Mar 10, 2024 - Culture

Irish dance's biggest week of the year in Chicago

Irish dancers

Members of the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance in the 2006 St. Patrick's Day parade. Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

St. Patrick's Day weekend is a time-honored tradition with Irish food, music and dance capturing our town's attention.

The big picture: If you partake in the fun, it's almost certain you'll see the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance kicking up a storm.

  • Their students will perform over 400 times this month, including in next weekend's downtown parade.

Context: Trinity has had a home in Chicago and Wisconsin for 42 years and is one of the most widely recognized Irish dance programs in the world.

What they're saying: "The history of Irish dance goes back centuries," Trinity's managing director Meggie Heilman tells Axios. "Yet the intricate footwork and precise movements are recognized throughout Chicago, and a lot of that is because of Trinity."

State of step: Some 600 dancers ranging from 3-and-a-half to 18 years old started rehearsals for their St. Patrick's Day performances back in December.

  • The troupes work out of the Irish American Heritage Center, as well as locations in Lakeview, Palatine, Elmhurst and Western Springs.
  • All month long, they'll dance at parades, festivals, assisted-living facilities and hospitals as part of their yearly outreach program.

Backstory: Mark Howard founded the academy as well as the Trinity Irish Dance company, a professional troupe that performs around the world, including last weekend at the Auditorium Theater.

  • Still, despite the international reach of Irish dancing that Howard helped establish, "it does feel like Chicago," Heilman says. "I think it's because Chicago has such a strong Irish culture."
irish dancers
Trinity dancers at a recent festival. Photo: Karly Tearney, courtesy of Trinity Academy

What's next: Trinity will be everywhere next weekend, notably at the St. Patrick's Day parades downtown and on the Northwest Side.


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