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Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis

Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 24 Feb 09 - 07:01 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM
Harmonium Hero 24 Feb 09 - 07:58 AM
Mr Happy 24 Feb 09 - 08:08 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 24 Feb 09 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 24 Feb 09 - 08:55 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 09:04 AM
quokka 24 Feb 09 - 09:04 AM
caitlin rua 24 Feb 09 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 24 Feb 09 - 03:12 PM
michaelr 24 Feb 09 - 03:21 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 03:26 PM
JennieG 24 Feb 09 - 06:03 PM
Big Mick 24 Feb 09 - 06:43 PM
Declan 24 Feb 09 - 07:31 PM
Big Mick 25 Feb 09 - 12:53 AM
Seamus Kennedy 25 Feb 09 - 01:32 AM
Big Mick 25 Feb 09 - 01:49 AM
DMcG 25 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM
Thompson 25 Feb 09 - 05:33 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 05:34 AM
The Sandman 25 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 25 Feb 09 - 08:23 AM
Harmonium Hero 25 Feb 09 - 08:53 AM
Harmonium Hero 25 Feb 09 - 09:01 AM
DMcG 25 Feb 09 - 09:12 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM
DMcG 25 Feb 09 - 09:47 AM
John Routledge 25 Feb 09 - 10:21 AM
clueless don 25 Feb 09 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 25 Feb 09 - 11:25 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 01:39 PM
Declan 25 Feb 09 - 01:59 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 02:07 PM
clueless don 25 Feb 09 - 02:59 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM
quokka 25 Feb 09 - 09:08 PM
Rowan 25 Feb 09 - 11:22 PM
Big Mick 26 Feb 09 - 12:40 PM
Jim Lad 26 Feb 09 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Al Brighton 26 Feb 09 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 26 Feb 09 - 08:46 PM
GUEST,Jim I 26 Feb 09 - 09:14 PM
GUEST,Feis_girl 27 Feb 09 - 02:08 AM
DMcG 27 Feb 09 - 02:30 AM
DMcG 27 Feb 09 - 03:00 AM
Jim Lad 27 Feb 09 - 03:30 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 27 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM
Rowan 27 Feb 09 - 09:06 PM
Harmonium Hero 28 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Feb 09 - 08:25 AM
Harmonium Hero 28 Feb 09 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 28 Feb 09 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 28 Feb 09 - 08:01 PM
DMcG 01 Mar 09 - 02:27 AM
caitlin rua 01 Mar 09 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Mar 09 - 06:20 PM
Thompson 02 Mar 09 - 01:51 AM
caitlin rua 02 Mar 09 - 04:46 AM
Penny S. 02 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Mar 09 - 05:44 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 05:51 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 06:04 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Mar 09 - 06:18 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 02 Mar 09 - 06:27 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 02 Mar 09 - 06:29 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:35 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM
Harmonium Hero 02 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Mar 09 - 10:02 AM
Harmonium Hero 02 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM
caitlin rua 02 Mar 09 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,new to all this 02 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM
clueless don 02 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM
Howard Jones 02 Mar 09 - 06:25 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Mar 09 - 06:50 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 07:34 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 09 - 03:12 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 09 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 03 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 09 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,JenniferMcG 16 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM
Maryrrf 16 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Middle Class Molly 02 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM
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Bonnie Shaljean 17 Sep 11 - 08:04 AM
Maryrrf 17 Sep 11 - 09:47 AM
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Subject: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:27 AM

Children in Irish step dancing contests seem to be required these days not only to dance well, but also to wear these absurd wigs with huge stiff plastic-looking curls. And of course when you do this type of dancing, with all the up-&-down steps and kicks, there is a constant danger that the wig (always gigantic and probably heavy) will come off. So they then have to pin it securely in place with a nun-like headband that does absolutely nothing for the child's face, which is then plastered with make-up. WHO started this? It's obscene.

I've taught harp in Ireland for 18 years, and a lot of my students - being interested in traditional Irish culture - also go in for the dancing competitions. I can remember a time when wigs were unheard of; then a time when little girls started coming into their lessons with their hair in rag-curlers, in order to have ringlets for some upcoming feis. Nothing wrong with that, I thought, it looks kind of cute. Awful hassle, though. What's it got to do with dancing? Oh, well . . .

But now it seems to have become a requirement. I asked another adult teacher WHY they had this added burden and she said she had heard that it was because the curls would bounce, and that enhanced the visual effect of the dancing. Do dance-adjudicators really pay attention to stuff like that? And award or dock points on it??

There is also the horrible expense of it all. The dresses - which are at least pretty and don't intrude on the child in inappropriate ways - already cost in the four figures, and the kid will grow out of it in a year. Then there are the silly-looking baggy "poodle socks" which make an ugly bulge at the ankle and are twice or three time the price of ordinary socks. I can understand shoes being expensive, but the rest of the kit is ridiculously exorbitant. But you'd better fork up or your daughter is going to be the odd one out and boy will she suffer for it. You guys have no idea (actually, maybe you do) of the number of harassed mothers who have confided to me their despair over this situation. Most do not have one child but two or three or more to outfit. And they all say they "have to."

I also can't believe that the wigs aren't uncomfortable to wear. They must get hot and sweaty, with dozens of pins irritating the scalp. I remember how this feels from various plays I was in when I was young, how disagreeable wigs were, and what a relief it was to take them off and let my head get a bit of air. And my little drama parts didn't call for the physical exertion that dancing does. Don't these kids already have enough on their plates trying to perform well under public pressure, without the added burden of physical discomfort?

In another thread, the poster very aptly described it as "child abuse". And so it is: physical,mental (peer group scorn if they don't conform, one more thing to stress them if they do), and financial.
Who actually started this, and how does one put an end to it? Obviously a lot of commercial concerns are making good money from the "enforced" sale of these irrelevant items, and targeting people's children gets them where they are most vulnerable. With money so tight and jobs being lost and all the other economic horrors, why should they be obliged to line the pockets of the fashion-accessory industry? Why should they smear paint on the beautiful, natural face of a ten-year-old?

You all know what'll happen: dancing itself will lose out. How many people actually approve of and like this latest trend? Or do they all just desperately go on competing - on another whole new level - for fear of being left out? Can't everyone who objects - parents and teachers (not just dance teachers) and everyone who cares about the culture - stop it? It certainly isn't helping the children any.

What's it like in The States and Britain? Has the Wig Disease spread there too?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:01 AM

Yes, I've seen it in the UK too.

It's all about the parents' egos, isn't it? Why should the poor kids (and us) have to suffer?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM

A lot of the parents here just feel desperate and pressured about it. They conform because they're worried - with good reason - that their children will get excluded/ridiculed if they don't.

Someone is behind this - I'm betting that it's those who stand to make money from these unnecessary "requirements". I'm not clear enough about the dance-competition hierarchy, or who carries what authority, to know who it is that allows (encourages?) this practice, but they could put a stop to it in the morning simply by banning wigs and makeup in the competition rules. But they don't. Why? I know a lot of parents who would be grateful.

How many people are staying out of dancing altogether because of this?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:58 AM

My aunts taught Irish dancing for many years, up until the 1960s. In those days, the girls' dresses were simple, lightweight affairs, with some celtic embroidery; my aunts did the embroidery themselves, and it consisted of a main design on the front, a smaller design on the sleeves, and a border around the hem and neck, I think. Plus the shawl affair at the back (does this have a name?). There was no stiffening in the dress or shawl. By the time my daughter was dancing, from the mid- 80s, the dresses had become a commercial concern, and were selling for £200 - £300; the embroidery was machined, and such things as applique and mirror beads were creeping in, along with parrots and other non-celtic elements. They also weighed a ton, and seemed to be lined with cardboard - they would stand up unassisted. She dropped out when she went to college in the late 90s, by which time the wigs were creeping in. Now, the dresses seldom - if ever - seem to have any celtic motifs, make-up is de rigeur, along with fake tan on legs, and the wigs seem to be a requirement; my surviving aunt heard of a couple of girls (in Belfast, I think) who refused to wear the wigs, and were barred from entering a competition without them. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with the dancing, or with traditional culture, and it would be a real shame - a disgrace, in fact - if children were being put off, or prevented by poverty, from getting involved because of this nonsense. None of this affects the boys, of course.....
What to do about it? Well, I think that parents and dance teachers need to get together a petition and make representations to the Irish Dance Commission, or whatever they are calling themselves these days (no doubt somebody will correct me if I'm out of date here!). Or maybe a joint letter to The Irish Times, signed by a number of parents/teachers might do some good. If enough fuss was made, the press may well make a campaign out of it.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:08 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44Y-_JAjAwE
.........not just wigs to woory about!!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM

Watch out!!!!! They'll all be wanting one . . .


