Forum: Irish / Irish

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re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Realtreble
On Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:01 PM
Kirvin3 wrote:

Our son is two and not dancing YET, but he already has a kilt and hopefully will dance in it for a while at least. There was a boy at our school who did for a couple years. There was also a man at the Mid-America Oireachtas in the Traditional Set competition (adults) in a kilt and jacket.


There's a newer school in NE Ohio whose boys wear kilts for teams and as a school costume. They look great!
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Realtreble
On Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:30 PM
Edited by Realtreble (146991) on 2014-02-02 12:35:02
Dresswitch wrote:

There was a post, about the way Irish dancers dressed themselves throughout history, here on dance.net : www.dance.net . . .
What we can see in the pictures is a developing fashion parallel to everyday fashion.


The post you linked was mine. The conclusion you drew was not mine, nor do I agree with it entirely. What you see in the photos is an attempt to maintain cultural artifacts in costumes and maintain continuity with costumes worn in Ireland. I believe modern elements were incorporated only for economy's sake.

A truer, more defensible conclusion would be dresses in the 80s, 90s and into the 21st century showcased both Irish motifs and the dressmakers' talents. Just look at the "sandwich board" 3-panel skirts; they were the perfect canvas for embroidered and appliquéd Celtic motifs. That choice of skirt style certainly didn't reflect streetwear or couture of the time. Nor was the style in vogue for easy of dancing--just ask any dancer who wore one.

Your observation certainly holds true in the last 5 years, with one designer, Gavin, vigorously incorporating runway couture elements into his dresses and advertising. Other designers have followed his lead to a greater or lesser extent.

Personally, I'm happy to see a slight renaissance of Celtic motifs in costuming. You are correct, there is a wider variety of costuming than in the previous two decades.

For the record, I applaud the CLRG makeup rule as it relates to dancers 9 years old and under. Please be reminded, the ban on wigs is a rumor at this time. The approach of the CLRG seems to be one of small steps; let's wait to see if the wig ban is one of those small steps.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Dresswitch
On Sun Feb 02, 2014 01:56 PM
Realtreble wrote:


Just look at the "sandwich board" 3-panel skirts; they were the perfect canvas for embroidered and appliqu������©d Celtic motifs. That choice of skirt style certainly didn't reflect streetwear or couture of the time. Nor was the style in vogue for easy of dancing--just ask any dancer who wore one.


Yes, you are right, my parallel to every day fashion does not work for that period. But up to the fifties it ran parallel.
And Gavin gets a lot of inspiration from the catwalk in my opinion.
I placed the link to your post for the wonderful pictures posted by you and other DDNers, not for the conclusions. Sorry for the hijack.
And of course, the dancers under 9 don't participate at the worlds, so no need for make-up.
But in the discussion on IC some mentioned no make-up under 16. Are they telling 16 year olds (there are plenty 16 year olds in U16) to remove their make-up, they wear daily, before the competition. Here I don't mean that CLRG will do this, it's what some people in the discussion want.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Dresswitch
On Sun Feb 02, 2014 04:08 PM
Realtreble wrote:


Just look at the "sandwich board" 3-panel skirts; they were the perfect canvas for embroidered and appliqu����¯�¿�½������©d Celtic motifs. That choice of skirt style certainly didn't reflect streetwear or couture of the time. Nor was the style in vogue for easy of dancing--just ask any dancer who wore one.



Yes, you are right, my parallel to every day fashion does not work for that period. But up to the fifties it ran parallel.
And Gavin gets a lot of inspiration from the catwalk in my opinion.
I placed the link to your post for the wonderful pictures posted by you and other DDNers, not for the conclusions. Sorry for the hijack.
And of course, the dancers under 9 don't participate at the worlds, so no need for make-up.
But in the discussion on IC some mentioned no make-up under 16. Are they telling 16 year olds (there are plenty 16 year olds in U16) to remove their make-up, they wear daily, before the competition. Here I don't mean that CLRG will do this, it's what some people in the discussion want.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Realtreble
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 07:31 AM
One of the strengths of ddn vis a vis the voy boards is the limited amount of rumor and specualation posted here. Once something appears in print, it gains credibility, warranted or not. That is certainly the case with IC. It has a few bits of accurate fact and lots of speculation and look at all the emotions generated. What ID needs, to borrow from the Bard, is "more light than heat."
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By tinydancer1988
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 08:39 AM
I’m just going to throw this out there- a lot of little girls LOVE the opportunity to wear makeup once in a while, and have fun with it. I don’t think that any child should be forced to wear makeup (whether by their teachers, or parents), but if they want to, I don’t think that a little lipstick hurts anyone.

