The McNulty School of Irish Dance has grown into one of the largest, most active dance schools across the nation. McNulty’s program is designed to challenge each dancer to achieve his or her personal best – both on and off the dance floor. McNulty offers a wide range of classes for students ages 3 through adults in several South Bay locations, including Torrance, Rolling Hills Estates, & San Pedro. They also have a location in Costa Mesa.
Get your dancing shoes ready, because we are shining a spotlight on The McNulty School of Irish Dance!
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Community Spotlight: McNulty School of Irish Dance
Please tell us about The McNulty School of Irish Dance
From humble beginnings in Chicago, the McNulty School of Irish Dance has grown into one of the largest, most active dance schools across the nation, with locations now in Torrance, Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro, and Costa Mesa, California.
Our program is designed to challenge each dancer to achieve his or her personal best – both on and off the dance floor. Students develop self-discipline, concentration skills, mental and physical coordination, teamwork, self-esteem, and self-efficacy that serve them well in all facets of life. Whether your dancer has ambitions to compete around the world, perform throughout the nation, or simply to dance for the fitness and fun of it, The McNulty School of Irish Dance will help you achieve your goals! For the Irish-American family, dance is a great way to stay connected with one’s heritage. Yet, Irish dance offers tremendous opportunities to all students, regardless of race, age, sex, cultural or ethnic background.
The McNulty School of Irish Dance offers specialized Mommy & Me classes or (or Daddy/Grammy/Guardian) for families with dancers under 3 years old, Riverdance: The Animated Movie themed classes for ages 3-6, youth and teen new beginner through Champion programs, boys only classes, the McNulty Junior Company of performers, as well as adult céilí and Irish step-dancing classes. We believe Irish Dance is an art form to be cherished, passed on to our children, and shared with the world. We strive to support, educate, and encourage our dancers by providing praise and structure, as well as internal and external rewards systems, such as the ‘McNulty Method’ of advancement through our 12 level system, fun and inclusive performance opportunities all year long, and an optional competition track for the hard working home practicer.
The McNulty School offers not only Irish Dance classes, but week long camps during summer and winter breaks, as well as family and cultural events such as trips to Ireland, annual McNulty Feis & Fleadh, The Irish Fair & Music Festival, quarterly Rambling Houses, and monthly Irish music and dance workshops for the whole family. Priding ourselves on cultural education, the McNulty School is one of very few schools who still teach all 30 traditional ceili (group) dances in the Ar Rinci Céilí book by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG) (the oldest and largest governing body for Irish dancing in the world) which promotes team building, teamwork, leadership development, responsibility, and kinesthetic empathy.
Tell us a little about you:
The McNulty School of Irish Dance, Los Angeles, opened in 2013 under the direction of Erin Kathleen Scott-Haines. Erin is a certified Irish Dance teacher, or Teagascóir Choimisiún le Rinci Gaelacha (TCRG) affiliated with An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, who began dancing with the McNulty School of Irish Dance in Chicago at the age of 4. After years of performing and competing, Erin started teaching with the McNulty School in Chicago, where she is from. Erin has over 20 years of teaching experience, including directing and choreographing for the touring McNulty Performance Troupe and McNulty Company. Erin moved to California after receiving a Masters degree in dance/movement psychotherapy and counseling in 2008. In addition to being a professional Irish dancer, she has training and teaching experience in various styles of dance ranging from ballet to hip hop, and her passion for the South Bay and Orange County locations is in leadership development and self-esteem building. Besides teaching dance, Erin has a career as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor specializing in teen development, and currently serves on the Operations Team of the 3rd largest behavioral health organization in the nation, overseeing clinical quality and professional and personal development for 30 mental health facilities for ages 11-adult across the nation. Erin was Irish Woman of the Year for the city of Los Angeles for 3 years in a row, is the founder of California Irish Arts, and also founded and serves on the board of Ceol na nAingeal, Los Angeles’ chapter of Irish music fellowship Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
What inspired you to launch The McNulty School of Irish Dance?