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:43 AM

Bonnie, I'm completely with you on this one. One of the things that gets to me is the complete indifference of most parents of 'Irish Dancers' to Irish Traditional Music. Obviously I've got an axe to grind on this one but I've repeatedly offered the chance for kids to learn to play the music to 'Irish Dancing' parents - mostly to be met with a blank stare and a response along the lines of 'What, like Riverdance?'.

Having said that, our own daughter's dance teacher doesn't push the wigs and radioactive dresses on kids and is indeed very down on them herself. It doesn't seem to hurt the kids' prospects at Feiseanna - one of her girls won first prize at the last feis she was at and the only special costume was a green (yeah, I know) leotard and a plain skirt. No wig.

A couple of the other dance schools in my area, on the other hand, are among the worst offenders - some of them seem to make more selling the dresses than they do from teaching the dancing. And it is a business, when all is said and done. The music is only a means to an end.

Since my daughter has been doing the dancing it's helped her music a lot - we often find that kids who dance are often more able to make sense of traditional music than kids who don't or who don't have traditional music in the house.

Apart from that benefit, however, most of the 'Irish Dancing' schools in our neck of the woods are businesses first and foremost and if you get involved with them you are going to be spending a lot of money and subjecting your child to some very questionable treatment, in my view. My daughter's own teacher is an honourable exception - for which I'm very grateful.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:55 AM

On the other hand, Mrs BAS reckons there's a great movie to be made if someone can interest Christopher Guest in the subject.

You could call it 'This Is Spinal Pat'.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:04 AM

LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sounds like this teacher should be applauded from here to No Man's Land. How many others possess her unselfishness (I'm sure she could make a fortune flogging stuff to this captive market if she wanted) and her courage at taking a stand against it. It can't be winning her any popularity contests in some circles.

I've always been a player, and the little bit of dancing I've done was greatly helped by my experience of the music, so yours is a good point in both directions. My world dancing premiere wasn't a show-situation, but a place in a ceilidh set with experienced dancers who all knew what to do without any prompts, and moved with clockwork precision. The only way I managed to cope - and I did - was knowing the structure of the tunes and where the changes came (plus a sympathetic partner) but I didn't let him or anybody else down. This was ENTIRELY from an inside knowledge of how the music works, and that came from playing it.

The other thing I find is that playing for dancers really knocks the spots off you. I always stress this to my students when trying to make them develop their rhythm (and not accelerate beyond their ability, another pet peeve...). Without an external framework their beat often wanders, which is why I tell them to listen to the old trad musicians, whom you could pit against the atomic clock at Greenwich.

The ART of playing or dancing or singing is what's important, and the beauty of what you are trying to communicate. Not some pile of plastic corkscrews perched precariously on your head.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: quokka
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:04 AM

This is a recent phenomenon in Irish dancing here( by recent I mean in the last ten years or so) and I think it actually detracts from the steps and distracts the viewer. Is this the point - to Disnify the whole experience? Is it not about the dancing talent any more? I danced until I was 14 or so, and our mothers made our dresses, white with coloured Celtic embroidery and green crotcheted collars and a green velvet jacket over the top. Now it seems to be big business.
Mind you, when we danced (before the whole Riverdance thing) it was definitely not trendy - we used to get an awful bollocking at school for having to get up at every school occasion to do Irish dancing. Yes it was a Catholic convent school! How bad is that!~ being thought uncool for doing Irish dancing at a convent school;->

Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: caitlin rua
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 02:44 PM

There are some serious inconsistencies here, if in one area girls are being barred from competing for not wearing wigs (shame) and in another an entrant who isn't wearing one wins (hooray). I can't for the life of me see how that inequality is justifiable.   

In my not-so-humble opinion the body of authority ought to ban wigs and heavy stage-makeup for all contestants, and ordinary everyday makeup for anyone under (?) 13, or whenever girls normally start wearing it now. I'm a bit out of touch on that score but surely there still IS an age at which girls do not use cosmetics?      

I think the cost of the dresses is a disgrace too, but that's harder to make clear legislation about. Banning all false hairpieces and age-restricting the makeup is easy to define, and maybe also any clothes-decorations that are not part of Irish traditional design, since this is an Irish art form. (Otherwise where does it stop?) That would at least reduce some of the drains and distractions, and help put DANCING back closer to being the centre focus of dance competitions. That scene seems to be turning into a mini-Hollywood. I can see why the industry might want that, but how about the families, who either have to pay out for the whole wardrobe, or else deny their daughters the feis - because there's a mortgage and brothers or sisters who need school shoes and new winter coats? Money's tight now and the silly days are over. Why should these looks-obsessed parasite markets still profit from people who are having enough trouble simply existing day to day?

Be interesting to see what would happen if parents en masse revolted and simply refused to put wigs and greasepaint on their kids. What if every single participant at an event shows up without these? Are they going to cancel it?

A lot of people may silently agree in spirit, but they'll be scared to stick their heads above the parapet, I'm betting. Might make enemies. But without some group action against the business interests - because that's what it is - the costumes and hair will go on getting more and more baroque and attention-seeking and expensive. It's becoming a show, just like reality-TV talent contests. And there are always, always, always the Showbiz Mamas. A minority, but it only takes one or two.

Back to my original question: Do the rules say that girls are barred from entering if they won't wear wigs? And if they don't, that exclusion mentioned above can and should be challenged.   

Good luck and long life to the lassie in the green leotard - you GO, girl. Teacher too.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:12 PM

Interesting discussion developing here. Very civil, as well, which is a pleasant change.

I just picked our daughter up from her Irish Dancing class. I did notice they were trying on a wig on one of the girls for a feis - I don't think the teacher was happy about it but she said something about 'having to play the game'. The clearly wasn't keen on it but I think she was being pragmatic in this case so clearly there are some competitions where these are expected. I suspect that they vary, depending on which school is hosting the feis and who is judging.

Mind you, what do I know? I'm just a dad.

Caitlin, I love the idea of a mass refusal to toe the line by parents but you'll know yourself that when parents turn up to a feis the last thing on their mind is a show of solidarity. I guess that's the problem with competitions. It happens with fleadhanna as well.

But at least at a fleadh you see different kids playing together outside of competitions. That sort of spontaneous, non-competitive activity doesn't seem to figure on the dancing circuit.

I think the good teachers (like my daughter's) are really up against it - not only do they have to work within the system but they have to manage the expectations of kids and parents. Something I have sympathy with from running music lessons.

Bonnie, I think you are absolutely spot-on about the importance of musicians learning to play for dancers. When I first started accompanying Irish music on the guitar I played at an Irish club right after a set dancing lesson. The dancers would hang around and dance during the session so I started playing for dancers from the word go. It was something I've always been grateful for - most guitarists seem to get into Irish music either through pub sessions or through folk clubs. Nothing wrong with that but I feel they are often missing something coming from that direction.

I also feel that the prevailing DADGAD style of guitar playing you hear everywhere now in Irish music tends not to be best suited to dancing as it tends to impose an incongruous rhythm on the tunes - but that's just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: michaelr
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:21 PM

This trend has taken hold here in the US, as well, including the wigs, and the fluorescent dresses that look as if someone had eaten the Book of Kells and vomited it up all over them. I find it deplorable.

But then, I'm not all that fond of Irish dancing anyway. I just love the dance music, but I don't enjoy playing for dancers.

Q: What's the difference between a dancer's mother and a pit bull?

A: Lipstick.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:26 PM

>...the prevailing DADGAD style of guitar playing you hear everywhere now in Irish music tends not to be best suited to dancing as it tends to impose an incongruous rhythm on the tunes - but that's just my opinion.

