Toledo Irish: Ardan Adult Irish Dancers

Toledo Irish: Ardan Adult Irish Dancers
by Maury Collins 

Heinzman Academy of Irish Dance began in 1994 in the Detroit area.  Then in 1996, the Toledo area school was established in Rossford at Mary’s Ballet School of Dance. Heinzeman then moved to Common Space on Reynolds Road and then moved to a charter school. Finally, they moved to their current location, Common Space, on Reynolds Road.  In recent years, the name changed to the Ardan Academy of Irish Dance.

 In 1999, the Ardan Adult Irish Dancers came into existence.  At the beginning, quite a few adults began dancing for a variety of reasons.  For some, it was for exercise; while most, in the beginning, started dancing because they wanted something to do while their own children were taking classes with John Heinzman or one of his certified teachers.

The beginning class of dancers was Randy and Suzie Nissan, Kelly Vertin, Peg Cypher, Jackie Barchick, Joanie Baas, Melody Fox, Mary Burns, Jennifer Fording, Belinda Costin, Lindsay Eaton and Maureen Cray.

As time moved on, some dropped out while others joined: Currently, the members are:  Melody Fox, Mary Burns, Jennifer Oberlin Fording, Joan Baas, and Belinda Costin. 

The adult group tries to practice once a week but trying to work around everyone’s schedule can be difficult, so they have learned to be very flexible and accommodating. They welcome new members to anyone who has previously Irish danced or anyone who knows the basic steps. They adults have competed at the following Feis competitions over the years: Dublin, Muskegon, Lancing Great Lakes, and Toledo Glass City, doing very well.

The longest member is Melody Fox, who started dancing in 1998 after seeing Michael Flatley in River Dancein Chicago.  She said she didn’t care if she took class with 5 and 6 year olds, she just wanted to learn Irish Dance, before she turned 50.  She has been dancing, competing, and winning medals ever since.

Mary Burns has been dancing a long time too. She started a few years after Melody. All of her children were taking lessons and she decided to make it a family thing. Her husband, Jim, even danced for a year.  Mary’s children stopped dancing but she has continued her dancing career competing, choreographing and winning medals.

Joanie Baas had three daughters in Irish dance and she decided that she might as well get off her butt and start dancing, after all, “the fourth one in the family was free.”  Like Mary, she has taken up fiddling as well. In fact, the two of them just visited Ireland with their fiddle teacher, Mary Dennis, and their stringed instruments!

Jennifer Fording and her friend, Nicole Cassidy, wanted her to learn Irish dance.  Nicole talked Jen into it.  They started dancing in 2005. Nicole quit, Jen joined the group in 2006 before she was even married.  She is now married with a 10 year old son.  Jen, compete, choreographs and medals as well.

Belinda Costin was an Irish Dancer as a child. In fact, her mom helped start Irish dancing in Toledo in 1973, with Maggie Cupini as the teacher. They practiced at a Montessori School on Cheyenne Boulevard. Belinda’s last teacher as a child was up in Detroit with Butler Academy.  She is a cousin by marriage to Michael Flatley.  After thirty years, she loves being back in it and sees how much it has changed over the years. 

All the adults of Ardan Toledo Adult Dancers are so impressed with how hard the young students work and compete.  It has been enjoyable to watch them grow, improve, compete and win over the years!

If you would like information about joining the Toledo Adult Ardan dancer group, please send me an E-mail at [email protected]. If you would like to see the Toledo Adult Ardan Irish Dancers performing, I made up a short you tube video, Ardan Adult Irish Dancers.  You can view the video at:

* Maury Collins is a charter member and past president of the Toledo AOH division. He may be reached at [email protected].
Don’t Forget, Send Maury [email protected]) and John ([email protected]) your Toledo Irish events news and pics so we can let everyone know. Deadline is 10thof the month, for the following month, so Jan 10 for February issue, etc .

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