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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE CLADDAGH SCHOOL OF IRISH DANCING. Maureen Siegert brought Irish dancing to Dubuque. After reading an advertisement in an Irish newspaper from Chicago about the McNulty School of Irish Dance, she contacted Barbara McNulty, the owner and lead dance instructor. McNulty traveled to Dubuque to teach Ann, Maureen's daughter, the art of Irish step dancing. From an original class of ten including Ann, Dubuque's school was created.

A "sister school" of the McNulty School, Dubuque's Claddagh School began in the Allison Henderson building. By 2012 the number of students had grown to ninety-seven with Ann, the head teacher. The group then moved to the Peosta Community Center which could accommodate the larger group. Students from the Chicago and Dubuque schools have traveled to Ireland to compete in dance competitions. They have also performed at Disneyland and Disney World.

The history of the dance began in the ancient time of the Druids who created circular dances during religious rites. Around the end of the 18th century, step dancing became popular as masters of the art traveled between villages performing and teaching.

Irish dancing, popularized by Riverdance and Lord of the Dance in the 1990s, is known for the rapid movement of a dancer's feet and the rigid position of the upper body. Stories suggest that the rigid position came from the small spaces the original dancers were given to perform. It has been said that dance masters once performed on doors removed from their hinges. A second suggestion was that dancers often performed in crowded pubs where swinging arms would not have been possible.

Michael Flatley--Lord of the Dance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjxTTjJtXDA&list=RDHgGAzBDE454&index=9



Brown, Ellen Gallogly. "Making a Dream Come True: The Dubuque Claddagh School of Irish Dancing," Julien's Journal, March 2012, p. 28-29