Having been an Irish dancer since I was 4, and teaching since I was 15, it was a no brainer that I’d be Irish dancing for the rest of my life! I didn’t, however, really plan on that being anywhere except in Chicago, where I grew up. I moved in with relatives in Palos Verdes in 2008 to finish my thesis and gain some work experience as a mental health therapist, and was planning to move back to Chicago in a year or two. Well, a year turned into a few, and a few turned into five, at which point I decided to admit to myself that the South Bay had captured my heart and I wasn’t going back to the Windy City. So in 2013 I began teaching Irish Dance again, at that time I was working at Marymount California University in the psychology department and in the counseling center, so our first classes were at the college on the hill. Then when I moved to Redondo Beach, we picked up classes there. And as I found new homes and advanced in my career, we opened up locations anywhere nearby!
In the Irish Dance world, competition is a big deal. But Irish Dance and traditional Irish culture (the language, trad music, etc) is dying out, and my inspiration for the McNulty School is to focus on performance so that the general public is exposed to the beauty of Irish Dance and music, and hopefully inspired to take classes and keep the tradition alive. Although our dancers have much success in competition, I do believe it’s because of their passion in performing and the connection they feel to all of what they have learned about traditional Irish culture, whether they are Irish-American or not. It’s important to me that our dancers learn the stories behind each dance, where the dance comes from, and hopefully are inspired to attend our summer or winter camps to broaden their horizons on everything else the McNulty School has to offer- from Irish sports, music, art, history, geography, and of course, dance!
What is one of your proudest moments?
One of my proudest moments since opening the school probably has to be becoming Irish Woman of the Year for the city of Los Angeles. Running a successful dance school, performing for big name artists, and winning competitions is a feat, but what I am proud of is how much we have accomplished in the community, and the reputation our school and dancers have made for their professionalism and community service. Our McNulty Parents Club has taken it to the next level, and many members serve on the board of the non-profit we founded, California Irish Arts. Through the CIA, with the McNulty School, we throw many events throughout the year that bridge the generational gap, and are imperative for the passing down of stories, dances, songs, and memories of Ireland. One example, our “Rambling Houses” as they are called, are a successful community event which educate our youth and invigorate our elders. Because you can’t have dance without music, Ms. Erin also founded the Los Angeles chapter of the world wide Irish music fellowship Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Ceol na nAingeal (music of the angels). This connection has allowed for our dancers to learn so many Irish instruments- harp, Uillean pipes, tin whistle, fiddle, Bodhrán, not to mention, singing in Irish! Ms. Erin also serves on the board of the Irish Fair Foundation, writing grants to support traditional Irish music and dance instruction at the annual Irish Fair. Ms. Erin, The McNulty dancers, and Ceol na nAingeal run several dance and music stages at the fair every year with the help of all of our parents and fellow artists. It is because of the bridging of gaps between dance, music, and community outreach, that Ms. Erin was honored by the Mayor at City Hall as Irish Woman of the Year.
What can one expect when taking classes at The McNulty School of Irish Dance?
I think the biggest surprise for most families when joining the McNulty School, that exceeds their expectations, is that we pride ourselves on being McNulty Family. Irish Dance is kind of a niche activity, and although we welcome ALL dancers and families from ALL backgrounds, class sizes stay smaller than your average ballet or hip hop class, and family involvement runs high due to all of the various performances and activities that the school offers. It’s not just dance classes, the school becomes a network of tight knit families whose dancers work hard together and play harder! We have McNulty Family Days which are extra fun shows where the whole family comes and hangs out- be it amusement parks, the race track, festivals, ice skating, parades, and of course, St. Patrick’s Day! McNulty Pride is a big theme too.
We provide a really structured curriculum so that dancers really feel that they are in a school- not just learning random dances, but graduating through grade levels. After joining and receiving our handbook and folder, dancers can see the outline for 15 years of Irish Dance education layed out in front of them, and they work to “pass” dances and advance to the next level. This, paired with the parallel grade exams offered through An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha, offers even non-competitive dancers opportunities to receive certificates of achievement and feedback from Irish Dance adjudicators. Our leadership program is also unparalleled in the Irish Dance community. We offer teen dancers advancing through the grades opportunities to become apprentice and assistant teachers, take on “officer” and leadership positions in our Junior Company, and participate in Big Brother/Big Sister mentorship programs with our younger dancers.
