Celebrating 30 Years of Promoting Irish Culture Through the Love of Irish Dance and Music Across Upstate New York
Johnston dancers perform “dance-outs” all through the year, from weddings and anniversaries to school parties and cultural celebrations.
But never are they more prominent than during the weeks preceding and including St. Patrick’s Day, when Johnston dancers can be found everywhere you hear Irish music playing!
Who We Are…
Ann Johnston Sullivan founded the Johnston School of Irish Dance in 1993 with only four students. The students practiced in the garage above Ann’s home- the same studio space where Ann practiced her steps as a child.
Many families asked Ann to teach in the surrounding suburbs of Syracuse. In order to accommodate students traveling from the North, Ann purchased the Butler School of Irish Dance, located in Watertown, from Patrick Butler.
As the popularity of Irish dancing grew with the advent of Riverdance, school enrollment multiplied. In January of 1997, Ann asked long time friend and dance colleague, Patty Wilsch to join her in teaching students the love of Irish dance. The following year, Ann and Patty opened a school in Utica in addition to those established in Syracuse, Fayetteville, and Watertown.
In 2014, Ann purchased the Clann Na Cara School of Irish Dance in Vestal, NY, bringing the school’s dance locations to five. With the additional location, Ann and Patty brought in former student and TCRG Abby Trageser Cook. And in 2021, the Johnston family grew again, with the addition of the Roisin Academy of Irish Dance, bringing on board TCRG Lisa Lonergan Abel.
Anne Johnston Sullivan
Ann began dancing at the age of 4 with renowned Irish Dance teacher Patrick Butler. She earned her TCRG in 1993, and her ADCRG 2001. She now has four school locations across CNY.
Patty also began dancing at 4 years old. She met Ann and formed a lifelong friendship while dancing for Patrick Butler. She joined Ann’s school in 1997 and earned her TCRG in 2001.
Abby danced for Ann and Patty for 17 successful years. Thanks to their dedication, love, and support, Abby went on to pursue her teaching certification and joined our school as a teacher in 2015.
Lisa started Irish Dancing at the age of 8. Lisa went on to earn her T.C.R.G. in 2011. She founded and directed the well-accomplished Roisin Academy of Irish Dance for over 7 years, merging with Johnston in 2021.