Kieran Jordan, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is a performer, teacher, and choreographer of Irish dance. Born and raised in Philadelphia in an Irish American family, Kieran started Irish dancing at age five. As a teenager, she was inspired by the work of musician and folklorist Mick Moloney. She fell in love with traditional Irish music and has been performing as a featured solo dancer since her high school years.
Kieran has performed throughout North America and Europe, collaborating with some of today’s finest performers in Celtic music. Her style is fluid, musical, and expressive — combining the formal elegance of Irish step dance technique, with the playful, personal approach of improvised percussive dance. She has a particular passion for sean-nós (old-style) Irish dance and has become a major figure in introducing it to the USA. Her other influences include Cape Breton and French-Canadian step dance, as well as contemporary modern dance. With a physical presence on stage that is both grounded and expansive, Kieran’s dancing conveys vitality, subtlety, and an intuitive sense of rhythm.
Kieran has been honored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council with an Artist Fellowship and a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant. She has a Master’s Degree in Contemporary Dance Performance from University of Limerick, Ireland, and a B.A. from Boston College in English and Irish Studies. She also holds An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha T.C.R.G. certification for teaching Irish Dance.
A self-employed teacher for more than 10 years, Kieran teaches non-competitive Irish dance for teens and adults at all levels. Her programs include traditional Irish dance, sean-nós dance, choreography, improvisation, the history of Irish dance, and collaborations with live music. She is Co-Director of Boston Percussive Dance in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also teaches at Boston College, at the Catskills Irish Arts Week in New York, and as a guest artist at universities, festivals, and Irish dancing schools worldwide.
Bringing an original voice to Irish dance on stage, Kieran’s unique approach to choreography marries deep-rooted traditions with contemporary innovations. She has choreographed and directed dance production for A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn, Childsplay, and other productions. She performs and choreographs regularly for her own ensembles, Kieran Jordan Dancers and The Sole Mates.
Kieran has produced two DVDs on old style Irish dance — a documentary called Secrets of the Sole, with dancers Kevin Doyle and Aidan Vaughan, and a sean-nós dance instructional video called Musical Feet! Her percussive footwork has been featured on several audio recordings as well, including a 2011 self-titled CD by Triptych (Laura Risk, Kieran Jordan, Paddy League).
Performance and Choreography
Since 2004, Kieran has worked as Dance Director for A Christmas Celtic Sojourn — a touring theater production that plays to 10,0000 people in New England each December. Serving on the artistic team with WGBH Producer Brian O’Donovan, Artistic Director Paula Plum, and Music Director Seamus Egan, she has contributed original choreography to the show each year. She has also performed in a leading dance role, with musicians such as Liz Carroll and John Doyle, Karan Casey and Niall Vallely, Danú, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, the Mulcahy Family, Sharon Shannon, and Solas, and dancers Darrah Carr and Niall O’Leary, Kevin Doyle, Nic Gareiss, Maldon Meehan, Mats Melin, Ronan Regan, Aidan Vaughan, and Nicholas Yenson. Her work is featured on the DVD A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, Live.
Kieran has toured extensively with Triptych (Laura Risk and Paddy League), Kitchen Quartet (Shannon Dunne, Sean McComiskey, and Cleek Schrey), and Matt and Shannon Heaton. She danced at Mick Moloney’s 2008 gala performance “Irish Musicians for the Mercy Centre” at Peter Norton Symphony Space, New York. In 2009, she performed for the President of Ireland Mary McAleese, on her visit to Boston. Other appearances include concerts with Sarah Blair, Kevin Burke, Hanneke Cassel and Tony McManus, Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly, and Paul DeGrae, Ben Power, Childsplay, Téada, and many musicians in the Boston session scene.
International festival performances include the Falun Folk Festival (Sweden), Festival International des Arts Traditionnels (Québec), Festival Mémoire et Racines (Québec), Magnetic Music/Irish Heartbeat Festival Tours (Germany and Switzerland), Re-Jigged Festival (Nova Scotia), and the Sionna Festival (Ireland), as well as Boston Celtic Music Festival, Gaelic Roots Festival (Boston), ICONS Festival (Massachusetts), New World Festival (Vermont), New York City Irish Dance Festival, North Texas Irish Festival, Sean-nós Northwest (Washington), and the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Festival (Colorado).
Kieran co-directed, choreographed, and performed in the shows Rhythm Underfoot at Springstep (2004) and Celtic Fiddle and Dance at the Regent Theatre (2005). She curated dance events for the ICONS Festival (2007), initiating the ensemble American Women in Sean-nós Dance. She has also choreographed for Belisama Irish Dance Company (New Mexico) and Dancing at Lughnasa at Providence College (Rhode Island). Other venues where she has shown her work include The Dance Complex (Shared Choreographers and Faculty Concerts) Jacob’s Pillow, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and Siamsa Tire, Tralee.
