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About Irish Dancing

Irish dancing is much more than it appears… As the name suggests, Irish dance originates from Ireland and the art form still retains many of it’s defining characteristics from it’s traditional past. But like many traditions, the dance style has evolved with the rise of performance Irish dance (Riverdance, Lord of Dance) and the rapid growth and development of the competitive sport. Irish dance owes much to it’s traditional origins but it’s not just for the Irish anymore! 


The sport maintains a huge participation across the world with established dance schools located across Australia, New Zealand, The United States of America, Canada, Ireland, and The United Kingdom and countries such as Austria, Germany, Russia, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, The United Arab Emirates, Mexico and many more now appearing regularly at international competitions. 

At Pacific we teach three main types of Irish dance. Solo, Ceili (team), and Performance. 

Ceili (Team) Dancing

Ceili or Team Dancing are group dances performed by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 or 16 dancers. These dances are simple from a footwork perspective but gain their technicality from the alignment, synchronicity and style of the dancers performing them. The movements of most of these dances are dictated by Ar Rinci Ceili, a book officially compiled and released by The Irish Dance Commission in Dublin, or are uniquely choreographed. Ceili dancing teaches students how to work closely as part of team and is a vital part of the Irish dancing education. 

Solo Dancing
Performance Dancing

As the name suggests, Solo dancing is about the individual and is the core element of our classes. Solo dancing introduces students to a variety of different dances, each with a unique rhythm, style and complexity and is the primary focus in competitive Irish dancing. The focus in Solo is technique, fitness and individual style. Every dancer begins their journey with soft or light shoe dances characterised by the graceful and athletic leaps, jumps and leg movements, and later, introduced to the more rhythm and strength based hard or heavy shoe dances characterised by the tap like sounds they produce.

Popularised by the famous shows like Riverdance and Lord of Dance, Performance Dancing, or Show dancing is a unique style of Irish dancing that steps away from the traditional and is specifically choreographed to be displayed to an audience. Countless professional productions are staged each year around the world  and performed by experienced dancers. Performance dancing is taught for the purpose of community displays, fundraising events and for some competitions.

About Irish Dancing

What to Expect

Irish dancing can be a daunting world to step in to as there are lots of different elements that come together to make the community what it is today. But, don't worry we will walk you through everything you need to know as it comes along. Class forms the central part of what we do and is 90% of the Irish dancing experience. In the first couple of weeks of classes we will teach the basic elements of Irish dancing and begin the first dance, the Beginner Reel. 

At Pacific, we specifically tailor each dancers training journey uniquely, from our beginners right up to our senior championship dancers. We understand that some dancers will be better at some things and learn in their own individual way, which is why we don't impose any requirements for dancers to learn specific elements or dances in any particular time frame or order. Our focus is on each dancer enjoying every moment of their learning and ensuring they are fully equiped with everything they need to know before they progress forward. This approach means that it is difficult to place time frames around how long a dancer will take before they take the next big step, whether that be toward their first competition or performance, or toward taking to the stage for their first National Championships. 

Beginner classes run for 45 minutes to an hour and will contain a number of different elements. We complete a warm up, introduce the first set of 'drills' specifically designed to introduce students to the base technical elements of the style, and then progress to translating those technical elements into dances. Students will work with a variety of different teachers and groups throughout their class and will often work one on one with a teacher due to the tailored nature of our approach. We complete class with some stretching and some exercises for them to take away.

Outside of class, we encourage all of our dancers to practice what they have learnt in preparation for their next class, as revising between classes often solidifies the dancer's knowledge and allows for progression in the next class. In most cases this will happen naturally as students start to dance around the lounge room, hallway, school yard and even supermarket isles - don't worry this is very normal!

Once the student is comfortable in their training routine we will start to discuss next steps and what the student might like to work towards in the future, whether that be competition, performances or even just participation at a class level. We will then use this information to ensure their individual roadmap is on track for what they would like to get out of their Irish dancing experience. 

What to Expect

The Future Journey

There are a number of different journeys every dancer has the opportunity to take during their Irish dancing training at every level. To offer as a complete experience as possible, we encourage dancers to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as they can manage based on their available time, experience and training level. We will approach each student about opportunities as they reach the required knowledge level and ensure their training is suitable for them to participate confidently. 



For pre-school aged children, this is their early introduction to Irish Dance.  Gaining an understanding of Irish music and essential dance movements such as jumping, hopping, skipping in a structured and supportive setting.  


This is the starting point for school aged children. Students are able to participate in one or two classes a week at this level and will be introduced to 4 initial soft shoe dances: Beginner Reel, Beginner Single Jig, Beginner Light Jig and Beginner Slip Jig. Beginner competition, performance and grade exam options are available for this level and will be offered at an appropriate time for each dancer based on their acquired knowledge and confidence. 