Mine too. AMEN. That heavy monotonous up-down thrash-strumming (on metal strings hit hard with a plectrum) is about as rhythmically subtle as a jackhammer. Of course not all guitarists are like that. But too many are.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: JennieG
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:03 PM

Perhaps it dates from the Riverdance phenomenon? Didn't many of the girl dancers in the various stage shows spawned by the above-mentioned show have bouncy curls? However I don't think they were the extreme curls of current times, and they weren't worn by little girls but by adult dancers.

And as for the frocks....the description above of vomiting the Book of Kells is great.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:43 PM

I am a veteran of the US Irish Dance Parents scene. I spent $1200 for the dress, daughter has the curls hairpiece, and she wears the socks. The theory as to where the hell all this regalia comes from that I heard was that it all started as a way to draw attention to yourself. For those not familiar with the dance competitions at the Feis', there are several dancers on the platform at any given time, and one adjudicator. Any number of things are done to get them to look at you. In a perfect world that would be technique, but the costumes and regalia seem to help. And it has gotten out of hand. I have also seen a lot of subtle pushes and crowding in some students technique. Clearly these are taught by teachers that want their students to take home trophies. Unfortunately, without the accoutrements, one simply is not as likely to place. I know some will say this is not so, but it is the case. The whole business has become more like American Idol than an exercise in culture. I, for one, do not like it. But my daughter loves going, and making friends, so there you are.

As to the rhythmic guitar and bouzouki in Irish music, it depends on the player, IMO. As long as the rhythm player understands his/her place in the music, then usually it is done well. If they think it is about them instead of the tune, then it becomes like Michael Flatley dancing ....

I also make a distinction on the type of venue/performance. If I am playing with a harp, flute, etc, in a concert venue, my role is different than if I am playing with a band at a pub or a dance where we are very uptempo and gregarious, if you will.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Declan
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:31 PM

I don't think its a case of this trend spreading from Ireland to the US - I think it was the other wasy around.

I can't see the point of any of this myself. It was bad enough years ago when the girls had to get their wringlets in before the Feis. I suppose the wigs save the bother of all that in that they are an instant solution -at quite a cost.

My preference would be for sean nos dancing and set dancing where the costumes, if any, tend to be a bit more casual.

The whole step dancing thing has become a bit of an industry. and all a bit silly when ones cocentration should be on the dancing which takes place at the other end of the body.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 12:53 AM

I am not sure if that is the case or not, Declan. It is rampant everywhere. I would prefer the focus be solely on technique and the joy of the dance. If I had it to do again, I am not sure I would have gotten my Ciara into this.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 01:32 AM

I may be wrong, but I thought that the wigs, Star Trek dresses, etc., were for Exhibitions, concerts, TV shows and the like, and not for competition.

The kids compete in plain costume, and do the promo circuit in the show outfits, n'est-ce pas?

As for the music - they're dancing to the beat, not the melody.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 01:49 AM

Nope, Seamus. They compete in costume. Some folks call the glitzy dresses "Open" dresses, but you see them at every level.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM

For those not familiar with the dance competitions at the Feis', there are several dancers on the platform at any given time, and one adjudicator
And when my daughter was entering these, the group of four to six typically 'danced' for about 10 seconds ...


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM

Really?!! Does that happen a lot? After all the dressing-&-making-up, and then the hanging around and waiting that I've heard parents complain of, which usually eats up most of the day - multiple contestants being allowed only a matter of seconds to perform? Why? How can anyone be adjudged a "champion" - or not - when they don't get a chance to even show all that they can do?      

I've never approved of having a competitive element outside of sports anyway. It's too abstract. How on earth do you quantify an art form - what's more important, sensitive and expressive, or fast and exciting? Well, both, actually. But the first of these never gets a look in. Can't. No time. Having to rush gets added to all the other pressure.

This skews kids' artistic values - you try training someone to be a full, well-rounded musician (I'm sure this is true for dance too) when they only wanna use it to WIN. At least in sports it's clear-cut: first runner past the line gets the prize. But races are only about speed; there's so much more to music and dance than mere gymnastics. What is all this teaching the children?   

And more kids always go home disappointed, hurt and often angry than go home joyful, because by the pyramid nature of the event, there are always going to be more losers than winners. Even disregarding the misplaced value on being showy, high-driving and upbeat at the expense of all else, what does this do to their psyches and their relationship to their art? And I can't believe that the winners never taunt the losers.

I wish they could just have showcases instead of being judged and ranked, but I know I'm whistling in the wind.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Thompson
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:33 AM

I have been told - those here can say if it's true - that you're not *allowed* to dance without these nasty costumes.

I'd much sooner see a little girl dancing in an ordinary pretty dress or jeans and T-shirt, with her own hair and no makeup. The dancing should be the focus.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:34 AM

HEAR HEAR !!!!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM

it also can exclude poorer parents,who cant afford the paraphernalia.
yes, I agree there are guitarists and bouzuki players,who thrash away,with no understanding of the pulse or any concept of suitable rhythmic playing for dancing.,and they are often in an open tuning.
however recently I suffered from two at the same time[both in standard tuning]it seems hornpipes and jigs cause the main problems.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 08:23 AM

Bonnie,

The last feis my daughter went to the dancers only seemed to be up competing for a very short time. Maybe not 10 seconds but certainly a very short period. There's quite a lot of gamesmanship involved as well - some dancers tend to stay on the spot and some move around like crazy, presumably to attract attention.

I think the sad fact is that this thing called 'Irish Dancing' is something of a construct with no real relevance any more to Irish culture or Irish music. It's as much a competition between parents as between kids but once your child gets on the treadmill it's very hard to get off.

Right now my daughter does Irish, Tap, and Ballet as well as music. The downside is I'm permanently knackered and skint. The upside is that she's as fit as a butcher's dog and sings like a linnet.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 08:53 AM

DMcG was exaggerating slightly; it's a bit more than 10 seconds, but not, as I recall, much above a minute. In fact, since I typed that bit, I've been talking to my daughter, and she confirms this; dancing three at a time, they would do two and a half steps, and then the bell would ring, and the next three wuld do teir bit. So the adjudicator could not have been looking at any one contestant for more than 20 seconds or so.
She says that the last dress she had made cost about £600 in 1994. When she started dancing - 1985, I think, the dresses were still of the lightweight, unstiffened kind described in my previos post, embroidered by the teacher. The stiffened, commercially-produced ones were just staring to come in about that time, along with the ringlets which Bonnie mentioned in her first post. My daughter says she hated dancing in the stiff dresses, as they were heavy and didn't move the right way. This is obvious really; how can stiffened dresses move with the dancer? They wil simply bounce up and down in their own limited way. As my daughter says, it all seems to be influenced by American 'Beauty' Pageants. Which is curious; if American influence is to be allowed in, then why have things not gone in the opposite direction - light, simple, unadorned and unstiffened dresses a la Riverdance?
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:01 AM

Chris B.: just as long as she's not singing like a butcher's dog....

JK, donning coat and heading for another thread...


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:12 AM

OK, I accept I might have been exaggerating in saying 10 seconds, but it was definitely a very small amount of time and I am certain it would have been well under a minute when my daughter was competing. It was some 14 years ago, now, though, so time may have warped my perception.

She is still dancing, by the way, but not Irish.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM

Did she just grow away from it naturally, as kids often do, or did she get put off by all the hassles? I imagine that 14 years ago at least the dreaded wig issue hadn't raised its synthetic head - ?

Under a minute of being seen, for all the work and emotional energy they put in, is a mean reward indeed.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:47 AM

Not wigs, but the hair HAD to be curly. My daughter's hair is determinately straight. She would go to bed in rag curlers, use masses of lacquer, we'd take the rags out and ... flop!

Like Chris B's daughter, she studied tap, modern, ballet and Irish, then added flamenco as an aperitif. At 22, she continues with ballet and modern.

I think the breaking point was when she was supposed to take part in an Irish display at a club, which my wife drove round for about an hour trying to find, then had to abandon. Being told off for not turning up was, I think, the final straw.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: John Routledge
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 10:21 AM

Read through this thread with considerable dismay.

Reminds me of one of my first lessons from my father.

