MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS & STAFF
The Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance is fortunate to have the largest and most experienced teaching staff in the Washington, DC metro area. Our talented and qualified staff ensures that each student receives individual attention and instruction.The experience our instructors bring to the school — from competing at the regional, national and world championships to learning Irish dance as an adult — provides all of our students with a wide base of knowledge.
Sean Culkin, Founder/Owner/Director, TCRG
Sean began Irish dancing at the age of 6 with Peggy O’Neill, ADCRG. In 1995 he earned his TCRG and began teaching adults. He founded the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance in April 1997. In addition to being director, he is the main instructor for many classes. Sean has many connections to the Irish Community here in the DC area and has been an active Branch Officer of the of the Washington, DC branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE). CCE is part of a global organization devoted to traditional Irish music and culture. Since the school’s inception, Sean has made it possible for his dancers to perform at The Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Wolftrap, BlackRock Center for the Arts, The White House, The Irish Embassy and many other esteemed venues. Sean has been on the Board of the Southern Region since 2004 and was the Director of the Southern Region for one term in 2009/2010. During his term as Regional Director, he acted as a liaison to CLRG (An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha) in Dublin, Ireland.
Denise Culkin, Owner/Manager
Denise Culkin, Sean’s wife, is very much involved in the running of the Culkin School. Although she relies on others to help carry out many of the administrative tasks needed to run the school, Denise is responsible for the over-all business and management structure. Denise was never an Irish dancer however, her educational background qualifies her to be the backbone of the business. After all of these years, she feels like she could get up on stage and dance a reel with no problems!
Nicole Sack Bayhurst, Artistic Director, TCRG, ADCRG
Nicki learned Irish Dance at the age of eight from Theresa Burke of the Burke School in Pittsburgh, PA. She qualified several times for the World Championships, competing in Salthill, Ireland in 1988. She has been teaching at the Culkin School since 1997. In addition to being the main instructor for all Bethesda and championship level classes, she supports the school administratively and has her hand in a little bit of everything, from the current redesign of the website to booking events and performances. As Artistic Director, Nicki is responsible for choreographing competitive steps for all levels of dancers as well as choreographing high profile performances including shows for the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Wolftrap, and BlackRock Center for the Arts. In 2007, she passed her ADCRG examination, which certifies her to adjudicate Irish dancing competitions (Feiseanna) around the world. She recently adjudicated the prestigious 2015 World Championships of Irish Dance in Montreál, Canada and is honored to have participated in such an amazing event. It’s truly one of the highlights of her Irish dancing career.
Mary Page Day, TCRG
Mary Page started dancing at the age of five. She competed at the Open Championship level with the McGing School of Irish Dance in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mary Page placed in the top five at Regionals, top ten at Nationals and her proudest moment in her competitive career was recalling at the World Championships. Mary Page moved to Washington, D.C in 2014 and recently passed her TCRG. Mary Page currently teaches and assists in classes from the beginner to the championship level. It has been an honor for Mary Page to work with such a great team of dedicated and passionate teachers and dancers. Irish dancing has given her some of the most amazing friendships and has taught her some of life’s most important lessons, in which she hopes to be able to pass on to future generations of dancers.
Caterina Earle, TCRG
Caterina studied Irish Dance under Peggy O’Neill, ADCRG. She began teaching at the Culkin School in 1995 and assists with the adult classes at Glen Echo. She was the first certified teacher who joined the school and a true advocate for a program for adult Irish dancers. She was instrumental in the growth and success of our current adult program.
Phil Stacy, Adult Program Coordinator, TCRG
Phil is a three-time Southern Region Oireachtas champion and has competed at the World and North American championships. During his dance career with The Culkin School, he has danced with the Chieftains, Eileen Ivers, and Natalie McMasters and performed at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Wolftrap and BlackRock Center for the Arts. He is the first dancer, who started as a child with the Culkin School, who attempted and passed his TCRG. We are delighted that Phil has accepted the position of Program Coordinator for our adult program. His experience teaching all levels of dancers will be a huge asset to this program, enabling both the program and its dancers to continue to grow.
Denise Olive Daniele, Dance Captain
Denise began dancing at the age of three with the Gray School in Connecticut. With the Gray School, she danced at the championship level for 7 years, placing several times in the top ten at the New England Regional Oireachtas. During and after college, she was an assistant instructor for the Gray School. In 2005, Denise joined the Culkin School, where she competed as an Open Championship dancer, dancing solos at National level and figure teams at the World Irish Dance Championships. Denise is our current Dance Captain, who is responsible for assisting in championship level classes as well as choreographing performance pieces. She is currently sitting the Grade Exams working towards receiving the CLRG certification.
Kate began Irish dancing at the age of seven with the Burke School in Youngstown, Ohio, and has qualified for the World Championships four times, competing in Belfast in 2006. She has also studied with the Cannon School in Cleveland and taught adult classes at John Carroll University. Kate joined the Culkin School in 2002 and competed as an Open Championship dancer for several years. She currently helps the school manage performances of all kinds. Kate is also the coordinator of CULKIN LIVE, a dance troupe consisting of current Culkin dancers and alumni. She works closely with the band Lilt and choreographs many of her pieces to their musical scores. It’s a wonderful way for Irish dancers to stay involved while they continue their studies and begin their careers.
Lynne Haslbeck, Adult Program Dance Captain
After beginning Irish dance at the tender age of 43, Lynne joined the Culkin School in 2008 and is a member of the Southern Region Ceili Championship teams and the school’s medal-winning ceili teams at the North American Nationals and the 2010 All-Irelands Championship. In solo competitions, Lynne has won the the Peggy O’Neill adult championship cup several times. Lynne assists in many of the adult classes and will continue to help guide the adult program. Her positive attitude and work ethic will inspire all to get to the next level!
Tammy has been with the Culkin School with its inception and is a member of the National Championship adult ladies ceili team. A student of Peggy O’Neill as a child, Tammy brings years of experience to the Culkin School. She assists with a number of solo and figures classes and has been helpful in acquiring a “look” for our figures competitors by providing Mary Kay products for all of our team dancers. Currently, Tammy is sitting her Grade Exams in order to receive the CLRG Grade Exam Certificate.
Kelly McGovern began Irish dancing with the Culkin School when she was four years old. As a solo dancer, she has competed at the World and North American Championships. In college, she was the president of the University of Notre Dame Irish Dance Team, and her team competed in and won the club ceili competition at the 2013 All-Ireland Championships. She is now assisting in Culkin School classes from the beginner to championship level.
Megan started dancing with the Culkin School in 1997. She was a student in one of the original classes for children when the school first opened. Since then, she has competed in all levels of competition beginner through open championship and has danced at several regional competitions in addition to qualifying for Nationals. Throughout her dancing career, Megan has performed at the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, Blackrock, and with Eileen Ivers. She is currently working towards getting her TCRG while assisting with Culkin School classes from the beginner through championship levels.