Our dancers are all asked to wear all black every dance class so that the focus is on their dancing, and their unity, not their dance class fashion choices. A typical class consists of equal portions fitness and flexibility training, ceili and figure or group team dances, and individual solo advancement practice. Probably one of the biggest differences between Irish Dance classes and other dance styles is the individualized learning pace. Whether a dancer needs more time in class due to lack of time for home practice, or is a super quick learner and wants to speed ahead, solo dancing offers each dancer time to work on whatever steps are in their level, and receive personalized feedback. So although the team dancing portion of class is great fun, dancers also have the opportunity to work on their own (under teacher supervision) to advance as slowly or quickly as they feel comfortable. One of the most intimidating things about joining a dance class is the fear of not being able to keep up, and what’s great about the McNulty Method is that dancers have the opportunity for both group inspiration as well as individual rehearsal, which sets every dancer up for success!
What do you enjoy doing in the South Bay when you are not working?
Hmmm….I’m pretty much a workaholic, lol. Because I work a demanding day job- Irish Dance is my passion and is what I’m working on in every off moment. I don’t really see it as “work,” although it is my small business. I’d say that when I’m not teaching classes, I’m usually coming up with creative ways to streamline our processes, inventing new Irish Dance tools for success, supporting my dancers at competitions around the world, or choreographing new pieces for our Junior Company! I try to go to as many Irish music concerts and sessions as possible, so if you hear of one, let me know!
How do you give back to the community?
The McNulty School of Irish Dance performs community service via community outreach performances throughout the year. Most often this is at senior living facilities, centers for the developmentally delayed, Relay for Life, or just general performances for public awareness- such as parades and community events. We also contribute to various charitable organizations throughout the year, hosting canned food drives, toy drives, and clothing drives for those in need. The McNulty School also often partners often with the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society and volunteers and raises money for wounded officers and veterans.
Anything else you would like us to include?
BOYS can Irish Dance too! We offer Boys Only Classes! And boys are welcome in all of our regular classes as well! And on top of that, we offer family discounts- 10% off for each additional dancer! We also offer ADULT classes! Adults can learn group ceili dances or Irish step dancing at some of our locations! Mommy (Daddy/Grammy/Guardian) & Me Classes are available for families with a dancer under 2 years old, and our Riverdance themed classes are for dancers ages 3-6! Dancers can start learning at any age, teen and new beginner adults are very welcome! We have locations all over the South Bay and Orange County!
One of the most fun activities for our dancers is our annual Irish Culture Camps, held in the summer during the first week in August, and during the winter over holiday break. There is a separate teen and youth track for camp, and camp runs from 9am to 6pm for one whole week- that’s 45 hours of education! Campers learn from experts in Irish sports such as Gaelic football and Hurling from the Gaelic Athletic Association, local professional artists from Ceol na nAingeal who instruct in Irish singing and music (harp, fiddle, tin whistle, Uillean pipes, Bodhrán, concertina, and more!), and teachers from Conradh na Gaeilge teach campers how to speak Irish! We have special guests for fitness who cross train in Pilates and Barre, and all dancers receive history and culture lessons that enrich their camp experience with legends, myths, stories, and tales of times and places throughout Ireland. We have a huge Irish library, storytellers, lunch and learn movie time, and kids learn tons of traditional games that they continue to play throughout the year! Previous camp themes have included Mythical Magical Mystical Ireland, Ancient Ireland: Ireland in the Iron Age, Munster Camp: Kerry Cork & Limerick, and the Book of Kells; dancers love learning specially themed choreography that we incorporate into our performance repertoire.
We are offering 50% off all summer classes (through August 31st, 2021) for new beginners (ages 3-adult) in all three of our locations: Torrance, Costa Mesa, and Rolling Hills Estates!
- We always offer First class FREE!
- Check us out on Groupon, we usually have offers running!
- 10% Discount for each additional sibling/family member, including parents in our adult class!
- Refer a friend and receive 50% off your next session’s tuition!