Biography

Hannah DeRusha is a lifelong Irish dancer and both resides and teaches dance in Medford. She grew up in competitive Irish dance at the Griffith Academy in Wethersfield, CT. As an adult, she has explored the more traditional aspects of Irish Dance, including old-style step dancing, sean-nos, and set dancing. She is a long-time student of Kieran Jordan and has taken workshops with dance masters such as Michael Tubridy, Patrick O’Dea, Donny Golden, and Kevin Doyle. Hannah has taught Irish dance for over thirteen years. She enjoys teaching all ages of dance, though she particularly enjoys teaching young children, as she has a master’s degree in early childhood education. She enjoys teaching and performing both the beautiful, graceful aspects of soft shoe and the strong, percussive elements of hard-shoe dancing.

Hannah appears with her students from O'Riley Irish Dance. This program, founded by Jackie O'Riley in 2010 focuses on musicality, tradition, and community in exposing children to the world of Irish dance and music. Students from age four through high school join a centuries-old tradition and make it their own.

Photo Credit:
Hannah DeRusha in Childsplay, photo by Jason Jong
O’Riley Irish Dance Students, photos by Ted Castro

Artist Statement

O’Riley Irish Dance emphasizes musicality, tradition, and community.

Musicality – Irish dance is inherently connected with the music. Like classical ballet, the music began specifically to accompany the dancing. Students learn different types of tunes and what steps best accompany them. And of course, rhythm and timing are key! Students dance to live music as much as possible and learn to craft their own solos.

Tradition – Irish dance has been passed down from teacher to student since its beginnings. Students learn the stories behind the steps, not just the movements, with hopes that they will pass them on themselves someday.

Community – There is a wonderful Irish dance and music community in the greater Boston area, and we hope to connect our students to that. Through social dancing and community outreach such as dancing at the Medford Council on Aging, we help our students see how dancing can interact with their daily life and help them build friendships and connections.

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