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It’s All About Style

Celtic Steps Brings Irish Dance to Colorado Springs

Article by Lindsay Tallman

Photography by Shaun Casey / Autumn Dowdle / Tiffany Kimmel

Originally published in Colorado Springs Lifestyle

When Autumn Dowdle was just six years old, she saw the Celtic Steps Irish Dance Studio from Colorado Springs perform at the school where her mom was teaching. She was sold. Thirteen years later, she is still dancing and works as an instructor at the studio.

This style of dance is different and features a lot of fast feet movements. Dowdle calls it a unique blend of ballet and tap, but without using arms.

In 1994, Riverdance debuted at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin and sparked a new and exciting movement of Irish dancing. Since then, the demand for Irish dance studios has grown worldwide. Here in Colorado Springs, the Celtic Steps Irish Dance Studio is led by owners Aisling and Shaun Casey, who met while touring with the Lord of the Dance.  

Irish Dance in Colorado Springs

Celtic Steps plays a large role in bringing Irish culture to Colorado Springs. Recently, they participated in the 2023 Pikes Peak Celtic Festival at the Mining Museum. Most of the shows are around St. Patrick’s Day to promote Irish culture and they perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade every year. They also perform at a variety of schools, retirement homes and events throughout the year.

At a recent performance for a veterans’ event, the dancers dazzled the crowd in stunning one-of-a-kind costumes adorned with sequins. 

“Celtic Steps is the only Irish dance school in Colorado Springs," Dowdle says. "And we’ve done pretty well with regional competitions."

The show performances are a little more theatrical, but for competitions, the dance style is highly technical with synchronized movements. Dowdle says she finds a lot of similarities in how Irish dance and other types of dancing are taught and approached.

“Like all dance, it’s art,” she says.

Making Connections

Irish dance remains culturally significant in Ireland. Students often begin learning around age four, but there are options to learn at any age and level. At the Celtic Steps studio here in Colorado Springs, classes are grouped by level so a given class may have dancers of varying ages. The studio also offers adult classes and the first trial class is free.

Like anything, it’s often the personal connections that leave a lasting impression. When asked what has been the most rewarding thing about being a part of the Irish dance community, Dowdle says “I’ve made a lot of friendships and while the Irish dance community is fairly big, it’s also really small and we all know each other. Getting to meet everyone and just being able to grow up in this type of community has been really nice.”

Instagram: @celticsteps