Toráin Academy of Irish Dance
ABOUT US
The Toráin Academy of Irish Dance (formally the  Huntsville Irish Dancers) has performed with local Irish bands and groups including SlipJig., Kinvara, Maple Hill, Henri’s Notions, The Huntsville Community Chorus and traveling groups including Grammy award winning Cherish the Ladies and fiddle extraordinaire Eileen Ivers. We’ve hosted workshops taught by a Riverdance lead dancer and the leads of Lord of the Dance. We’ve peformed in regular events including the The Tennessee Valley Scottish Society’s annual Scottish Festival, the Huntsville Christmas and St. Patrick’s day parades, Athens Art on The Square, and The Paul Stroud Concerts by the river in Decatur.
 
We teach Irish Dance with the firm philosophy of individual attention to each dancer’s needs and first conditioning the body and teaching proper technique before requiring dancers to perform complex steps or choreography. For example, we feature small class sizes and combine technique drilling, stretching and pilates into regular classes. This establishes a proper foundation and helps our dancers progress rapidly with minimal risk of injury.
Competitively we are a branch of the O'Faolain Academy of Irish Dance in St. Louis under the direction of Jennifer O'Faolain Bartley TCRG. We are also members of An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha (Irish Dance Commission) in Dublin, Ireland. This allows our dancers to attend feisanna (competitions) sanctioned by An Com. We are the only certified school in North Alabama.

At T.A.I.D, we feel that competing at feisanna ( "feshonna") offers students much more than  medals and trophies. A positive competitive experience can help dancers develop confidence, poise and life skills they will carry with them forever. Our dancers learn to set goals and work individually and together as a team to achieve those goals. In the process, they develop high standards for themselves, a rigorous work ethic, self-confidence and positive self-esteem.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
                                                                                      First feisers with their medals.
 
          Another first in Champs!                                                                                                                                      3rd place in Champs!
                   
 
We work to provide unique opportunities for our students, which helps them become more well-rounded dancers. Our dancers compete on average of once a month and in doing so keep their skill and technique razor sharp. We believe "feising" ("feshing" -competing) should be an environment for dancers to perform and receive constructive feedback from seasoned judges. Competitions are wonderful places to meet students from other schools, be inspired by talented dancers and grow as a competitor and performer.

Our focus is on the learning journey, not the 1st places.  This approach encourages our dancers to always strive to do their best and learn from both successes and disappointments. We believe that competing may not be for everyone, but can offer amazing opportunities for dancers who choose to participate.

 
Founders
Director DeeAnna Thorn Heym has been dancing since the age of 3 starting with ballet and then later tap, jazz and gymnastics as well as 13 years playing sports. Always in pursuit of learning she then transitioned into Irish studying in Nashville with Mary Moran, TCRG and also in London, England.
 
DeeAnna successfully reached the championship level in solo Irish dance. DeeAnna has a background in exercise physiology which guides her teaching philosophy. DeeAnna is also a certified Emergency First Responder, certified in first aid and CPR for infants, children and adults.
 
Because of DeeAnna’s background all dancers are taught on proper sprung flooring and from an anatomically sound perspective, emphasizing conditioning, technique and injury-prevention first and foremost. This forms a foundation for more advanced elements of Irish Dance. Proper technique in Irish Dance is both aesthetically correct and reduces risk of injury.
 

Jason Heym started in ballroom dance and figure skating before becoming addicted to Irish dance in 1998 studying under Helen Gannon, TCRG of St. Louis Irish Arts. Jason moved to Tennessee in 2000, studying, competing and performing under Mary Moran, TCRG. As an Irish dancer he has competed and performed throughout the southeast and midwest in both solo and group (Ceili) dancing, placing at the regional championship level in Ceili dancing. Jason has also performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage and with the Chieftains. Jason’s dancing with the Chieftains was featured on the Down The Old Plank Road DVD.
Jason assists DeeAnna in class when his schedule allows. Jason also plays traditional Irish fiddle and is an accomplished software/optical engineer and quantitative financial analyst.
 
 

Why dance with us?
 
We promote and teach Irish dance because we truly love it. We have dedicated our lives to teaching Irish Dance and to our students. We bring many years of Irish dance experience to the Huntsville and Madison area. We provide a fun, rewarding and healthy experience for all our students, regardless of age, ability and interest level. We create opportunities for our dancers to express themselves. In 2010 our Huntsville dancers peformed in 18 public performances in and around Huntsville. Rather than prepare for two shows a year in December and May/June, we perform all year!
 
Our dancers are taught a solid technique foundation followed by both traditional and modern material. All dancers are taught proper, competition-quality technique from the very beginning, even if they only seek a fun hobby, exercise,or the occasional performance. Improper technique, once learned, is not only extremely difficult to unlearn later, it also raises the risk of injury. Irish Dance involves a tremendous amount of body movement without the aid of the arms. This makes proper lower body technique exceptionally important.
 
You may wonder why there is a need to attend a certified versus non certified Irish dance school, especially if your dancer's goals are recreational rather than competitive.  There is no need, per se, however, being a part of a school that is a certified, registered member of An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha (the world governing body of Irish dance, located in Dublin, Ireland) insures that your dancers are receiving the highest standard of instruction, true to the Irish tradition, at the highest standard of excellence.  Only certified schools are recognized as legitimate institutions of Irish dance instruction.  It takes YEARS of study and testing to become certified.  By attending a certified school, you can be certain that your student is being taught by high-quality instructors who have not taught themselves to dance from a video! Non-certified schools cannot do this, and as a result, rarely, if ever, match the level of instruction provided by certified school.
 
 
 
Toráin Academy of Irish Dance