"Always remember son. Where there is money there is a mastermind"


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: clueless don
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 10:27 AM

That heavy monotonous up-down thrash-strumming (on metal strings hit hard with a plectrum) is about as rhythmically subtle as a jackhammer.

I don't think I would use those exact words to describe the style, but I know what you are talking about - an example being John Doyle. I much prefer this style of accompaniment to the old Boom-Chicka-Boom-Chicka-Boom-Boom Boom Boom... style. I also do not like the old Boom-Bam style of piano accompaniment that you hear on old ceili band recordings. Guess I'm a Philistine.

My wife and I were both Irish step dancers in the adult competitions, but we did not put our daughter into it, largely because of some of the excesses you cite.

Don


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 11:25 AM

...I hear that train a-comin'...


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 01:39 PM

Reading all this, from people with direct experience of it, leads me to three conclusions. This glitzification doesn't help or make happy anyone that I've encountered (though I haven't spoken to sellers of the required merchandise, whose liberal little hearts are presumably bleeding all the way to the bank). The net result seems to be as follows:

1. Trad dancing is losing out, both from being diluted by huge commercial non-Irish influences, and by many kids either giving it up or their parents never starting them in the first place because of the pressures.

2. The parents are being drained financially, bigtime. But hey, what's new?

3. IT'S BAD FOR THE KIDS. It is making them suffer in numerous, needless ways.


In light of number 3 alone, how can the powers in charge - who could easily call an instant halt - justify it to themselves? How can any amount of pandering to The Big Gig and pursuit of profits be worth that?

If it hurts the children in any whatsoever there is no excuse. None. They are the bottom line.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Declan
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 01:59 PM

This is not just a feature of Irish Dancing though. The film Strictly Ballroom is about ballroom dancing in Australia, but the themes could easily be transferred to an Irish Dancing feis with minimal changes to the plot or the script.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 02:07 PM

Yeh - I hear it's happening in Nashville too. But don't those events mostly concern adults?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: clueless don
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 02:59 PM

A lot of the arguments against wigs, make-up, costumes, etc. in competitive Irish Step Dancing could also be made about competitive figure skating. I have the impression that competitive figure skating does not "mostly concern adults", but involves teenagers and younger children.

Someone mentioned ballroom dancing. I'm sure we could think of any number of sports/activities (e.g. synchronized swimming) that involve judging, and for which anything that the competitors - and more importantly their teachers/handlers - think will give them an edge with the judges is freely done, regardless of expense.

Don


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:50 PM

Nothing to do with Irish dancing, but: Go to Amazon and check out this book - you'll never want to let your kid near any competitive arena again. It's bone-chilling.

Little Girls In Pretty Boxes: The Making And Breaking Of Elite Gymnasts And Figure Skaters, by Joan Ryan

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Girls-Pretty-Boxes-Breaking/dp/0446676829/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235594415&sr=1-1


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: quokka
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 09:08 PM

"eaten the Book of Kells and vomited it up" - that's priceless, michaelr! ROFL


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Rowan
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 11:22 PM

It was an image that choked me too.

It's been a long time since I saw any competition Irish dancing but I recall being disconcerted that the dancing's end seemed to have no connection with the tune structure; I never bothered to explore "why?" But, with my daughters' mother having some Irish ancestry I was a little concerned that, one day, I'd have to make some effort to accommodate Irish dance competitions in my schedule.

Reading the thread, I feel blessed that daughter #1 got stuck into ballet (and its little foibles are bad enough) and daughter #2 "wanted" (at her own initiative) to explore Scottish Highland dancing with a mate. She's red hot at it, which means I have to cope with its foibles; thankfully, again they're not as bad (so far) as the ones described here. And I suspect it has helped her with her recorder playing; that's pretty red hot too.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 12:40 PM

Ciara, for the most part now dances for hire, and for joy. She is considering going back to the Feis thing just to add to her experience. I love what she is doing. These days she puts the joy into the dancing, and will throw her arms a bit, and dance with a huge smile. When she dances with her young man dance partner, the glee on their faces is just what dance ought to be. They are just enjoying the dance, and each others company, trying to each throw some touch of flair in the moves to outdo the other. It is a joy to watch that, as opposed to the platform hogging, dog eat dog, thing that happens in competition. She often dances in ordinary costumes, saving the cosmic celtic thing for a show of some sort.

Our culture, music, and dance, is an expression of our indomitable spirit and love of the land and peoples from which we all sprang, whether we are the children of Ireland, or its grandchildren abroad. When it is expressed that way, it is a thing of beauty and pride. When it turns into a dog eat dog thing, it is ugly.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Jim Lad
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 04:07 PM

"The kids compete in plain costume, and do the promo circuit in the show outfits, n'est-ce pas?"
I wish!
I have two problems with what they are doing with the kids.
1) The wigs. They look fine but are expensive and distracting for the dancers. I hate to see the wee hands going up to hold the wigs on. Most parents will tell you that it's better than sitting in a hotel room all night, curling the weans hair but for goodness sake isn't any wee girls hair just lovely whether it's straight or curly?
2) The dresses cost around $1.800Ca. A hefty price so before the parents can afford a new one, the dress is far too short.

It will take one or two brave young girls to go out and win a "First" with her own hair and one of those old dresses to turn things around.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Al Brighton
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:14 PM

When we book Irish dancers, admittedly not super young but late teens, we tend to book some that do not have the outrageous costumes. Subtle is a lot more hip and I think more accessible to audiences outside of the competitions.

As for young kids in make-up, that's always weird isn't it, pageants or dancing , urg, lots of make up is used to make you look sexy, not a quality that parents should be trying to encourage in there 6 year olds! It's really odd!

Music for display dancing in the UK is often the more over-mixed River-dance stuff on a CD, less subtle than the 'thrashy' guitar that I incidently love. (If we are talking J.D. style.) Funny how people hear different stuff in the music. Doesn't sound monotonous to meeee!
Also in similar 'thrashy' style backing this
Great Scoootish fiddlerwahooo, it's awesome

a


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 08:46 PM

What a fascinating thread. Barbershop competitions have also gotten demented by ridiculous costume expectations that I am desperately hoping will go out of style as the dinosaurs die off.

But back to the main question which was on the floor at the top, how to stop the crazy wigs and stuff at feis. (feises? feisanna?)
Doesn't Comhaltas hold the final sway in all this stuff and can't they be petitioned to institute some restrictions?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim I
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 09:14 PM

My son did Irish dancing from the age of about 6 until about 15 and took part in loads of competitions. He was never brilliant but still managed to win 60 or so medals and trophys (mainly places with a few firsts).

Fortunately the boys never had to go through quite the same fancy outfit sh*te as the girls but I saw a lot of it at first hand (designated driver all around the north west of England!).

I personally blame the parents for starting the fancy outfit syndrome and can remember the not-so-gradual proliferation. "She's got a fancy dress, our Mary has to have one too." It was all about competition with other parents.

The worst I saw was a girl of about 10 coming back proudly with her second place medal, beaming smnile on her face. She showed the medal to her mother. Mother grabbed the medal and hurled it across the room "You should have got a first!"

If I may comment on the guitar theme. I've played guitar for Irish and Scottish music for over 40 years. I usually use a plectrum and standard tuning and I vary my style and rhythm to suit the tune - jig/hornpip/reel etc, adding in runs where it seems appropriate; I even play a few tunes as well.   What really gets me are those who play only bar chords up the neck in a jazz or dance band manner up the neck with little regard for rhythym and none at all (apart hopefully for the basic key!) for 'relevant' chords. It is obvious that many have no idea of the tunes or the styles and are playing almost at random.

Don't get me wrong, there are many guitarists who can play in that manner using chords that match and harmonise with the music and whose playing is a joy to listen to, but there are too many more of the other kind.

OK rant over. Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Feis_girl
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 02:08 AM

Wow. I hope you all are joking, even just a little. I am offended at how quickly you've villified us and our parents.

Let's hear from some dancers who partake in competitions.

I've been competing for four years. I absolutely love it. It has enriched my dance career in ways I could never have imagined- I've gotten to travel, I've made friends, I've learned a lot about myself.

