Practice Floor Options

There are several ways to go about building a dance floor at home:

Shower Pan Liner (Easiest Option)

For around $40 you can buy shower pan liner (Gray or Black) from Home Depot or Lowes. You can either buy a big square piece in a package or you can buy it off of a roll:

This is a good option if you have an appropriate subfloor. However, if the subfloor is concrete or other hard floors like tile it has no flex/spring and can cause injury. Also if you are doing more advanced movements there is a chance that you might poke a hole through the floor with the sharp edge of the hard shoe.

Practice Pad (Portable Hard Shoe option)

This is a patented roll out mat that is great for practicing hard shoe and drilling. The Practice Pad has a specially designed SprungTECH foam layer to give the feel of a sprung floor and help combat hard surfaces. It also has a Grid can be used as a visual aid by dancers of all ages, from beginner to championship level, to self correct alignment, turn out, cross, control and placement. Not a big mat, but great for drilling and beginners!

Jubilee Dance Floor (Very Portable)

Individual 2' x 2' sprung, lightweight, interconnecting tiles. This is a more expensive option depending on how many tiles you buy.

Harlequin Dance Floor (Most Professional & Durable)

Harlequin sells floors to dance studios but also has a few at home options. For their complete line of at home practice floors see below: Wood Floor (Most Popular, Very Durable) This is the most popular type of dance floor for at home practice but it is the least portable and requires some labor. This is a DIY custom built floor made of plywood sheets and 2”x4” found at your local hardware store. You can make it any size you want and is typically placed in an unused garage or basement. Once the plywood sheets are screwed into the 2”x4” frame you can used duct tape or gaffers tape to cover the seams. Here is an example of a structural layout:

If the wood is too loud you can cover it with Shower Pan Liner or other vinyl coverings bought from professional floor companies. The vinyl material is often called “Marley”, which was a poplar flooring manufacturer that is now out of business.

Progress Reports!

Each session, students & parents receive feedback from teachers. We break down the various skills & steps for each level and give child-specific comments on where your dancers is with respect to those skills.

The video below shows how to access your dancer’s progress reports via the Parent Portal!



We challenge ALL OF OUR DANCERS to a 30 Day Practice Challenge! 

It’s Turn it UP November!!

We are only 3 WEEKS out from the Feis ATL and 5 WEEKS away from the Southern Region Oireachtas!  

The CHALLENGE: If ALL dancers in a class practices at home 3 days a week in shoes & to music we will have an Ice Cream Social in that class!

How long should a practice be?

Levels 1 & 2: Take your child's grade at school and multiply by 5!  (Eg. Kindergarten or 1st grade: 1x5 = 5mins a day!) 
Level 3: 20-30 mins a day
Level 4: 35+ mins a day (big focus on Traditional Set & "walking skips")
Level 5 & 6: At least 1 hour

How will I keep track?

Your child will receive a PRACTICE WORKSHEET at Class. They will get to color in 1 shamrock for each time they dance a step with 5 GOOD repetitions of a move or dance. :)

What else?

Please send us photos and videos of your dancer in action! We love to pump eac hother up with images of our hard working students!

The Beginner "FEIS LOOK"



Girls have 3 options:

  1. Burke Connolly Beginner Skirt Costume (Skirt, Shawl & Embroidered long-sleeved Leotard);

  2. Burke Connolly Dress Costume; or

  3. ALL BLACK (The PRE-Costume) - Black long-sleeved Leotard & Black Opaque Skirt that hits 3-4” above the knees.

Poodle Socks- champion ankle length only!! No knee socks :) Click HERE to order.

Boys also have several options:

• Main Costume: Black Dress Pants, Black Dress Shirt & Black Dress Socks

• Lime Green Tie or Bow-tie (Optional Add-on for beginners)

• Burke Connolly Vest (Optional Add-on for beginners)



Girls’ hair should be curled. You can curl hair naturally or purchase a wig.

NATURAL CURLS: Curl hair using sponge rollers or pin curls. HOW TO VIDEO on curling Hair with sponge rollers.

  • Start with DRY hair

  • Use SMALL sections of hair (The smaller the section of hair, the tighter the curl!)

  • Use Mousse (they don’t in the video. That will not hold!)

  • Do not twist the hair before rolling into the curler. That’s a different look.

  • Sleep in curlers overnight.

  • Take all curlers out the following morning.

