Geraldine Ryan, principal teacher of the O’Shea-Ryan Academy of Irish Dance, has taught for more than 60 years and is recognised as the first teacher in Australia to be registered with the Irish Dancing Commission.

She teaches Irish dance full time in country areas. She travels weekly between places as far away as Albury-Wodonga, Echuca, Bendigo, Mildura and to St Brigids in Crossley, to deliver classes.

Ever since the Riverdance phenomenon put Irish dancing into a global mainstream consciousness, interest in Irish dancing has grown. The attraction lies in its toe-tapping music, the social side of being with friends and the choreographic and musical variety of the hundreds of jigs and reels. There is the flowing, graceful and intricate footwork of the soft shoe dancing and the excitement and unison of the hard shoe dancing.

“Dance was always a social thing as well as a cultural avenue,” Ryan commented. It is this social side and the enjoyment of dance that she instils in her students, rather than the pressure of competition. She brings in cultural education through explanations of the history and regions of the dances, and doesn’t demand that students get to any particular level of technical mastery in their training. She makes it accessible to all.

Classes run on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Tuesday of the month during school terms at St Brigid’s Hall from 6.30pm.