"It hurts the kids"? Seriously? Go to a feis and ask some kids. I'm sure there are stage parents out there, but in my four years' experience I have come across one, maybe two parents like this. I dare you to find any competitive sport/art form that doesn't have it's resident nutjob parents.

But please, please, please do not be so hasty to lump all parents together in one nasty group. My parents, and the parents of all my dance mates- have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. They have celebrated with me when I did well, encouraged me when I did poorly, and have always been proud no matter what. I believe you will find this to be the case at least 98% of the time. Competition is a very important part of a child's life- what an invaluable opportunity to learn grace, good sportsmanship, tact, and motivation. Yes, at the end of the day there are more "losers" than "winners"- but only if you constitute a "winner" as the person with the biggest trophy. It's all about attitude. It's one thing to throw a fit when you get second when you felt you should have won, but if you adjust your attitude, you can use it as motivation. "I came so close to winning, if I keep practicing I can do better next time." Or even, "I got fourth last time, and I got second now!" I'm not going to lie- it IS disappointing to get second sometimes, or last, or nothing at all. But guess what. That's life. It's not always fair, and you most certainly do not always get what you want. Why try to trick yourself into believing you do? I like to win, but at the end of the day, I compete because I love it, and ONLY because I love it. The minute I decide it's not worth it, I walk away from competition. So please, do not jump to such conclusions. I'm sure there are those out there who take it too far. Do not let those few poison you against the many of us who have a firm grasp on reality.

As for the costumes- yes they are expensive. No they are not required. Maybe it's expected, but not required. I was one fist place away form sweeping my first feis is a black leotard and skirt. I continued to wear that leotard and skirt until I had enough money to pay for a dress myself. I wore that dress- and placed well- until I had enough money to have a solo dress. There is something magical about getting your first solo dress. Unless you have experienced it, I'm not sure I can explain the feeling. All the blood, sweat and tears have paid off, and you have earned your dress. What another great lesson to kids- if you want something bad enough, you'll work for it and pay for it yourself. I wear the dress because I like it. If I didn't, believe me- I wouldn't. Same with the wig. It huts sometimes, but it is a choice I and I alone make. And I take full responsibility for that. (Whatever happened to taking responsibility anyway?) If you do it right, it shouldn't hurt, anyway. I have been beaten soundly by girls in simple dresses with no wig. As for the makeup- I wear it because I am nineteen. The younger kids at my school wear, at most, mascara, blush, and lipgloss. How is that "sexy"? The even younger girls wear no makeup at all. It is in no way forced upon us. The little girls who do wear makeup usually only do so at major competitions where the bright lights wash out the face. And even then, for the most part, the makeup is pretty tame.

Bottom line- if you don't want to pay for your kids' dress, don't. Make her save up for it herself. That's what I did and it didn't kill me. In fact, it made me appreciate it even more. If you don't like the direction Irish dance is going, distance yourself from it. There are plenty of us who extract nothing but joy from it. If you don't agree with the costumes or makeup, do not take part in it. There are no rules stating they are in any way necessary to compete. If some dancers have been banned from competition for lack of such costume, that is unfortunate and unfair. I have never experienced any sort of discrimination for not having a wig or fancy costume.

It is very unfair for you all to judge the effect this has on us. Some of us are mature and take losses- and wins- in stride and are able to see the big picture.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 02:30 AM

Thanks for that, Feis_girl. It's good to hear both sides of the discussion. I for one do not villify the dancers, though I seem to have come across far more pushy parents than you have and have seen makeup used by much younger girls than you report.

I think one of the big 'fault lines' in the discussion is the whole concept of competition. I agree very much with Big Mick: "Our culture, music, and dance, is an expression of our indomitable spirit and love of the land and peoples from which we all sprang, whether we are the children of Ireland, or its grandchildren abroad. When it is expressed that way, it is a thing of beauty and pride. When it turns into a dog eat dog thing, it is ugly."

On the one hand there are many people who love the fact it is a competition, and fair enough for them. For people who love that aspect, they will do 'what it takes' in exactly the same that a competitive athlete will, and the fact that they only get a few moments to show off their skills is of no more significance than the fact a high jumper or 100m sprinter only gets a few seconds, despite the months of work those athletes put in. And just like those athletes, coming second is a spur to do better.

However, for my part, I regard dance and music as more naturally collaberative than competitive. (I have no interest in competive sport either!) Like sport, once you achieve the higher levels doing 'what it takes' tends to have less and less to do with the sport itself and more and more to do with things that are incidental, such as the hoo-hah about the exact swimming costume at the last Olympics.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 03:00 AM

One more point I omitted. Feis_girl is nineteen and has been competing for four years, so started at fifteen. I suspect most people in this thread are thinking about significantly younger people than that. Certainly, I was thinking of people around ten, plus or minus a few years.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Jim Lad
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 03:30 AM

"I suspect most people in this thread are thinking about significantly younger people than that."
I certainly was.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM

Very good post, Feis Girl - thanks for weighing in with such an interesting, thought-provoking message. It's good to hear your side of the story. Yes, I was thinking of younger children.

I don't believe the dancers themselves have really been vilified here, and I for one have always been very sympathetic to the parents. My main problems are with seeing make-up and wigs being put on younger children, and with the expense of it all. Some people's families can't save up because the funds aren't there, or are needed for more practical things. These expenses do put it out of reach for some kids. Or so their mothers say, and I'm not going to dispute their word.

I know that the kids love the dancing, which has never been in question - it's a lot of the other pressures and requirements that go with it. I'm glad to hear that these side-accessories are not required, because from what I've been told, at least in some places, they seem to be, even if the requirement isn't written or actually stated as such. And yes, these (not the dancing itself) do hurt some of the kids. I know this from talking to them and to their parents. But I should have qualified that sentence so it didn't sound as though it applied to everyone.

I also think the issues of studying the art and the performance aspect of it have become a bit too merged in this discussion and should really be looked at separately. What I was talking about initially was children who just wanted to learn dancing being subjected to all the showbiz stuff - and not all of those who love to dance do like that side of it, believe me. I was looking at it from the perspective of being a teacher myself, and worrying about the effect on youngsters of having to wear makeup and heavy wigs (I still don't understand why they need them). I also don't think the competitive, showbiz elements are good for all of them, though of course this varies with each individual. Time and time again I have heard someone or their mother say that they just want to dance; why do they have to go through all that other stuff?

The thread has been too one-sided, mainly because the people who have posted to it are seeing it from their own perspective, and this is what their experience is. I'm glad to read your own account, to put things in balance and tell the other side of the story. Both aspects have truth in them - but my main worry is for the little ones, who only want to learn and have a bit of fun, getting pushed onto the stage. This does happen and they don't all want to be there.

But as regards someone a bit older who clearly loves it, more power to you. Thanks for writing.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM

Guest- Jim I - 'It was all about competition with other parents' That's more or less what I said, eons ago, their egos.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM

'worrying about the effect on youngsters of having to wear makeup and heavy wigs (I still don't understand why they need them).'

Bonnie, I couldn't agree more. Our culture seems to push girls into sexuality and adulthood before they are ready.

I don't know if you hear it, but far too often I see a parent smirk and say that the daughter is 'six going on twenty,' or something like that. They're proud of it!

Poor kids...

If Lewis Carroll's Alice could see some of the stuff that goes on today, she would say, 'Neuroticker and neuroticker.'


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Rowan
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 09:06 PM

A dancer who starts at 15 probably has more control over her participation than one who starts at 3, or even 10; a dancer who is still doing it at 19 is effectively an adult and is bringing an adult's perceptions to their activities. As an aside, I reckon it's excellent that Feis girl is still engaging in the more formal aspects of dance (rather than only the purely social ones) because it has been my experience that most who start as children end their active participation at around 16 and it saddens me that they don't continue and bring increasingly mature perspectives to their dancing.

The underlying theme of most posters' critiques seems to be the familiar one of parental projection of their own interests (inadequacies?) onto their children. "Sport parents" or "stage parents", as some have described them, are the worst (in my experience) and I suspect act more to inhibit the next generation's interest in continuing the activity at hand rather than encouraging it. Feis girl appears to have encountered such people and remained unaffected; good for her! Other posters appear to have been more unlucky.

