O'Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance, a teaching and competitive Irish dancing school with their main location in Bethlehem, has a new location in Hilltown Township on Bethlehem Pike near Hatfield. Teacher Teresa Hesener said the school opened in Harleysville in September, but shortly thereafter moved to Hilltown.
The school, which teaches children ages 4 to 25 Irish dance and regularly sends dancers to the regionals, nationals and world championship Irish dance competitions, has approximately 150 families at their Bethlehem location and 20 dancers at their Hilltown location. Membership is growing.
Teachers at O'Grady Quinlan must be trained and certified to teach for their students to qualify for the An Coimisiún, the largest world Irish dancing competition, whose world championship will be help in Boston this year. O'Grady Quinlan has 17 dancers qualified for the Boston championships, the most ever for the school and the most in the mid-Atlantic region.
To qualify, dancers must place in the top ten at regionals or at nationals, or must be in the top 30 percent of Irish dancers in the world, who are then considered a "medal holder."
O'Grady Quinlan has few medal holders in their ranks, including Erin Green, from their Bethlehem school, who won the regionals for senior ladies, placed 5th at the All Ireland competition in 2011 and place 3rd at the North American competition in 2011.
Besides competing, the school all does over 100 shows year, including performing at community events, with an exceptional performance schedule around St. Patrick's Day.
The dance studio in Hilltown is located at 1713 Bethlehem Pike, and trains beginners through championship level students. A new beginner class starts on April 3 and they are still accepting registrations for boys and girls of all ages.