McGrath Irish Dance



Welcome.  Here is some general information that will be helpful to further your knowledge and love of Irish Dancing.  This information is put together from past Irish Dancing mothers wishing to help others feel welcome, comfortable and understand what Irish Dancing is about.



Your child is in excellent hands at the McGrath Irish Dance School.

Your child will have fun and will learn so much more than just dance. We learn to count music, motor skills, manners, time management, being silly and having fun. At dance competitions (which are not mandatory), your dancer will learn how to win, how to handle losing, good sportsmanship, stage presence, managing nerves, and other life skills that will stick with them forever.

Your child will dance not only around the house, but also at the shops, during the grocery shopping and pretty much anywhere they can - we call that practising!

Each child must bring a water bottle.  It’s very thirsty work when you are a dancer.

When you sign up your child for dancing there is personal paperwork that must get filled out and returned to Leanne.  Please advise any health issues or allergies.  These must be noted. Your child will not be the only one in the classes with allergies or health issues.

All term fees are to be paid on time otherwise a late fee is added. Extra class invoices are emailed out during and at the end of each term.  Payment via Eftpos/Credit card is accepted. If paying cash please place in an envelope with child’s name on the front.

The term fee includes multiple classes.  It is completely up to you as the parent to make the decision to bring them to more than one class.  There are no discounts available if you only do one class per week.

Drop off and pick up times are very important and must be adhered to. Remembering if you are late it impacts not only on your child’s class but also on the following class. If you are late to pick up on the last class of the evening numerous times, you will be invoiced for the time. Picking up late while another class is on is no issue as long as Leanne is aware.



Leanne is the owner and founder of McGrath Irish Dance. In September 2011, Leanne wanted to share her passion of Irish Dancing and ensure that all her dancers have fun learning all aspects of the art form, or as Leanne likes to think, Sport! Leanne is very strict of a few things during class, competition and outside. Firstly, if Irish Dancing is no longer fun, talk to Leanne. Don’t just quit. There are always way to manage the class and the dancer. Be polite. Be on time. Help others. Be considerate. And most importantly, share your passion with others.

Senior Dancers help Leanne during classes. This is an excellent way for junior dancers to meet the seniors, and a great learning experience for the older dancers. The older dancers are able to work one on one with any other dancer in the school. Please contact Leanne if you wish to set up private lessons.

There will be times during the term when senior dance students take the class for Leanne.  They are experienced and dedicated also to the love of Irish Dancing. Feedback from the class is always welcomed.

Leanne is not only an Irish Dance Teacher but also an Irish Dancing Adjudicator which means she travels outside of Canberra several weekends a year to judge other competitions. You cannot enter a competition where Leanne is judging.

Leanne also has a personal life and works during the week. Please be considerate when you are texting/calling or sending emails.  Leanne loves receiving texts of her dancers at competitions when she is unable to attend. She also likes the Public Facebook page to be tagged in a picture so she can share it to our community.

All decisions regarding the running and teaching of McGrath Irish Dance are made by Leanne.  Leanne is a very experienced Irish Dancer. She has been dancing since the age of six and has competed and travelled all over the world with Irish Dancing. She is very passionate about her business and students. She will do everything possible to protect her dancers and ensure they are having fun.


Leannes Mobile No: 0435 402 490

Leannes Email address:

McGrath Irish Dance Facebook Public

McGrath Irish Dance Parents, Carers and Dancers (closed group). Ask on Facebook to be accepted in to the group. 



Practice ‘uniforms’ are not mandatory. We do have tee shirts, socks and other team wear available for purchase. Sometimes getting the sparkly socks will be all you need for your dancer to practice to reach that next milestone.

New soft and hard shoes are available to buy at the studio. New soft shoes start at $25.  There is also a great pool of second hand shoes.

Irish Dancing dresses are not mandatory unless you are doing competition. In saying this, beginners and primary use our team costume which are for sale brand new for $100 or second hand for cheaper. If you dancer is doing a competition, a team costume is mandatory.

Solo dresses are available for purchase once your dancer is out of beginners. A solo dress can range in price starting at around $250. A solo costume should last your dancer at least a year, depending on how much they grow. All solo dresses must be purchased with Leanne knowing about the look. As your dancer represents McGrath Irish Dance, your dancer must look appropriate for competitions.

There are vendors at a competition. You are welcome to purchase any items you like. Don’t get sucked in to spending too much money!


Soft Shoes:  These are the first Irish Dancing shoes students will practice and compete in

Hard Shoes: These are the Irish Dancing shoes that make the noise



Leanne runs a fundraising account that assists the dancers and parents throughout the year. Leanne would like to get to a point where entries and parts of travel are paid for each year. This is only possible with the help of families in the dance school. Each year, there are many fundraisers put on, set up by the parents. If you have any ideas or would like to organise something, please chat with Leanne.

