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Irish dancers prepare for Missoula St. Patrick's Day parade return

Posted at 2:30 PM, Mar 09, 2023

MISSOULA — As the St. Patrick’s Day parade returns to Missoula Saturday, a group of energetic children is preparing to dance their way along the route. 18 students at the Carrol Henderson School of Irish Dance have practiced their performances since the start of the year, learning the traditional art form that school owner Anna Grussling says is perfect for children.

“I know kids are really drawn to the bounciness and jumping,” Grussling said. “It can be really freeing as compared to other forms that might be more rigid than what’s expected.”

Irish dance usually involves keeping the arms close to the body while the dancer kicks their legs and stomps their feet. During dance class Wednesday, students practiced Ceili, group dances that traditionally involved several members of a family.

Grussling said performing in the parade will go a long way in showing the dancers that the art they learn is part of a bigger culture that is still active in Montana.

“I think it’s really fun for kids to have a connection to the holiday because it’s not just green and shamrocks,” Grussling said. “We talk about what it means to share traditional Irish history and heritage.”

The Carrol Henderson School of Irish Dance has three chapters, two in Washington, and one in Missoula. Grussling opened the Missoula chapter in August, after she found the community had a growing interest in the art form.

Along with performing in Saturday’s parade, the dancers will host a community performance at the Imaginarium inside the Missoula Public Library Sunday from 1-2 p.m. The second half-hour will feature a community lesson, so if you’d like to stomp along, Grussling said she’d love to see you there.