And when I started dancing at the age of 4, wigs didn’t exist. Do you know how much of a pain in the freaking ass it is to get the hair of a 6 year old curled? But I wanted curly hair, so my mom did it, and I suffered through sleeping in curlers and not being able to swim in the hotel pool the night before.

Wigs were the biggest freaking god send, and until you have experienced this, you have NO freaking right to comment.

No, kids shouldn’t be forced into using wigs and makeup, yes, some people go way overboard. But they SHOULD NOT BAN WIGS. EVER.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 2)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 09:01 AM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2014-02-03 09:30:14
I think what's concerning about the reaction to the rule is that some mothers obviously need handholding into parenting their child. It's as if they're incapable of making the decision that's right for them and their child without official say-so. So they've all been using the make-up they despise even though there's never been a rule requiring it, rather than making what they feel is the right choice. They've continued in a practice that they feel is wrong/immoral/sexualising/inappropriate, just because there's no rule telling them not to. Now they say wigs next! Or tans next! When they could just easily stop tanning and stop be-wigging their kids already, or two months ago, or a year ago. They could have stopped putting make-up on their child two months or a year ago, too. But they chose not to.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Lunamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:41 AM
I think what it really comes down to is that when various teachers or parents just go completely overboard or to the extreme with the wigs, makeup, tan, blinged dresses, etc. that really cause these things to become issues.

I have seen some little girls look adorable in a little bit of makeup and a nice wig but I have also seen little girls with makeup thickly painted on making them look gaudy and I don't want to use the word "hooker" but it looks very inappropriate with massive wigs that totally consume their little head and they look ridiculous and overdone. Then with the dresses I think a little bit of sparkle is great but when the entire dress is so encrusted with rhinestones you need shades to look at them I think it's a little much. Oh and the fake tan, well, I think a little bit is ok for just a touch of color but when they look hispanic on the bottom and Irish on the top I think it's waaay too much!

It's just the fact that many parents and TCRGs think that the extremes are the norms or are the ideal "look" for competitive Irish dancing. It doesn't have to be that way though!
Many people don't understand that it is ok to not have a massive wig on a 7 year old child or to just have a touch of mascara and some lipgloss on their face and they look great for champion level competition. Many people involved in the styling of the little girls who Irish dance don't understand the concept of "LESS IS MORE" and thus many of them appear extremely overdone and borderline ridiculous (and I'm being nice here). In the end this extreme in Irish dancing fashion has become the expected idea of what a champion or successful dancer looks like and many parents and TCRGs think their dancer/s HAVE to look this way in order to place well or become world champions.

It's just sad when so many people can't see that you don't have to follow these trends to be a successful Irish dancer, plus you can save lots of money by not using 3 cans of spray tan per feis and realizing that it's ok to spend less than $1000 on a dress they will only wear a couple times.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 1)
By tinydancer1988
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 01:48 PM
They've posted another article about "how irish dancing has lost it's way," and it's just more of the same sh*t from an uninformed person who has admittedly never been an Irish dancer.

HOW DARE YOU??? You have NO RIGHT to comment!!!!!! I am so angry that I feel nauseous right now. The only reason that this crap is being published is because people are getting so heated about it, so I'm not linking the page to give them more page traffic.

If they really want to redeem their journalistic "ethics", they need to report the OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Because there's plenty of people who do not agree with them, despite the fact that they say "Most people hate the wigs before anything else." I don't really think that it's "most" of the dance community- I just think that they were too lazy to actually do any research, so they made a broad sweeping generalization.

And this really burns me. They made this into a pseudo-pan-feministic plea to turn your daughters away from the evils of beauty pageantry and the need to look pretty to please others (don't even get me started... if they like looking pretty, they should be taught to do it for themselves instead of others. They should not be told that it's wrong to like makeup and dressing up in sparkles).

But then, in contrast with the feminist message, they put this schlock in there:
"Beneath the flashy, friendly exterior lurks a hyper-competitive subculture that will increasingly stop at nothing to gain an edge and a winning result. That crazed focus on winning certainly speaks to the wider world, where the anxiety over winning and losing has grown as the middle class economy shrinks. But do we really want to project that kind of anxiety onto impressionable young girls (and it is predominantly young girls who are targeted by this Stepford-like conformity) just as they're beginning to come to terms with the adult word?"