Dancers at this level have learnt the beginner/foundation technique and dances to progress to hard shoe and team dancing. . Regularly attend two or more classes per week to ensure coverage of all required elements and work towards regular competitions.  Opportunities include local beginner and primary level competitions, performances and grade examinations. 


Students with the required knowledge and an appropriate training ethos will be invited to join our Championship Program. Dancers in this class learn open level and team dances and are prepared through training to compete locally and interstate often including the State and National Championships. Students are required to attend 3-4 classes per week and additional practice outside of class is a requirement. Opportunities at the Championship level include open level local and interstate competitions, performances and grade examinations.  


Our Advanced Championship dancers are our top level dancers who train at a high level for local and interstate competition including the State and National Championships. These dancers are also encouraged to attend, on invitation, the International 'majors' including The North American National Championships, All Ireland Championships, Great Britain Championships, All Scotland Championships and the World Championships. Experienced dancers who have an interest in teaching may assist our beginner and primary level classes and take on a mentorship role for the younger generation at Pacific Irish dance.  Students are required to attend 3-4 classes a week and additional practice outside of class is a requirement. Opportunities at this level include, open level competition, performances and grade examinations. 


Once a student has learnt the required technique and dances, we will invite them to participate in their first competition. Competition is a great way for students to meet other dances from around Victoria and Australia and show what they have learnt in class alongside other students at their level and age group. Dancers competing at a Beginner level will perform in a school costume at a local Feis (Competition) organised by another school in the region or by The Victorian Branch of the Australian Irish Dance Association. There are typically 10 competitions held in Melbourne for dancers at a beginner level each year between March and November. 

As a student progresses, more competition opportunities will be made available interstate and overseas. Pacific Dancers travel throughout the year to various locations around Australia and the World. 

We will assist students and their families choosing to take part in competition with selecting the right competitions for the dancer, taking into consideration their knowledge, level, confidence and time availability. 


Performances are a great way for students to give back to the community, have some fun and show everything they have learnt. At Pacific we regularly perform for community events such as Sunfest and St Patrick's Day festivals, and for general events at nursing homes, corporate gatherings, birthday parties and weddings. Based on the nature of different events we will often invite dancers from across the school of different levels and ages. 

Every second year, we also put together a class concert at the end of the year to offer an opportunity for students to show what they learnt to the school community. The class concert often involves a mix of solo, team and performance work and includes every dancer in the school. 


Grade exams are a standardised way for students to determine where they sit on the knowledge scale in Irish dancing as a whole. The exams are governed by The Irish Dance Commission in Ireland and have 12 levels. The school often organises examinations of our own but may also invite students to attend examinations held by another school in Victoria. Students at an appropriate knowledge level and confidence will be invited to take part. 

The examiner assess the students technical ability in performing specific dances and general knowledge of the dances across solo and team dancing, awarding them with a certificate and marking sheet on successful completion of each level. Grade exams are a great way for students to assess their abilities outside of the competition environment. 

Students aspiring to teach Irish dancing in the future by taking the TCRG Exam are required to have completed all 12 Grade Exams prior to sitting the teachers exam. 

The Future Journey
Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started couldn't be easier. We accept students at any time throughout the year to any of our beginner classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Your first class is free so you can give it a try with no obligations.



Drop us an email to express your interest in joining a class.

We can help you to select the best class to begin with and answer any questions you might have. 



Attend your trial class and see what you think.

Locations / Timetable


Let us know what you think.

 Arrange to join the classes on an ongoing basis! 



What should I bring/wear to my trial class?

Students should wear a regular t-shirt or tank top that is not too baggy, shorts or leggings (no baggy tracksuit pants), a jacket (if cooler), socks and runners. Girls should have their hair tied up out of their face. 

Students should also bring a drink bottle of water along with them. No sports drinks or soft drinks. 

How much does it cost?

Your trial class is free. We will send you the details of our regular fee structure via email. 

Where are the classes located?

Beginner classes are held at Sunbury and North Melbourne on different days. Please see our Locations page and Timetable page for details.

If I bring my child along, can I stay and watch?

Yes! At Pacific Irish Dance we have an open door policy. Parents at every level are invited to sit in and watch any class. There is an exception to this when we are preparing our end of year concert so as not to spoil the surprise. We will let you know if this is the case. 

Please be mindful of how you child is likely to act with and without you there. Some parents have realised that their child is more focused when they are not there, others find the opposite. 

What if my child has danced before, should we attend the beginner class still?

Yes. Even if you child has trained in other dance styles or even Irish dance previously, please attend the beginner class as we will use this class to assess their current abilities and knowledge. If there is a more suitable class they should attend in the future we will advise you at the end of the class. 

Please contact us if you have any other questions at all. 

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