was 15.
Many people wanted to see, experience, and learn to Irish Dance after Riverdance. As people found out that I knew how to Irish Dance, I was sought out to perform and teach Irish Dance in my local community. I absolutely loved performing and teaching, and I did the absolute best I could. Since my TCRG had moved out of state, I turned to the “Learn to Irish Dance” VHS tapes to learn more, and then was able to take a few private lessons with another TCRG my senior year of highschool.
I continued performing and teaching throughout college and after college, but was unable to travel to take classes. At some point, I decided that I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to learn more and become a Certified Teacher, so I joined a TCRG online study group and bought the Ceili book. BUT it was then that I found out about an organization called CRN that was just starting to expand into the USA, and the BEST PART was that they offered a teacher training course! I was very interested in taking a course to learn more! I registered for the teacher training course, and LOVED IT! I learned SO MUCH! I met so many wonderful people. I was inspired by so many mentors, and I established my first network of professional Irish Dance friends.
Through five years of intense study and preparation, and a significant financial investment to travel the USA for teacher training and to Ireland twice to take the exams, I passed my final set of ODCRN exams in 2009, and I opened my current studio, called “Rince Nua Irish Dance” in 2012.
Since establishing our studio, we have grown our staff and have served hundreds of students. Our dancers have won National and World Championship Titles in teams, and National titles and World Medals in solos.
I am now excited to help Irish Dance Studio Owners collaborate to share resources and tips about their Irish dance businesses and programs. This will allow me an opportunity to share my knowledge gained from my last 5 years as an Irish Dance Studio Owner and Director as well as my previous 15 years as an Irish dance teacher.
Together we can positively impact our students and our communities by creating successful Irish dance programs and business.