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Wigs/Makeup in kids' Irish dance feis

GUEST,sciencegeek 31 Jan 14 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 31 Jan 14 - 10:21 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 31 Jan 14 - 08:35 AM
GUEST 19 Jan 12 - 11:59 AM
Maryrrf 17 Sep 11 - 09:47 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 17 Sep 11 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Kenzie 17 Sep 11 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,Middle Class Molly 02 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM
Maryrrf 16 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,JenniferMcG 16 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 09 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 03 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 09 - 04:04 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Mar 09 - 03:12 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 07:34 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Mar 09 - 06:50 PM
Howard Jones 02 Mar 09 - 06:25 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM
clueless don 02 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,new to all this 02 Mar 09 - 02:16 PM
caitlin rua 02 Mar 09 - 11:32 AM
Harmonium Hero 02 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,leeneia 02 Mar 09 - 10:02 AM
Harmonium Hero 02 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 02 Mar 09 - 06:29 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 02 Mar 09 - 06:27 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Mar 09 - 06:18 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 06:07 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 06:04 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Mar 09 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 02 Mar 09 - 05:44 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM
Penny S. 02 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM
caitlin rua 02 Mar 09 - 04:46 AM
Thompson 02 Mar 09 - 01:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Mar 09 - 06:20 PM
caitlin rua 01 Mar 09 - 04:56 AM
DMcG 01 Mar 09 - 02:27 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 28 Feb 09 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 28 Feb 09 - 09:55 AM
Harmonium Hero 28 Feb 09 - 09:19 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Feb 09 - 08:25 AM
Harmonium Hero 28 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM
Rowan 27 Feb 09 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 27 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM
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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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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: 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
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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 - 06:28 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 - 06:27 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 - 06:24 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,.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 - 06:07 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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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