Dance Program — Class Levels & Descriptions

The dance program in 2024 will offer a rotation of classes featuring Appalachian Old-Time and Irish Sean-nós with Armand Aromin, Cape Breton Step Dance with Sabra MacGillivray, and Québécois Step Dance with Pierre Chartrand. We will also offer a dedicated novice track in Irish Step Dance & Sean-nós with our Dance Director Kieran Jordan. Each day will begin with a 30-minute warm-up class so all dance students can move together, followed by two 60-minute level-specific core classes. Afternoons will include optional enrichment workshops, sessions, and social dances. Classes will incorporate a combination of recorded music and live music from our talented Artistic Work Study students.

This year we are offering FOUR levels of instruction — Moose (Novice), Harbor Seals (Relaxed Intermediate), Grey Seals (Fast Intermediate), and Bears (Advanced) – plus the Eagles (Pre-professional mixed-instrument/dance program).

Class content from each teacher will include: technique, repertoire, musicality, improvisation, as well as social dance. The material will be progressive, so you are encouraged to select the level that allows you to have your best dance experience when you register, or at the beginning of the week. (If you are uncertain which level will be the best match for your goals and skill set, we are happy to help advise you — click here for more info.)

Read below for detailed descriptions of the morning dance class levels:


The Moose (Novice)
This track is for students who are new to dance, or those returning to dance after a hiatus. A gently-paced class, with clear break-down of steps, plenty of repetition, slower tempos, as well as an introduction to the musical structures and history/cultural context for the Irish dance traditions. Students will work with Dance Director Kieran Jordan for a double morning period all week.


Harbor Seals (Relaxed Intermediate)
This track is for students who have some step dance and/or percussive dance experience in at least one style. Dancers can expect to move slowly and thoroughly through technical elements while building a repertoire of basic steps in each tradition. Students in this level will work with our dance faculty in rotation throughout the week.


Grey Seals (Fast Intermediate)
Dancers in this track should be comfortable dancing at traditional “session” tempos in at least one style, should have a few steps that they are able to dance comfortably on their own, and experience with creating/improvising in a class setting. Students in this level will work with our dance faculty in rotation throughout the week.


The Bears (Advanced)
This track is for experienced dancers who are confident dancing solo, and creating and improvising, with a solid understanding of musical structures. This class is intended for dancers who are seeking new repertoire and improved technique, as well as nuance in developing a personal style. Students in this level will work with our dance faculty in rotation throughout the week.


Plus! The Eagles (Pre-professional)
This exciting multi-instrumental program is focused on helping experienced players and dancers develop their artistry at the very highest level, and develop the skills they will need to become the next generation of “musical ambassadors” in traditional music! This track offers a limited number of spots for dancers — please contact the AFTMD Artistic Team for more info!

Click here for more info on the Eagle program.


The Acadia Festival of Traditional Music & Dance is governed by Friends of the Acadia Trad Festival, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Maine nonprofit corporation. Website art by Anabelle Keimach and Annelise Papinsick.