Kieran began teaching in 2001 at the Blackstone River Theatre in Rhode Island. In partnership with Artistic Director Russell Gusetti, she designed an innovative program for adults that combined Irish dance technique with lectures and video viewings on the history of Irish dance. After two years there, she turned her focus to the Boston area, where her classes, workshops, and student performances have become a popular component in Boston’s lively Irish cultural scene. Kieran based her programs for many years at the Dance Complex, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and the Brookline Community Center for the Arts, until co-founding Boston Percussive Dance with tap dancer Julia Boynton in 2009.
In addition, she taught for two years in the Dance Department at Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, Massachusetts), creating a fully-credited studio/academic course in Irish dance. She has given lectures and workshops at Bridgewater State University, University of California-San Diego, University of Limerick, Ireland, Villanova University, and Williams College. She taught for summer intensives at the Blás International Summer School (Ireland), Beantown Tap Fest (Massachusetts), Catskills Irish Arts Week (New York), Pinewoods Dance Camp (Massachusetts), and Vanaver Caravan Summer Dance (New York), as well as a professional training workshop for Danse Traditionnelle Québec.
Training and Influences
As a young dancer with the Timoney, Coyle, McHugh, and DeNogla schools in the Philadelphia area, Kieran was exposed to a wide range of Irish dance traditions — from community céilís to the highly technical world of feiseanna or competitions. She competed regionally and nationally for 14 years, reaching the open championship level.
A performer at heart, she spent her high school years seeking out theater, music, and dance in many genres. She performed frequently as a solo dancer with Mick Moloney, Eugene O’Donnell, and Seamus Egan throughout the Philadelphia area. She also performed twice at Radio City Music Hall, New York, in the Frank Patterson St. Patrick’s Day Spectacular. In 1992, she won the first Cyril McNiff Memorial Scholarship, given by the Irish Dance Teachers’ Association of North America.
As a student at Boston College, Kieran immersed herself in Boston’s thriving Irish music scene, dancing at sessions and concerts alongside musicians such as Seamus Connolly, Paddy Keenan, Laurel Martin, Jimmy Noonan, and Mark Simos. She spent her Junior Year Abroad at University College, Cork, Ireland, where she had the privilege to study with Dance Master Joe O’Donovan. This experience became a defining influence and kindled her passion for old-style, music-driven Irish dance.
Kieran performed for several years with the Rhode Island group Pendragon, creating popular duets with Kevin Doyle — her long-time friend and dance partner. Other influences and teachers include Melody Cameron (Cape Breton set dance), Pierre Chartrand (Québecois step dance), Róisín Ní Mhainín (sean-nós), Donncha O Muimhneacháin (Irish step dance), Sandy Silva (percussive dance), and Choreographer Mary Beth Griffith, whose work she performed in the Fireside Theatre’s production of And They Called It Ireland.
At age 30, Kieran moved once again to Ireland, to pursue a performance degree at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at University of Limerick. Her tutors included contemporary dance artists such as Michael Klien, Mary Nunan, Liz and Jenny Roche, and Mark Taylor. During this time, Kieran also designed and completed an independent project in sean-nós dance with County Clare dance master Aidan Vaughan, whose battering, close-to-the-floor footwork still inspires her own sean-nós dancing.
She has taken other sean-nós dance workshops with the Devaney Brothers, Paul Moran, Patrick O’Dea, Paraic O hOibicin, and Michael Tubridy. She continues to study contemporary dance and improvisation, and has taken classes and workshops in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., with Olivier Besson, Debra Bluth, Daniel Charon, Irene Dowd, Eric Franklin, Jody Weber, and Gwen Welliver.
Kieran lives with her husband, artist Vincent Crotty, in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
- 2011 Best Irish Dance Class In Boston, City Voter Boston A-List
- 2010 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, Massachusetts Cultural Council
- 2009 Golden Bridges Award, Irish Echo and Boston Irish Reporter
- 2008 Artist Fellowship, Massachusetts Cultural Council
- 2004 Irish Connections Festival Commission, Irish Cultural Centre of New England
- 2009 Musical Feet! by Kieran Jordan
- 2008 Secrets of the Sole by Kieran Jordan
- 2008 Winter, A Meditation by Aine Minogue
- 2007 A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, Live by Brian O’Donovan/WGBH
- 2011 Triptych by Laura Risk, Kieran Jordan, and Paddy League
- 2009 Comb Your Hair and Curl It by Amanda Cavanaugh
- 2009 Lovers’ Well by Matt and Shannon Heaton
- 2002 Childsplay Live by Childsplay
- 2001 Finding Our Way Home by Pendragon
- Boston Irish Reporter
- Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine
- Irish Edition
- Irish Music Magazine