At the New Century, we believe that traditional music and dancing are a strong foundation for a rich intellectual and creative life. The areas we train—musicianship, technique, music theory, history, and repertoire—translate well into baroque and classical music, but they are uniquely suited for taking part in the lively cultural network that spans the Irish diaspora. A good Irish musician or dancer can trade on his skills almost anywhere in the world, and always has an introduction in a local traditional music community.
We teach Irish traditional music out of an amalgamated Clare, East Galway, and Limerick style that emigrated to Maryland in the 1970s via New York. Our local style is moderately paced and carefully ornamented. In our community are top-shelf players and teachers on the fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes, button accordion, concertina, tenor banjo, mandolin, piano, guitar, bouzouki, harp, bodhrán, and céili drums. Between Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, we also have several expert traditional singers who are highly and widely regarded for their accomplishment and large repertoires. Our students have the opportunity to learn from any of these musicians.
We teach Irish dancing out of a mostly Munster tradition that originated with dancing masters in the late 18th or early 19th century. Our students learn steps and figures as well as technique and stagecraft. Our focus is on turning out students who know Irish traditional music well and can put forward beautiful steps in an elegant, metrical style with clean technique.
At the New Century, we believe that accomplishment can be measured objectively in terms of technical skill, stylistic mastery, well-roundedness, and good character. We believe that every student is unique, and will excel in a unique way if given the right opportunities. We prepare our students for a musical life, and hope that they will seize the opportunity to become artists and tradition bearers in their own right.
Our classes fall into three semesters: Winter/Spring, Summer, and Autumn spanning January to June, June to August, and September to December, respectively, with several-weeks break for August vacations and Christmas. See the New Century Calendar for the current dates. Private lessons do not follow semesters or take "breaks".
SPECIAL WORKSHOPS & MASTER CLASSES
The New Century holds special workshops and master classes with local and visiting artists. These are valuable opportunities for our students to learn repertoire and style from master artists other than their teachers, and to gain exposure to a range of perspectives on music and dancing. We host between four and six workshops and/or masterclasses each year.
We offer group make-up classes for scheduled student absences and illnesses. Each semester contains a proportional number of make-up sessions per class: four in winter/spring, one in summer, and two in autumn. These classes will be scheduled at the discretion of the instructor. Snow cancellations will be addressed individually.
We are careful to prevent the transmission of contagions, epidemics, and other boogery outbreaks through our studio. If our teachers are sick, we will cancel class or schedule a substitute teacher. If you or your little patient zero are feeling a tickle, please stay home, and avoid us as though we have the plague.
New Century classes follow Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ snow closure policy. If school is in session, we will hold classes, barring other notice. Cancellation of private lessons due to blizzards, penguin uprisings, and the unyielding malice of snow queens is at the discretion of the instructor.
One-on-one lessons separate from or in addition to the scheduled dance classes are available.
We accept payment for classes in cash or checks, or on credit and debit cards via the New Century Irish-Arts Store. Sorry, our accountant says we can no longer accept payment in the form of snap bracelets or unruly children.
We recommend basic clogging oxfords for our kids classes. These shoes come in children's sizes, and there is a supply of lightly used shoes in circulation locally. Adults can wear any leather-soled shoe or taps. Students in the intermediate class will be expected to move into a tap shoe for performance.
For class: We recommend wearing comfortable clothes. Many students and instructors wear sleek, 21st century workout garments; others wear jeans. Wet/dry/hazmat suits are not appropriate.
For Performance: We require students to observe a dress code for class performances, but we are strictly committed to freedom of expression within that model. Past dress codes have stated, for instance, "a nice shirt in a shade of blue with black pants or black skirt". In our opinion, the most important consideration in dressing for performance is to show respect for the art form and the people who wrought it, but that consideration should leave room for the performer to be himself or herself—gently.