    • DO NOT brush the curls out.  They should be tight.

  • Put hair in half pony tail, creating volume at front of head

  • Separate each curl into 3 smaller curls

  • Spray with aerosol hairspray

WIGS: Please talk with your teacher about which wig is preferred, as styles change.

HAIR ACCESSORIES: Burke Connolly Headband.  Ask your teacher for the contact (orders take several weeks to Fill!!)

  • Note: Bows are permitted on beginner dancers ages 6 and under ONLY.

Boys hair should be Clean and Neat and remain out of the eyes while dancing.


Beginner & Advanced Beginners:

NO make-up is permitted on Beginners under the age of 12.

Light make-up, consisting of light blush, lipstick or lip gloss, and neutral basic eye make-up (no crazy colors like blue!) may be worn on Beginners ages 12 & Over.

What is a FEIS?

What is a FEIS?

 You might have heard this strange word around the studio by now.  Other than performances, a FEIS is something our students LOVE to do!  

First, a wee bit O'history..

“FEIS”  (pronounced FESH)  is a Gaelic word that means festival. Many years ago in Ireland, the local towns would hold a Feis where the community would gather--Many entered contests to show their baking, music, dance and art skills.  

We keep these traditions alive today!  At a feis, registrants can compete in a variety of Irish cultural activities. In addition to the dancing competitions, we encourage our dancers and their families to enter the other competitions available: music, baking, singing and art!  Even our parents have entered (and won!) baking competition! Yum! 

 Onstage action!

Onstage action!

What happens at a Feis?

At a Feis, competitors are split into age-groups such as U9 & U10-- meaning "under 9" and "under 10".  This is based on the Child's age on January 1st of the current year.

Dancers are then split into levels based on their ability and success at previous feiseanna (plural of feis).  

The levels are:  Beginner; Advanced Beginner; Novice; Prizewinner; Preliminary Championship; and Open Championship!  Dancer's move through the levels by fulfilling certain criteria. Each Year, the State of Georgia has Several Competitions:

January-  King O'Sullivan Winter Feis, in Atlanta
February  Feis Na Tara, in Atlanta
MayPeach State Feis, in Atlanta
NovemberFeis ATL & HOTlanta  in Atlanta

Finally, Click and Read :

"What to Expect the Day of the Feis" and "The Beginner Feis Look"

 Some of our beginners practicing together at their very first feis!

Some of our beginners practicing together at their very first feis!

Don't forget to Practice!

The best way to ensure a fun and exciting feis is to help your dancer feel prepared!  

In class, we use visualization and roll playing techniques to make sure your dancer knows what to expect when they get on stage.  

At home, you can help, too!  Practicing at home will help ensure that they feel confident about their steps, which is key to creating a healthy relationship with the stage--whether it is at a feis or a performance!

Remember, a week between classes feels like a CENTURY to a child!  So, we've put together VIDEOS of each dance and skill your child is learning in class!  

They are all available on our private Students Only Page. From our Homepage, simply scroll to the bottom, click the "Students Only" button and insert the secret password!

 Kids can practice at home with Ms. Emma! :)

Feis Levels Explained

Which FEIS LEVEL Should My Child Dance In?

Keep track of your Dancer's scores and placements from the past year's feiseanna. Once you have those, compare them to the rules below!  Remember- Each dance can be in a different level so dancers can be in MULTIPLE Levels at one time!

Grade (level) Definitions & Rules:

Beginner: A beginner is a competitor who has not taken a full year of Irish Dance lessons, thereby giving beginners a full year with such status. A Beginner must move into the Advanced Beginner category for the next year.

Advanced Beginner: An Advanced Beginner who wins 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place will advance to the Novice category in that particular dance.

Novice: A Novice dancer who wins a 1st place in a dance will advance to the Open (Prizewinner) category in that particular dance. In addition, if there are twenty or more dancers, a dancer who wins 1st place or 2nd place in a dance will advance to the Open/Prizewinner category in that particular dance. (Dec. 2012)

Open (Prizewinner): A competitor who does not qualify as a Beginner, Advanced Beginner or Novice. (see “Novice” for Prizewinner qualifications).

NOTE: The status of the dancer does NOT change unless there are five or more dancers in a competition.

Competitors have the option to remain in the same category for the remainder of the Feis year (until the following January 1st).

After entries have been closed, in any competition where five or more boys are entered, the feis committee will run a separate competition for these boys.

