Catskill Irish Arts Week Logo
July 14-20 2024


Niall O’Leary


NIALL O’LEARY, TCRG, ADCRG, is a former All-Ireland and World Champion Irish dancer. He is from Dublin, but his parents are both from Kerry. His teachers included Kevin Massey (proclaimed by Michael Flatley to be the greatest Irish dancer ever) and Rory O’Connor, the first man to do Irish dancing on the radio.

O’Leary qualified as an Irish dance instructor in 1994. In 1996, he put together and choreographed the first-ever multi-national team to compete in the World Irish Dance Championships, including dancers from Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Botswana, the US and Ireland. Based in New York City, Niall O’Leary performs regularly as a solo artist, with his professional dance company, The Niall O’Leary Irish Dance Troupe, in duet with Darrah Carr, and with various acts such as Mick Moloney’s Green Fields of America, Natalie MacMaster, Cherish The Ladies, The Prodigals, and The Andy Cooney Band.

He is the Director of the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, with locations all over New York City, as well as Florida and Mexico.He conducts occasional workshops and master classes around the US , Ireland, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cuba. He has choreographed three productions of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’.

He is the Artistic Director of the New York City Irish Dance Festival presented by the Irish Arts Center in May each year. Also he has released an instructional video on Irish step dancing entitled Cuts from the Kitchen. Previously he has taught intensive dance classes at Augusta Irish Week and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

He is the founding chairman of Úll Mór CCE, the Manhattan branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. He plays piano-accordion, keyboards, bodhrán and spoons, and also practices as an architect. O’Leary was honored in 2004 by Irish America Magazine as one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans of the Year.

O’Leary is delighted to be making a return visit to CIAW this coming year: his last appearance at CIAW was in 1997! As well as performing high-energy percussive improvisational Irish dance, he will also be teaching ‘Celtic Tap Improv’: a contemporary investigation of foot percussion, involving syncopation and rhythmic variation: this class is suitable for all levels!

212 726 1602

More detailed class description:

Celtic Tap Improv classes (suitable for all ages, all levels) will focus on drawing out each dancers relationship with the music, exploring how to enhance the music’s vitality by dancing to it! Using syncopation and rhythmic variation, classes will consist of taking predefined rhythmic patterns and shifting them around to create innovative new choreography, and instruction will also be given on how to improvise to different kinds of music, mostly Irish music, but not just Irish music! This is not Irish Dance, this is not Tap, this is combining the best of both to create an exciting new genre! Ideally, dancers should have some prior experience of percussive dance: Irish step-dancing, Sean Nós dancing, Clogging, Tap or any dance that involves striking or stamping the floor!

Requirements: Sturdy shoes that you can strike the floor and make a sound with:
Irish hard shoes, tap shoes, clogs, boots or sturdy street shoes will suffice!