Starting a dance school is a great leap of faith. How did you discern this choice?
Sean and I met in Riverdance and toured North America together for three years. I am from Wauwatosa and Sean is from Cavan, Ireland. We got married in Milwaukee (at 20 and 22) and started our dance school originally out of the Third Ward, before moving to our current location in Glendale. I think starting our own dance school was a natural progression for us because we both love Irish dance so much and wanted to pass along our knowledge to the next generation. Teaching children is such a blessing because there is nothing better than watching their confidence grow with each new dance they learn.
Wow, Riverdance. Are you really Irish then?
While Sean is from Ireland originally, I am only a tiny bit Irish in heritage (I’m a hodge-podge but mostly German, Croatian and English). The great thing about Irish dance is you don’t have to have Irish heritage to want to learn Irish dance and be proud of it. I think it’s really important to try to preserve these traditions that have been passed down for generations, and I love that our own children are following in our footsteps in learning Irish dance. We have been lucky to travel to Ireland several times with all our children and introduce them more to their Irish heritage and family.
It’s lucky then, that you live in the city of festivals and we have Irish fest?
Irish Fest is one of our favorite times of the year. I love that Irish Fest gives you an opportunity to see all the local dance schools and their unique styles and takes on Irish dance. The music is always world class, as well. Our own children love seeing the Irish dog breeds and tricks they can do. We enjoy walking around the festival as a family, grabbing a baked potato and listening to the traditional music.
Tell me about your parish.
I absolutely love our parish, St. Stanislaus. We have been attending the Latin Mass for three years now and it has strengthened my faith so much. I love everything about our parish: the reverence, communion rails, confession available at every Mass, the incense, the music. The church itself is absolutely breathtaking — one of the most beautiful churches in the Milwaukee area. As a convert, I love that it has made me interested in learning more about our faith and the history of the Church.
You say you were a convert. Were you raised in a different tradition? How did you find yourself coming home to the Catholic Church?
I wasn’t brought up with any religion as a child. Being involved in Irish dance and around Irish culture as a child, though, I was surrounded by Catholic traditions, and I didn’t even know it. We got married in the Catholic Church, but I didn’t convert until I was pregnant with our first child. I was baptized, had First Communion and (was) confirmed a couple weeks after our oldest son was born. Over the years, we began to dig deeper into our faith as a family. I had constant questions even after going through RCIA. All this led me to the Latin Mass. I think the great thing about our faith is that there is always the opportunity to be learning and growing more.
I hear you’ve gotten into embroidering Irish Dance costumes now. How did that come about? Do the intricate patterns mean anything?
I have always been a pretty creative person, so I think getting into learning how the traditional Irish dance costumes were made was a natural progression. Originally, all the Irish dance costume designs came from the Book of Kells. You can see hints of this still in the costumes, but they are much more modern in comparison.