Penn Live Arts Presents Trinity Irish Dance Company, February 18-19

February 7, 2022

Penn Live Arts presents Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC) February 18 and 19 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Originally scheduled for March 2020, this long-awaited appearance by TIDC fuses Ireland’s vibrant tradition and legacy with ever-evolving American innovation in a performance of show stopping aerial grace, lightning-fast agility, and percussive power.

For tickets and further information, visit All audience members must present proof of vaccination, a PennOpen Campus Green Pass completed on the day of the performance, and wear a mask at all times while in the building. See full health and safety information for in-person audiences at

Philadelphia-area native and TIDC Artistic Associate Ali Doughty, who won the solo world championship for the United States in 2014, will be sharing her power as a professional performing artist with her hometown audience for the first time. As part of her return home, she will perform the solo work Sparks, inspired by her technical prowess, where she will be accompanied by fiddle prodigy, Jake James. Doughty started dancing at the age of eight with the McDade School of Irish Dance in Philadelphia, PA. After moving to Ohio to attend the University of Dayton in 2012, she continued her competitive dancing career with The Academy in Columbus, Ohio. While balancing her studies in exercise physiology, Doughty continued to compete internationally and was ultimately crowned World Champion in 2014. Upon her graduation, Philadelphia-born Doughty moved to Chicago to join the TIDC movement and begin her evolution from formidable competitor to a limitless performing artist while receiving her doctorate in physical therapy at Northwestern University. With a seamless blend of aerial grace and percussive power, Doughty connects with audiences on a deep level. She is part of a nucleus of company members that are carrying the TIDC legacy to new heights.

TIDC’s Philadelphia premieres will include: An Sorcas, choreographed by Emmy-award winning TIDC founder and Artistic Director Mark Howard and Associate Artistic Director Chelsea Hoy; American Traffic, by NYC based tap dancer and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Michelle Dorrance and tap dancer and choreographer Melinda Sullivan; and audience favorite Push, choreographed by Howard.

Howard and Hoy’s An Sorcas (Gaelic for “The Circus”) examines the battle between substance and spectacle in a progression from idolatry to empathy, with original lyrics, music, and layers of symbolism. Dorrance and Sullivan’s American Traffic is a hybrid of Irish step and American tap that plays at the intersection of rhythmic sensibilities and rebellious histories. It celebrates the nuanced differences between the two forms and creates a new percussive language. Push is an explosion of hard-driving percussive power that exemplifies the company’s consistent message of female empowerment. Johnny is one of Howard’s signature works which altered the landscape of Irish dance. The program will be rounded out by classic TIDC pieces, including Soles, A New Dawn, Communion, and Black Rose.

The program features dancers Ali Doughty, Michael Fleck, Lydia Fredrick, Anna Gorman, Abigail GrahamLuke, Chelsea Hoy, Francisco Lemus, Danielle Masbruch, Sierra McNall, Kaela Milewski, Claudia Morrison, Sydney Niewiedzial, Colleen O’Connor, Kelsey Parry, Gracie Peters, Clare Rahner, Kaitlyn Sardin, and Marissa Wurster; and musicians Jake James, Christopher Kulwin, Brendan O’Shea, and Steven Rutledge. For full bios, please see the performance program.

About the Artists

Chicago/Milwaukee-based Trinity Irish Dance Company is the high watermark of the art form; a uniquely Irish American dance legacy that is rooted in tradition, yet forward-looking and ever-evolving. The result is a fresh, engaging, and integrity-filled vision that goes beyond the source without losing touch with its essence. Founded in 1990, by Founding Artistic Director Mark Howard, TIDC is the birthplace of progressive Irish dance, an innovative movement genre which opened new avenues of artistic freedom that led directly to commercial productions such as Riverdance. TIDC has significantly changed the direction and scope of Irish dance, reintroducing the art form as the phenomenon it is today. With a unique blend of uncompromising power and grace, TIDC sends a consistent message of female empowerment with a repertory that has elevated the art form for nearly three decades. For more information, visit

Mark Howard (Founding Artistic Director/Choreographer)

For more than three decades, this Emmy® Award-winning choreographer has been striving for and achieving that which is profoundly significant and equally difficult to attain—the transcendence of craft to art and the synthesis of forms to create something that is forward-looking and new. His work maintains integrity while simultaneously going beyond the framework of ethnicity to carve new traditions.

Born in Yorkshire, England, and raised in Chicago, Howard began his dancing career at eight years old at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance. He began teaching when he was only 17 years old, and by 19, he had launched the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, subsequently leading them to unprecedented world championship team titles for the United States—the first when he was only 25.

Howard’s pioneering work in the late 80s led to his unique transition from the competitive stage to the performing arts stage and began his gradual evolution from coach to artistic director. By 1990, these formative years led to the creation of a nonprofit forum, Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC), to celebrate and further his work. From its inception, TIDC has been met with great critical acclaim at renowned venues across the world.

Howard has been named three times as one of Irish American Magazine’s “Top 100 Irish-Americans.” His work has led to numerous Choreographer’s Fellowships awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. From PBS and ABC specials to extensive film work for Disney, Touchstone, Universal and DreamWorks, Howard has worked with Oprah Winfrey, Ron Howard and Sam Mendez, among many other notables. He was the personal dance coach for actors Tom Hanks and Daniel Craig while working on the film Road to Perdition. Howard continues to choreograph new works, as well as expand his independent career to work in theatre, television, concert and film. The feature film SOLES, which focuses on Howard and Trinity, is currently in the works.

Chelsea Hoy (Associate Artistic Director/Choreographer)

At 26, Denver-born Hoy has already become a major player in the performing arts world. Generous, rebellious, creative and complex, her choreographic influence has significantly shaped TIDC’s newest works, from Communion to Soles and Push. Hoy recently co-choreographed her first full-length piece, An Sorcas (The Circus), which saw its preview in Tokyo and world premiere at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre in 2019.

Hoy grew up dancing competitively for the Wick School of Irish Dance in Denver, Colorado. She joined TIDC in 2014 after she began her studies at Loyola University Chicago. She graduated in 2017 with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and photography. In addition to helping guide the company’s future, she is a professional photographer, dance instructor and visual artist. Hoy’s love of empowering children through the arts continues to shape TIDC’s outreach programming. A powerful activist and artist, she has been entrusted with TIDC’s ethos and future.