A feis committee may only combine two consecutive calendar year age groups (within that grade only) when fewer than five (5) competitors are entered in either age group, with the exception of the oldest age group listed.

Championship Level Definitions & Rules:

A) Preliminary Championships are open to those who, at any NAFC recognized Feis, have:

1. Placed 1st in both an Open (Prizewinner) light and heavy shoe competition; and

2. Never won 1st, 2nd or 3rd in Open Championship.

B) A dancer who wins two (2) first place preliminary championship awards in one calendar year will move on to Open Championship the following year (as of Jan 1); if the second first-place win does not occur in the same feis year as the first win, as soon as the second win is achieved, in any age category, the dancer must move up to open championship level immediately. Only in the case of a back-to-back Feiseanna (successive days) the first-place win in the first Feis will not change the dancer’s status for the second Feis.

C) A dancer in a preliminary championship is required to perform a light shoe dance (reel or slip jig for ladies and reel only for men) and a hard shoe dance. A Feis can opt to offer either (a) a set dance) or (b) a jig/hornpipe or (c) both a set dance and jig/hornpipe

D) Boys and Girls will be combined in preliminary championships –Please note the separation policy involving five or more boys

E) Preliminary Championship competitions must be offered separately in the syllabus for the minimum required age groups, yet the feis committee may combine an age group with the next higher age groups if there are fewer than 5 competitors entered in the lower age group. A feis committee is not permitted to combine dancers from one preliminary championship age group with any age group which is more than one age group higher than the age group in which the dancers are entered.

NOTE: Placing in a Regional or National Oireachtas does NOT change the status of a competitor. If after competing for two full feis years at the Open Championship level, a dancer has not placed first, second or third, he/she may opt to return to Preliminary Championship status.

Irish Dance Music Speeds

When dancers practice at home it is important that they use music that is the correct speed. When we perform or compete the musicians use a metronome to ensure they are playing at an appropriate speed for dancers. Below we list the different levels Burke Connolly dancers are in and the dances and speed of music they will need for practicing. Happy practicing! 

Visit our Spotify page for easy access to our Burke Connolly practice playlist: CLICK HERE

Level 1 (Beginner)

  • Reel: 122
  • Light Jig: 115

Level 2 (Beginner 2)

  • Reel: 122
  • Light Jig: 115
  • Slip Jig (Beginner/Novice): 122

Level 3 (Advanced Beginner)

  • Reel: 122
  • Light Jig: 155
  • Slip Jig (Beginner - Novice): 122
  • Fast/Traditional Hornpipe: 138
  • Fast/Traditional Treble Jig: 92
  • Traditional Set - St.Patrick's Day: 94

Level 4 (Novice - Prizewinner)

  • Reel: 113
  • Slip Jig: 113
  • Treble Jig: 73
  • Hornpipe: 113
  • St.Patrick's Day: 94
  • Job of Journey Work: 138

Level 5 & 6 (Championships)

  • Reel: 113
  • Slip Jig: 113
  • Treble Jig: 73
  • Hornpipe: 113
  • Traditional Set - St.Patrick's Day: 94
  • Traditional Set - Three Sea Captains: 96
  • Traditional Set - King of the Ferries: 130
  • Non-Traditional Set - Three Sea Captains: 71 (School Specific)
  • Non-Traditional Set - Blackthorn Stick: 69 (School Specific)
  • Non-Traditional Set - The Piper: 110 (School Specific)
  • Non-Traditional Set - Kilkenny Races: 110 (School Specific)




WATER. We dance non-stop the entire class.  Please ensure you have plenty of water :)  No sport drinks or glass bottles.

DANCE SHOES.  Beginner dancers need "Soft Shoes" for class.  Advanced dancers need soft shoes and hard shoes.  See the links below to order your soft shoes :)

WHITE SOCKS. "Poodle Socks" (info below) are the traditional Irish Dance Socks that our ladies wear at class. Men can wear white sport socks to class.  Link for poodle socks are below.  At competitions and performances, Ladies wear opaque black tights, and men wear black dress socks.

FITNESS TOPS & BOTTOMS. We need to be able to see the dancer's knees & posture.  Dancers are encouraged to wear their Burke Connolly T-shirt & black shorts or fitted leggings to class. 
HAIR should be tied back and away from the face.        


Also check out: What's in My Irish Dance Bag? A Guide for New Irish Dancers!