Cary, NC — This St. Patrick’s Day 2021, we’re highlighting one of Cary’s newest businesses, the Kilpatrick Irish Dance School.
The school is based in two studio locations—one on Buck Jones Road in Cary and the other on S. Main Street in Fuquay. The owner, Jolie Kilpatrick, is a competitive Irish dancer with 20 years of experience as a certified Irish Dance teacher.
Kilpatrick and her family moved to North Carolina in late 2019, a few months ahead of the pandemic.
“We began classes in January. It has certainly been different opening a school in the middle of a pandemic,” said Kilpatrick.
Discovering Family Roots
Kilpatrick’s first introduction to Irish Dance was through her great Aunt Mary whose family emigrated from Ireland.
She first learned a jig from her aunt in her grandparent’s garage and it caught fire from there. She wanted to know more about her familial roots and listened to all the Irish music she could find.
“From that moment I couldn’t get the rhythms out of my head and knew I needed to learn how to dance like that,” Kilpatrick added. At age 13 she joined her first class and never looked back.
Irish Heritage & Hard Work Led to a Career
Continuing down the path of hard work and competitions, Kilpatrick eventually achieved the high level of Irish Dancing as an Open Championship Dancer.
She went on to earn her spot in the top ten in the Mid-America region and was offered a spot on a traveling U.S. tour produced by none other than Michael Londra, the former lead singer of Riverdance.
“It was a whirlwind tour that checked off a huge bucket list item for me, one I thought I would never achieve due to beginning so late for an Irish dancer,” said Kilpatrick. “We danced for sold-out auditoriums. It was magical!”
Choosing a New Path—Teaching
“I have found my greatest joys not in my own successes, but in coaching others to achieve theirs,” said Kilpatrick.
“I was nervous about ending my competitive career because I loved it so much, but the joy I receive from coaching others has overcome that passion tenfold.”
In more than 20 years of teaching, Kilpatrick has seen her classes bring about a lot more than an understanding of Irish Dance. It’s also about setting achievable goals, growing confidence and helping dancers to be lifelong, self-motivated learners.
“Being there for all my students through the highs and lows of competition, seeing it “click” in a beginner, getting a hug and a hand-drawn note from a preschool student—these are the reasons I dance now,” said Kilpatrick.
Join a Class in Cary or Fuquay
There is a beginner class forming in Cary on Tuesday evenings from 5:45-6:30 PM and in Fuquay on Mondays from 4:30-5:15 PM.
The preschool class will be in Cary on Wednesdays from 12:15 -1 PM and in Fuquay on Tuesdays from 11-11:45 AM. Take a look at the school’s website for more information and to get in touch.
All new dancers are welcome, no matter their experience.
Story by Ashley Kairis. Photos courtesy of the Kilpatrick School of Dance.
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