Once a year McGrath Irish Dance School will hold a Feis. (Irish name for competition, pronounced fesh)  This and St Patricks day are our major fundraising events during the year. All dancers at McGrath are required to enter our school Feis and parents are encouraged to volunteer throughout the day.



If your child wants to they can compete in competitions once Leanne thinks they have enough knowledge to go on stage and present themselves to a judge. Generally by the second term of learning.

They will need their hair nicely brushed, no wigs allowed, clean white socks and Irish dancing soft shoes.  No make up of any sort is allowed.

No hard shoes at this stage, wait until Leanne tells you otherwise.

There are rules that must be followed at dancing competitions:-

There is an entry form and fee to be paid prior to competing. These will need to be signed off by Leanne before submitting.

As the competition nears you will be advised of what time you will need to be there and be ready to compete – best to arrival at least 45 minutes prior to scheduled dance time. A number will be issued on the day at the entry door which is to be pinned with safety pins on the waistband.  The judge needs to see this clearly.

Your child will line up beside the stage once their age group is called. The competition may run early or later than advertised but it will happen. Important to be patient and enjoy your time there.

At the first competition your child will walk on stage with someone’s help usually Leanne or a senior dancer to show them what to do and where to face.  They will dance what they have been taught once the music starts, they will bow to the judge when finished and walk of the stage the opposite end of coming on.  They will then find you and be excited.  They may laugh, they may cry but it is all about having fun and presenting themselves on stage and to the judge.  They may not win but they will make friends, they will turn back up to training at the next class and they will still practice at home. Filming your dancer is only acceptable in the Novice, beginner and primary sections. Make the most of it. Before you know it, your dancer will be up against the most talented kids in Australia and you won’t be able to film. Photos for memories are allowed during presentation.

Nobody is to talk to the judge during the day, dispute the place your child has got or walk in front of the judge’s desk. If you have an issue, you must speak to Leanne.




New dancer, very eager to turn up for classes and thrives on practicing at home

Learning basic steps of Irish Dancing and making new friends

Requires soft Irish dancing shoes and lots of enthusiasm

No make up at competitions

Class costume for competing at Feis

Can only compete in novice at at feis once no matter the outcome.

Beginners to move up to primary at competition once Leanne sees fit.

Soft shoe dance being worked on: Beginner Reel, Beginner Jig.

Music: Anton and Sully Beginner Reel and Jig



Make up allowed for competitions over the age of 10

Team costume or Solo costume for competitions.

Soft shoe dance being worked on: Reel, Slip jig

Hard shoe dance being worked on: Heavy Jig, Blackbird

Music: Reel speed 116, Slip Jig 120, Heavy Jig, 92 and 88, Blackbird (no speed). All music can be found on I-Tunes. Anton and Sully, Feis Tunes, any others you may find. A good mix of music is excellent pratice.



Make up allowed for competitions over the age of 10

Fake tan required for competitions

Potential to be invited to State and National Championships.



Competing at all competitions that are available in all States. Major competitions to include: State Championships, National Championships, AIO.

Once reaching open, dancers are invited to compete internationally and, if qualified, the World Championships.

Make up allowed for competitions over the age of 10

Fake tan required for competitions


AIDA = Australia Irish Dancing Association

AIDA is the governing body of Irish Dancing in Australia.

This is a committee that meets every two months, each state has a representative who must attend.

Each state have a committee who meet regularly also, plan the year for competitions and discuss problems that may have arisen.


ACT State Competition:

This competition is held locally in August. It’s a great weekend to see all the state’s best dancers.


Australian Irish Dancing National Competition:

This competition is held during the September/October school holidays over six days and each year is in a different city.  Great way to see Australia.  This competition is the best of the best and generally have been dancing for at least four years.


NAN’s –North American Nationals:

This is a competition held every year in July somewhere in America.

Leanne will normally travel to this competition and may take Championship students with her.


World Irish Dancing Competition:

This is a competition held every year in April generally in Ireland/Scotland. Dancers must qualify to enter this event.

How to thread/tie Irish Dancing Soft Shoes:

There are several sites that give you the information you require.

Google – How to thread Irish Dancing Soft Shoes – believe me something will come up generally an American dancer going through the “how to do it”.

Don’t be scared to ask a parent.


What to keep in Mum’s dance bag:

Energy food for the day and drink bottle

Food for mum and family if they are coming also

Bobby pins – Lots of them and strong

Medium size safety pins – usually for allocated dance number



Hair spray

Strong hair gel



Hair bands, flowers etc whatever is matching dress

Make up

Clean white dance socks – at least two pairs

Sock glue

Black liquid shoe polish

Spare shoe laces

Black tape

White Tape


Small sewing set

Selling and Buying Costumes

Always ask Leanne first. Don't buy a dress without her seeing it. Leanne will help you measure your dancer. 

Some sites to like, follow and register to buy and sell costumes: (costs to post)