mudcat.org: Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3]


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
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:






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?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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 . . .


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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 ...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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

HEAR HEAR !!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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'...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

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.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 October 5:41 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.