But another underlying theme is the projection onto children of inappropriate and even distorted (usually adult) notions of sexuality by both the wider community, generally, and by stage/dance/competition mentors (especially parents) in particular. When Vogue uses 15 year-olds to model adult themes on its covers, I suppose parents could be forgiven for unthinkingly falling into such traps. But professional mentors (sporting coaches and dance teachers, eg) ought to be held up to, and critiqued against, a higher standard.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM

I agree with Rowan's point (Hi Rowan) about professional mentors. I think one or two posts above have hinted at the bahaviour of some teachers. There are certainly some (and they certainly aren't all like this) who are ambitious for themselves, more than for their pupils. My daughter had one such, who seemed only to be interested in the competitions (not just our experience; she had a reputation for this). She never bothered with displays at garden fetes and such events, and didn't teach social dance. It was all competition stuff. When my daughter had had enough of the competitions, it was clear that the teacher was no longer interested in her. In fact, when the class lost their practice hall and had to find another, we weren't informed; we just turned up to find the class had moved. The teacher then intervened when she heard that my daughter was joining another class, preventing her from doing so for a year, citing some rule which I can't remember off hand. The new teacher was quite happy for my daughter not to enter competitions. The teachers could surely do something about this wig and make-up nonsense, but as long as they are in competition with one another, they probably won't co-operate in this way. I think many parents fall into the trap of thinking "it's just how things are - there's nothing you can do". It's how things are because people go along with it. Competing is all very well; people should strive for excellence in anything they do, and competition encourages this. But it's not what dancing is all about.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 08:25 AM

>I think many parents fall into the trap of thinking "it's just how things are - there's nothing you can do". It's how things are because people go along with it.

Excellently put, John. Rowan too (who is in Australia, so this is obviously an international issue). It's the reason I started this thread - not to put down dancers who love the competition/show scene and can take on board all the trappings and pressures that go with it, but for those who don't and can't.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 09:19 AM

Actually, I wonder how many people -children or adults - take up dancing with a view to competing. I would have thought most do it because they want to dance. Same with music and singing, although there are competitions here too. Sport is a rather different matter, and is competitive in essence, even on the level of half a dozen lads playing in the street with goalposts or cricket stumps chalked on the walls (showing my age - you could play in the street when I were a lad).
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 09:55 AM

In playing in The Flyin' Column, (the US group, not the rebel band from Ireland, we sung that song years ago) I have seen girls dance, become Moms, and have daughters who dance.

    I've seen families I know who have nothing left at the end of the week go out and support their daughters dancing. I have seen well off kids give other kids shoes to do the next dance in. I've seen Moms and Dad scream at the girls because they are out of step and Moms and Dads cheer as madly for third place as they do for first.

    I've seen petulant little girls throw fits false eyelashes being loose and the girl next to her give her a Molly Wop to get the whiner back on track.

    Dancing is little league for girls and boys who dance. It comes with all the best and worse parts of the experience. Moms, no longer fit enough to get their feet off the ground, dancing on in the form of their lithe children. Dad's talking in corners at the Hibernian's wondering if their son the dancer isn't, "That way?" but supporting him at the Feis whether he is or not.

    Dancing is what it is. I hate the wigs and the neon mini skirts and the false eyelashes. I'd rather see bluejeans, a T shirt, and a pair of hard soles. It will take a movie with a bunch of kids doing their best with nothing and winning against a bunch prima donas in patterned dresses to turn this around.   Bad News Bears do Step Dance.    If I never hear Cotton Eyed Joe again I won't mind. (I can't tell you how many people I know who think it is an Irish trad tune)

    I hate the win or die attitude of some of the instructors and the parents. But I love the kids who dance for the sake of the dance.


Don


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 08:01 PM

i've commented on this many times on air on my radio program. I'd say it is not a particularly virulent form, and shouldn't be even be compared to other forms that are, and have been, violently persecuted, but it IS RACISM. To be an Irish colleen one MUST have curly hair, preferably reddish/ If it is not naturally curly, it is to be curled for hours, OR, the ugly, stupid wigs. I have stated my opinion to many parents encouraging them to not put up with this, but they all say it is the only way their daughters have a chance of ever winning at a Feis. It would be like a tap dancing competition where all the kids had to wear black-face and afro wigs to be considered authentic. I've even seen Asian girls in competition wearing these silly curly head pieces. It is disgusting. Don't just blame the parents, blame the judges who like to see the bouncing curls, and the organizations that sanction this kind of child abuse. "No, your just not pretty enough without some curl in your hair, no matter how well you dance."


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: DMcG
Date: 01 Mar 09 - 02:27 AM

I've spent a little time trying to find out what account the official scoring system takes for wigs/makeup/dresses etc, with comparitively little success. This seems to be the most definitive:

The Irish Dancing Commission has established a 100-point scoring system for judging competitors. A dancer's performance is evaluated in four categories with an equal percentage of points in each of the categories (i.e., 25%). The categories are timing (rhythm), carriage (deportment and style), construction of steps (complexity), and execution (presentation). In ceili or figure dancing, distribution of the 100 points is 30 points for timing, 30 points for figures, and 40 points for deportment and style.

Nothing there that explicitly mentions the wigs and makeup. However, there is recurring theme of the importance of appearance, and I was particular struck by this webpage:

With St. Patricks day coming up, the children hope to show there skills around XXXXXXXX in dancing displays. XXXXXXX Academy Irish Dancers, already known for their discipline and neatness, will be performing a fundraising display for 100 people at the Masonic Hall on March the 28th, amongst other places.

Of all the adjectives I could pick to describe an Irish dance team in a regional what's-on? website, I don't think those are the ones I'd go for...


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: caitlin rua
Date: 01 Mar 09 - 04:56 AM

Me either. Neatness? I've never seen a display where the dancers DIDN'T look neat. How can one team be any "neater" than the rest, when they're all impeccable? What about their dancing?

However, this may just be some local bod who is doing a bit of PR-writing and doesn't actually know anything about the event he/she is publicising. "The children hope to show there skills" ?      

There sure isn't any mention in those regulations of entrants having to specifically wear curls or stage paint - but then, there won't be, will there? That kind of stuff is always unwritten. The parents around here say the same as all the rest. They "have to" comply, official rule or not. And they're not happy about it. The stage mothers - which do exist, as they seem to everywhere - are vastly outnumbered by the ordinary mums who only want the best for their daughters but are sometimes unclear about what that actually is. The stage mothers are more forceful, more vocal, more in-your-face, so they tend to punch well above their weight. (Bound to: they're used to doing it.) But if the sheer numerical mass of others ever lined up in an organised way, they'd be outvoted. Not going to happen though. People are mostly scared to make waves.

If the judges do like to see bouncing curls, and each contestant is only competing for under a minute, in a line alongside several others, tell me lads - if they're looking at the "hair", how do they manage to actually see enough of the footwork to get a true impression of the dancer's abilities? What if, during the moment they happen to throw their passing glance at your feet, it chances to fall during an unshowy or momentarily ungraceful moment? You could be the next Michael or Michaelette Flatley and you'll be overlooked. I would have thought that under these conditions, yet one more visual distraction is exactly what they DON'T need.

Bill Kennedy, I wish those judges would listen to your radio show. Where do you broadcast? Ireland/USA/Britain? Online streaming? But even our naturally-curly red-headed colleens (which I was, once) don't have corkscrew ringlets like that! No one does, any more than girls are born with blue eyelids or shiny purple fingernails. It's a stereotype based on a phenomenon that doesn't even exist in real life.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Mar 09 - 06:20 PM

I have two nieces and a nephew who did Irish step dancing. Seriously. And they were into it for years; it wasn't just a passing fad.

Once I went to a feis and learned that the girls were being judged on (among other things) the state of their socks. Were they very white? new? completely straight, or if twisted into place, twisted in a geometric manner?

In other words, how much time and money had a mother put into her daughter's socks?

In my opinion, the dancing is so regimented that the judges were forced to compare socks rather than performances.
======
As for the wigs, I've been thinking. I think that most of the kids, especially the young ones, don't associate the wigs and curlers with sexuality. But they certainly get the message that 'Your hair isn't pretty enough.' That's sad.

