Embarking on the 19th season, a local Irish dance company now has a space to call home in Federal Way.
Fire & Ice Irish Dance Company, owned and directed by Susan Walker, is an Irish ensemble choreography and traditional Irish step dancing company that performs at various festivals throughout the Puget Sound.
“We work on not just the traditional steps, but also how can we make them interesting to the audience,” Walker said of the choreography.
Dancers with Fire & Ice range in experience from beginners to masters, and also in age from 4 to 75 years old.
The company focuses on social and performance purposes, not competition, Walker explained at the studio’s soft opening in mid-January. Fire & Ice showcases their talents at shows around the St. Patrick’s Day holiday as well as Memorial Day weekend and at other events, such as Irish Festival Seattle in March.
This season, the company has 85 dancers celebrating their five-year anniversary and 15 dancers celebrating their 10-year anniversary.
Prior to creating Fire & Ice, Walker taught jazz dance for more than 20 years. Upon first seeing an Irish Riverdace performance on BBC one night in 1997, Walker said she simply could not wait to share the Irish art with others.
She headed straight to the library, after Yellow Pages failed to provide any information leads, and soon signed up for a local class.
Her company started on Sept. 11, 2001 with 26 dancers, growing to 32 the next year. Shortly after, it grew to approximately 70 dancers. And Walker remained the only instructor.
Since then, the company — and Walker’s love for the dance form — has only grown.
“I’ve been enough places to see its success,” she said of the dance style. “It has a lifelong, ever-trajectory of skill progression.”
Walker has been to Ireland a dozen times, for summer school dance academies and training, gathering a wealth of material and knowledge from the top instructors in Irish song and dance.
Fire & Ice, which formerly held classes at Brooklake Community Center and the Center at Norpoint in NE Tacoma, has found a perfect space in the heart of Federal Way.
Before finding the studio space in Federal Way, Walker said she hit a forked road in her career and “I had to ask myself a question — ‘Am I done yet?’”
The answer was no, she said, adding that she still has at least another decade of dance to accomplish.
On Jan. 18, folk music trickled out of the new studio’s door, located in the Quad Shopping Center along 1st Avenue South in Federal Way.
A bright and open space with a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and specially designed floors for dancers underwent significant remodels to minimize sound of the joyful, fast-paced Irish dance tunes from floating into the surrounding businesses.
“We’ve been using the studio for two weeks and it’s like a dream come true,” Walker told the Mirror on Jan. 29.
The new studio offers classes for beginners (ages 4-6, Fridays at 4 p.m.), children (5 p.m. Mondays, 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 6 p.m. Wednesdays), and teens and adults (6 p.m. Mondays); classes begin the first week of February.
The dance studio’s grand opening celebration for the community is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1.
To register for classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 253-874-1533. Fire and Ice Irish Dance Company is located at 32901 1st Ave. S., under the complex tower, in Federal Way.