|The Clark Academy of Irish Dance offers lessons for children and adults age 4 and up interested in recreational or competitive Irish Dance. The school believes in building self-esteem and self-fulfillment of students through positive reinforcement and encouragement. Dancers have the opportunity to take part in public performances such as festivals, cultural celebrations, private events, the St. Patrick’s Day Parades, and television appearances. The Clark Academy Irish Dancers also take part in local, regional, national, and world competitions.
The Clark Academy promotes a healthy, balanced lifestyle for all dancers, and we welcome new beginners all year round.
MARY JO CLARK-CANGE,TCRG: Owner, Director, Choreographer, Instructor, has been Irish Dancing since the age of 12. Throughout her years as an Irish Dancer, Mary Jo has placed top 3 at Regionals, top 10 at Nationals, top 15 at All-Irelands, and top 25 at World Championships. She has traveled to Ireland for training and competition on numerous occasions, and has also competed in Scotland, Canada, and various cities across the United States.
Mary Jo attended Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and was also selected as captain of the first ever Webster University Women’s Soccer Team. She scored 19 goals in her first season, and rounded out her four years with 4 conference championships and over 50 goals.
After graduating college in 2005, Mary Jo was selected to audition for the highly acclaimed Broadway show, Riverdance. After completing a week long audition in Philadelphia, Mary Jo got the invitation to become part of the cast of the distinguished production! Mary Jo enthusiastically jumped on board, and in addition to her spot as an Irish Dancer, she became an Assistant Stage Manager, and drummer in the show.
Through her experience in Riverdance, Mary Jo enriched her passion, knowledge, and real-world experience necessary to jump start the Clark Academy. Upon her return from 3 years of dancing in front of thousands of people in hundreds of theatres across North America (including 2 appearances at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in STL), the Clark Academy was born.
In January 2007, Mary Jo acquired her TCRG (honors), which certifies her as an Irish Dancing teacher under An Coimisuin le Rinci Gaelacha, The Irish Dancing Commission based out of Dublin Ireland. Mary Jo is a registered member of the IDTAMA and IDTANA. She is thrilled and excited to be heading the newest Irish Dancing School in St. Louis, and looks forward to an exciting future!
PATTY DARRAH, TCRG/ADCRG: Is the latest addition to The Clark Academy teaching staff. Patty has been involved in Irish dancing since the age of 9, under the tutelage of the well-known and highly respected Rita O’Shea of Boston, MA. Patty placed in the top 3 several times at the New England Oireachtas, and was a World Qualifier on all of these occasions. Patty displays an incredible passion for teaching, along with an extensive background in producng fantastic ceili and choreography teams.
After retiring from Irish Dancing, Patty took her love of dance on to a new arena, earning one of 19 coveted spots as a cheerleader for the New England Patriots (500 auditioned)! She was a six-year member and earned captain five of those years. She was voted Cheerleader-of-the-Year and represented the New England Patriots at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Patty was a backup dancer for Dion Sanders debut concert, and performed with Santana. During and after her experience with the Patriots, Patty has successfully directed and choreographed for several dance teams & productions, television shows & more!
In 2000, Patty moved to St. Louis. Being settled in St Louis allowed Patty the opportunity to teach her first love, Irish dance, at Graham Academy. With the encouragement and support of Kathleen Graham-Kelly, Patty received her TCRG in March, 2007, passing with Honors. Patty has helped students and teams win Regional and National titles as well as World medals. She is a registered member of the IDTANA and IDTAMA.
In March, 2010, Patty passed the ADCRG exam making her the first and only adjudicator in Missouri. Patty is very excited to join Mary Jo at CAID, and continue to create a positive, happy environment where children can grow, create and have fun!!