I would never let my kid into the world of stepdancing.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Thompson
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 01:51 AM

The idea of a 'curly-haired Irish colleen' is funny - most Irish people don't have curly hair!

I'm watching with enormous enjoyment the BBC series on American folk, recorded and sent to me by a kind Cat. There's dancing in that series that really is dancing - joyful, fun, swinging, beautiful - not the joyless and artificial dancing, with those rigid, false smiles and constrained steps, that is so often seen in the competions.

And the people dancing are in their working clothes, their overalls, and ragged ones at that, or homemade dresses. But they blow away any primped-up contest dancer I've ever seen.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: caitlin rua
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 04:46 AM

> The idea of a 'curly-haired Irish colleen' is funny

You should have seen me! My hair didn't so much curl, it bent. Then crimped. Then sprang. Then got loose and terrorised the village. I would have given anything to have straight hair like normal kids had. Now, "normal" doesn't seem to be what's wanted.

Yes, that smiling little boy stepping away in his work (because, judging from the age of that shot, I'll bet he DID work) clothes is a joy to watch. He doesn't look as though he has a particularly soft life, and dancing obviously brings him pleasure and comfort. Us too, just looking at him. Same with the kids here, when they're allowed to BE kids. That doesn't only mean the right to look natural and be who you are, it also means the freedom to mess up and make mistakes without publicly humiliating yourself, annoying a whole rake of people around you, and generally suffering consequences.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Penny S.
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM

This has explained something I have wondered about for some years after watching a little girl in primary school performing in assembly on occasions as she grew up, in flourescent dyed boards like a playing card from Alice. don't tell me the monks of Kells had access to those colours.

It obviously goes along with the other little girls from the local dancing school, the owner of which has a national reputation on TV, performing in costumes which matched the style of the movements in being unsuitable for primary age children.

It's not just the Irish dance.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM

True enough Penny. The great English Tradition of Carnival Morris Dancing has some of the same issues about costume and appearance.

The arguments explored above seem convincing, not that it's any of my business, but are the posters above ready to take the argument to where it really matters?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 05:44 AM

This thread has been at the top for a full week. This morning I just had to "bite" and take a look. It certainly does appear to be an "Irish Phenom..." and certainly alien to anything I have seen.

As a Yank - kids to me are 3 to 12 years old.

Your description of cardboard stiff costumes, day-glow colors and plastic-curl hair does certainly seem peculiar

In the age of "YouTube" for the edification of some inthe American audience reading this thread could you possibly find one example of an Irish Step Dancing Contest participant clothed as you believe is GOOD and another example of the clownish type costume you detest as "child abuse?

This is interesting. Is it only practiced in the Republic - or up north also? It seems as strange to me as Hurling or Road Bowling - (but those are easy subjects to find video clips for)

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 05:51 AM

>...are the posters above ready to take the argument to where it really matters?

I think the only people who are going to be listened to are those with some power of leverage - i.e. the parents, who provide the children and the economic backing for lessons and all the other gear; and teachers - who probably have a lot to lose if they displease someone higher up in the power structure or alienate/scare off too many customers.

As Caitlín says, if they all made a co-ordinated stand it would probably have some effect, but they would have to organise, and organisation requires a leader. The dance world doesn't have anything to lose by us outsiders moaning. Someone would have to threaten them where it hurts - lack of participants and financial input. From what I can read, most of those posting here aren't in a position to do that.

It's a very, very good point though. You're spot on.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:04 AM

Perhaps you need a two pronged strategy? One for parents who are dissatisfied and another through people in the Irish folk community who could speak directly to the organisers of the competitions from a"tradition and traditional value" perspective.

Ok I can hear people telling me to mind my own business. But it is worth remembering that children are the largest group to suffer prejudice and discrimination.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:07 AM

Garg, I'd be a little worried about holding young dancers up as a "bad" example of anything. Even if the criticism is focused on the hair and costume, it's their wig and their costume, which they chose and paid money for. They're bound to feel publicly humiliated, even if it wasn't intended that way.

You can try googling around the Irish-dance-costume shops; a look at the wares on offer will probably give you a pretty good idea. I've seen some amazingly horrible wigs and dresses that make the 60s outfits look monochrome; but in these awful economic times I don't want to hold any commercial concern up to ridicule simply for doing what all the others are too.

You can try going to www.google.ie which should take you to the Irish site, and put in some relevant search terms. You can refine it to searching Irish web pages only; but as people have pointed out, it's happening all over.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:18 AM

To my way of thinking - you are refering to costumes such as the "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance" shows that toured the states with the "giant wrestling mania type belt buckle" and the black-light glow-in-the-dark colors.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:24 AM

The chorus-line Riverdance costumes were pretty subdued, and my (hazy) memory of LOTD doesn't throw out any startling images either. I don't think the show's producers would have wanted the backline to compete visually with the stars. The current competition dresses are far more outré, and judging from what others say, that seems to be the reason for it: catch the judge's eye in the nanosecond available to you.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:27 AM

I don't think so, in some ways the 'Riverdance' phenomena freed up the attire worn in Irish dancing (as well as the dancing itself)!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM

I'm speaking only of the rank-&-file dancers. Flatley is a law unto himself! I always thought Jean Butler was gorgeous in RD, and her whole style was one of restrained elegance, not LOOK AT MEEEEE

But then, she could afford to be. She was the female lead.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:29 AM

Sorry, that comment was referring to 'Gargoyel's', not yours, Bonnie (you got in just before me)!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:35 AM

Jim - my post was in answer to Gargoyle's last message, not yours! Cross-posting. Certainly those dance shows did overturn a lot of conventions.

While I'm correcting myself, by "60s outfits" above, I meant hippie gear, not earlier dance costumes.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM

WAHHHHHHH - another cross post!!! I think The Fates are telling me I ought to get off the internet and go do some work . . .


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM

I have the answer! The judges want wigs and make-up? So on a pre-arranged date, the girls all turn up in fright wigs and clown make-up. And perhaps the boys could wear red noses and revolving bow ties. What are they going to do about it? Cancel the whole feis? Then nobody would lose anything by it. Won't happen though, will it?
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 10:02 AM

HH, are we sure it was the judges' idea? Who thought of the wigs and make-up in the first place?


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM

Difficult to know who started it; I suspect that it's started innocently enough, with somebody turning up with artifically-curled hair, and others copying it. Then perhaps some of these girls have got better marks, and the suspicion has got about that it was because of the curls, so then everybody has felt that they had to do it to compete. And so on. But there's a definite idea that it's now become a requirement (see some of the comments in previos posts). It certainly isn't being discouraged by the judges.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: caitlin rua
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 11:32 AM

They could easily put a stop to it in the morning, just by making some clear rules against it, at least as regards children. The fact that they don't tells you everything you need to know. A lot of obligations are of the unwritten variety. That doesn't make them any less powerful.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,new to all this
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM

I am so happy to be involved in a school that discourages wigs and encourages performance outside of competition. I am a professional dancer myself and I thought that traditional dance would be a nice introduction to the discipline, rhythm, and spacial awareness of all dance. The whole competetive aspect caught me by surprise. While my daughter loves to go to a feis, I am really trying hard to keep in mind why I got her involved in the first place. No wigs, no makeup, no solo dress and not very often. Each one of us needs to take a breath before the kids drag us to another event, and remember why they are there - to dance from their hearts, watch and support friends, and have fun. Perhaps slowly, people will stop worrying about "having an edge" and allow the dance to become the important part again.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: clueless don
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

My former teacher, who is also a judge (for those of you in the "biz", I mean she is a TCRG and an ADCRG), once told me that the ringlet curls look harks back to old Ireland, when girls would curl their hair in preparation for attending Sunday Mass, after which the dance competitions would take place. Older judges, who remembered those days, were apparently favorably disposed to girls/young women who had that "look", and so gave them higher scores.

Whether or not any of this is true or not is probably beside the point. The point is that teachers believe that judges will give higher scores to those with "the look", and so will require this of their students.

Don


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM

The dead hand of the church?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:25 PM

As it happens, Riverdance is on tour and there have been trailers on local TV. The female dancers are wearing very plain costumes and most have straight hair.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 06:50 PM

Here in the Irish-American Southwest, I have friends with kids who've been involved. The story one gave me about the ringlets is that the whole scene got its standards established in the age of Shirley Temple, when that was what little girls (or their mothers) aspired to, and it's stuck.

