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!

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.

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.


Denise Olive Daniele, Dance Captain & Performance Coordinator

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 ceili 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.

Tammy Larson 

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.

Kate Bole 

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.

Julia Topper

Julia had her first experiences in Irish dancing at the Woodgate School of Irish Dance in Buffalo, NY, but the majority of her studies and experiences have taken place with the Culkin School, which she joined in 2012. She is an active competitor in the adult program and has been a part of several winning Southern Region Oireachtas and North American Nationals céilí teams, and additionally has won five adult championships, including Feis Culkin’s Peggy O’Neil perpetual cup. She recently completed her PhD in Ethnomusicology with the University of Maryland, College Park, which culminated in a dissertation entitled, “As We Circle the World: A Performative Ethnography of Irish Step Dance and Music in the United States and Japan,” which draws in part from her research experiences studying with the Culkin School as well as with Irish dance schools and teachers in Tokyo. She is currently sitting the CLRG grade examinations in order to receive the Dancer’s Certification.

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