by: Kendall Moffett

Since she was a child, Nicole McKeever has been intrigued by Irish dance. From the influence of Irish music played by her parents, to taking part in dance with her childhood friends, Nicole has been drawn to the energy and community of Irish dance for as long as she can remember. After many years of practice and competition in New Jersey, Nicole was given the opportunity to be a 2012 participant of River Dance. When she finished touring, Nicole settled down in Sacramento where she decided to follow her dream of opening her own dance school. Bouncing back and forth between studios was not ideal – it made it harder for the school to grow. With this in mind, Nicole began searching for a dance space. A few weeks into the search, she came across CLARA. Soon after, Nicole met with CLARA’s property owners over coffee and the next thing she knew she was signing papers for a lease. At CLARA, Nicole has a feeling of safety as a business owner; in her first year at CLARA her class sizes doubled.

Nicole has it taken upon herself to host a feis, an Irish folk festival featuring competitions and traditional Irish music and dancing, after considering both Sacramento’s competitive dance environment and the importance that performance plays in student’s learning. From firsthand experience, Nicole knows that student’s skills improve quickly when they have a goal to work toward. By hosting a feis, the McKeever School of Irish Dance is hoping to nourish the community of Irish dance and help it flourish. With judges that are a part CLRG – the oldest and largest governing body for competitive Irish step – McKeever’s commitment to building a fair environment for local dancers and students is clear. With judges from CLRG, only the best dancers will become champions.

With dancers actively searching for competitions to take part in, the feis will surely be a success. To encourage people from outside the Sacramento region to participate, the feis will be advertised across media focusing on Irish dancing culture. Local businesses can also benefit from the feis, with sponsorships available for organizations to purchase. Each level of sponsorship is associated with a level of exposure for the feis audience. As the levels increase, each sponsoring organization’s visibility at the feis is enhanced for Sacramento, and visiting, audiences.