My friends daughters were happy to put on the wig for performing and take it off right away, rather than having to deal with the curlers all night and having the curls droop during the day...

I have to say it's not a scene that has attracted me...

~ Becky in Tucson (Arizona, USA)


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 07:34 PM

But the point is, why should they have to worry about curls at all? What's that got to do with dancing? Whether they're synthetic or real, from wigs or curlers all night, curls are an unnecessary burden. They don't even look good on everyone.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 09 - 03:12 AM

I have always found that when groups of people are made to wear uniforms sooner or later silly arguments will break out and the people enforcing them will move to extremes, usually with unfounded claims of why they are important. The people wearing the uniform will find ways of subverting the rules and will be punished or excluded. It's all about power and control.

Cheers

L n C


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 09 - 04:04 AM

Decades ago, when I first visited County Clare I used to look forward to our weekly trips to Gleesons of Coore (now sadly discontinued) where the (mainly, but not exclusively) elderly locals would dance The Clare Set, The Caledonian, and occasionally, if you were lucky, the greatly misnamed Plain Set. Occasionally, again if you were lucky, you would see a male dancer 'batter' - a magnificent display of virtuosity - now all but disappeared locally.
I really am having trouble tying up some of the descriptions of what passes for Irish dancing today with what I enjoyed then.
Wigs, mini (in some cases micro) skirts, waistcoats and tight trousers, all of which appear to be obligatory for today's dancers. And those strange, pseudo-Celtic designs (the best description of these I have heard was "It looks like they have eaten The Book of Kells and vomited down their fronts").
And the competitions - I have seen more young people (in the U.K. particularly) turned off Irish music, singing and dancing forever because they didn't win 'the glittering prizes' - a truly shoddy way of valuing Irish culture; prizes are for winners, enjoyment is for everybody.
What happened to the joy of simply dancing in all this?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 03 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM

Jim, I used to dance sets at Gleesons, for me it was always the highlight of the Willie Clancy Week. But it was much more than that, the pub (& shop) were like a local community centre which the locals had used all their lives, what has replaced it? I think we all know the answer!


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Mar 09 - 05:30 AM

Good poits well made Jim:

"I have seen more young people (in the U.K. particularly) turned off Irish music, singing and dancing forever because they didn't win 'the glittering prizes' - a truly shoddy way of valuing Irish culture;"

And a shoddy way of valuing children I'd say

L in C


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,JenniferMcG
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM

Someone mentioned how the wigs and fancy dresses came about so as to catch the judge's eye. Wouldn't it make sense then to let the dancer where her hair naturally. That should catch the judge's attention!

My daughter is a beginner so she only wears her school's required uniform (little black skirt and white blouse) but they do wear a bun wig in the school show. She has told me she doesn't want to wear it when she dances at the feis.

I have been searching for the "rules" and haven't found the wigs mentioned as requirements. This forum has been EXTREMELY helpful and liberating! Now I know I am not alone!!!

Thank you all!!
-Jenny


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Maryrrf
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM

I was at an event recently where an Irish dance school was performing and it was their last event. The lady who founded the school was was closing it because she said that, while she loved teaching the dancing itself, the competitions and costume issues were wearing her out. I didn't get a chance to ask any questions - as to whether it was the parents who were causing the pressure, or what the issues were. The dancers ranged from around 5 years old to 13 or 14 and some wore plain skirts and blouses - others had on dresses that looked like they were quite costly.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Middle Class Molly
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM

I am at a feis this weekend. The dancing is an exquisite form of art, but the wigs and makeup??? And I thought little girl beauty pageants were bad! When I danced (a hundred years ago, it seems), it was so much simpler. Too many families cannot afford the prices - what can we do about it? (Just found this link)


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,Kenzie
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 07:49 AM

I am an Irish dancer. I dance because I love it. It is my favorite thing to do, and I don't agree with any Of these comments. I am wearing a wig right now, and the curls are anything but plasticy. The are soft and bouncy and add to the visual aspect of the dance. Also, I don't think you quite get the point of the dresses and the sparkles. Irish dance is a competitive sport. The sparkles and the bright colors are to catch the judges eye so she/he looks at YOU and watches YOU dance. I respect your opinions, but I feel that you are interpreting this sport the wrong way. My friends and I do it for the fun, not because we are forced, or for our parent's egos.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 08:04 AM

Fair enough. But remember, your experience is not shared by everyone, and people have the right to speak as they find - I don't think it's a case of anybody being "right" or "wrong". This is an issue that has more than one side to it (see my reply to Feis Girl, 27 Feb 09, 3:51 AM). And the financial aspect is a definite problem for some.

Obviously no one viewpoint is the only true one. But it's always good to hear all sides of the story.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Maryrrf
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 09:47 AM

I recently went to a festival where the Irish dancers just wore basic black outfits - and found I was able to concentrate on (and enjoy) the actual dancing more, without the distraction of the wigs and fancy costumes. In this particular performance not only were the dancers quite skilled, they were very obviously enjoying themselves. It was a performance, not part of a competition, to an enthusiastic audience, so there was no pressure on anybody to win.   Come to think of it, if it is a contest as to who is the best dancer, wouldn't it be better for everyone to wear the same outfit, so that the only way to grab the judges attention would be the dancing itself? Oh well, to each his own.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jan 12 - 11:59 AM

I am just getting my daughter involved in this. She loves it and she is 6 and off to her first feis next month. There are clear rules on dress and no make up for the younger ones. However, as she gets older I will also try to abide to our own aesthetic while hopefully not doing anything that will result in negative attention.

No wigs. I find the wigs totally unappealing. Her natural hair is plenty curly. A nice curly updo can work. Minimal make up. And certainly no tan. Attractive but not mortgage payment worthy dress. My mom sews so perhaps home made dresses can be one way around this financial part. I think that later teens can make their own decisions if they can also participate in funding some of these embellishments.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 31 Jan 14 - 08:35 AM

Finally. Why has it taken so long? From IrishCentral.com

GET RID OF IRISH DANCING WIGS AS WELL AS MAKEUP, SAY PARENTS
Our Facebook page has been flooded with comments. It is highly unusual that there is agreement on anything on our stories, but when over 500 parents essentially say the same thing, you know this one is different.

In addition to Facebook, the Irish Central article itself has a slew of similar remarks beneath it - see links below. (Apologies for the lack of clickies but the Cat is so slow that the page keeps timing out - so it's a copy-&-paste job unless some other kind soul can oblige.)

http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/niallodowd/Get-rid-of-Irish-dancing-wigs-as-well-as-makeup-say-parents.html#ixzz2ryqxG862

See also:

IRISH DANCING WIGS CAN CAUSE BALDNESS

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irish-dancing-wigs-can-cause-baldness-experts-warn-130693128-237414431.html

OTHER MUDCAT THREAD:

BS: wigs in Irish dancing

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=150775


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 31 Jan 14 - 10:21 AM

I do agree that there is no NEED for wigs & expensive costumes... we wore uniforms in Catholic school on the theory that it made everyone equal... though the kids whose parents had money had plenty of ways to show that off.

When I worked with show horses, western classes had gone from wearing clean jeans and shirt to silver studded tack and matching outfits on the riders. Fine for the circus... but by god! it got turned into another status symbol free for all. If you got, flaunt- it taken to the nth degree.

Competition does not always bring out the best in folks... and it takes concerted effort to rein in the excesses that seem so important to some. Put the money into good footwear that won't hurt growing feet and use costumes that enhance their ability to dance... and the heck with the so called visual experience.


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Subject: RE: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 31 Jan 14 - 11:18 AM

senior moment... just came to mind as I was thinking about how sterotyped being Irish & having curly hair and I remembered a great show I saw on Sundance or Documentary Channel ( lost it when the dvr died) about an Irish born teacher who taught in the Bronx projects and turned her kids into first class step dancers, even taking them over to Dublin.

I would love to get my hands on a copy of that show, Bronx Dream?? No category yet for her in the Grammys, but who knows.


ish born


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Mudcat time: 18 September 9:32 PM EDT

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