By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted on The Express Times website.
The O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance introduces its new studio, in Larry Holmes’ former gym at 228 Canal St. in Easton, on July 29, 2014. Photo Credit David Dabour | For lehighvalleylive.com
What started out as an Irish dance class in Maureen O’Grady’s father’s garage has transformed into a brand new Easton dance studio.
O’Grady, the owner of the O’Grady Quinlan Academy of Irish Dance, conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony today to unveil the school’s newest home at 228 W. Canal St., Larry Holmes’ former boxing gym.
Barbi Cousland, a parent of one of the dancers at the academy, said she bought the property because the dance academy outgrew its previous location on Willow Park Road in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania.
The new location features three dance studios with stage step flooring and cameras, two changing rooms, a viewing room where parents can watch their children train, and a store where Quinlan Academy apparel is sold.
While O’Grady Quinlan has other locations in the Lehigh Valley, Katherine Skehan, an Irish dance instructor at the academy, said the 8,000-square-foot studio will provide more space for the dancers.
“When you compete at World Championships the stage is the size of (studio C),” Skehan said. “So when we were practicing on the other stage we didn’t feel like we were turning those elite dancers to that level, so this is why this is our home location.”
Skehan said dancers of all levels will train at the Easton location, especially the elite dancers.
Brigid Rosendale, a dancer who commutes fives times a week from northern New Jersey to the school, is thrilled with the new studio.
“It means the world, especially that Barbi and my teachers put their time and effort into this, because we haven’t really had something this high-tech before,” Rosendale said. “Especially since the school is growing, it means that we will have more room for all of us to work harder and get better.”
O’Grady Quinlan is the only school in the Lehigh Valley registered with An Coimisiun le Gaelacha, the oldest and most prominent association of Irish dance in the world, according to its news release. The O’Grady Quinlan Academy instructs people of all ages from 4-year-old beginners to elite champions.
There are several O’Grady Quinlan satellite locations throughout the area, including Bethlehem, Allentown and New Jersey. O’Grady said those locations are for beginners getting excited about Irish dance.
“Once they get good at it, then hopefully they can come to our home base,” O’Grady said.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. was on hand to welcome the new business.
“Anytime a new business opens up in Easton we are very delighted. This one I enjoy the most because it has a lot of youth involved and you are learning something about the ethnic background and Irish culture,” Panto said.
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