Are you freaking kidding me? Are young girls too "impressionable" and "weak" to handle real competition? Are they too "vindictive" to deal with competing against other girls? Are they going to go faint, or my oh me, get "the vapors" if they don't place as high as they would like to? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????

I am so angry right now that I cannot stop shaking. This HAS to stop.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By sarahrID
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 02:06 PM
One of the things I find so sad is that when I watch videos and see pics of the oireachtas champs and world medal holders/winners, the vast majority of them I think look beautiful. Their makeup is appropriate for their age and for the scale of the stage. Most girls have wigs that fit their look. The most common "violation" I see might be a bit too much tanner on the legs.

So all of the parents out there who load their kids up with makeup and put their children in wigs that overwhelm them because they think it helps them succeed really aren't helping. The girls and ladies who win don't do that, and in my opinion, it is ludacris to think that heavy make up will make up for lack of hard work and/or talent. It won't help a dance get that last dance into prizewinner or get that second first to make it to opens.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Kirvin3member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 03:05 PM
As to wigs - many girls now who do wear their hair natural don't curl it any more - it has their natural texture. that said, even as an adult, I wear a wig to perform and compete. i had a full wig, though it's not a "senior" wig - on me, especially as an adult I think it looked overdone. when I'm doing a show with kids though I like to blend in. I bought a bun wig at Oireachtas this year and love it. I'll probably stick with that for now, even for shows because some of the teens are wearing them now.
Trying to put my hair in curlers doesn't work for me - the curl falls right out. if I leave it straight it frizzes. If I sweat at all it gets wet and limp, ergo, I wear a wig! I've seen girls with and without much makeup, with and without wigs, with super-blinged out dresses and school dresses all on the podiums. Wear what makes YOU feel good!
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 2)
By bigTreblemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:38 PM
Edited by bigTreble (82949) on 2014-02-04 00:11:21 Edited for clarification
I haven't read the latest article and like many of you, I refuse to take the bait. Clearly, Irish Central realized the hits they were getting writing these "controversial" articles, and they are continuing to do so just to increase their ad revenue.




Make up does not make someone sexy. It does make them a whore, or a hooker, or sleazy, or sexually promiscuous. It does not make someone good or bad or adventurous or boring. Makeup does not define a person. Period.

Makeup is a tool. It can be used to emphasize, minimize, erase or create facial features. It can be used as a form of self expression.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is a cultural thing. It is what you make of it. What looks best to you, may not be what looks best to someone else. But that's the beauty of life; that we're given outlets and forms of expression like this where we can do as we please, without hurting one another.


re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By BunHeadAlymember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 04, 2014 01:20 AM
bigTreble wrote:

It does make them a whore, or a hooker, or sleazy, or sexually promiscuos.


Did you mean to say that it doesn't? :P

I'm strictly a spectator in ID and I see nothing wrong with the dresses, wigs, and make up. I'm actually a little jealous of the dresses to be honest. Why aren't these 'concerned' parents up in arms about leotard ballets? A lot more revealing than your dresses.

Stage make up is stage make up. I wear it and when my son competes I plan on putting some on him.

I refuse to click on the links; don't want to give them more traffic which is what they want. Why else write such a silly article?
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By bigTreblemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 04, 2014 02:41 AM
Gah. Even after editing my post I missed that somehow. I most definitely meant "doesn't" :D
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By BunHeadAlymember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 04, 2014 02:53 AM
^^^Haha I figured! XD

Forgot to add; what's wrong with competition? You learn so much from competing!

Do these same people want little league teams banned? So what if someone loses? Are their precious snowflakes so fragile that they can't be gracious losers?

Good things in life are never handed over, we must work hard for them making the reward that much better. That's life for you.

(It's late here, sorry if I'm not making any sense!)
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 2)
By sjerosemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:28 AM
Well, it appears the Tumblr ID community has come out in droves to defend the sport/art, which has prompted Irish Central to invite rebuttal article submissions from those within the ID community.

What really irritates me is that the blogger who shared the article on their Tumblr page is totally back-pedaling in their stance on the subject. First, they were talking about how 'gross and weird' the culture is, and now they posted a follow-up post talking about how much respect they have for Irish dancers. Hypocritical, much?

I've really appreciated the responses here on DDN regarding this topic. I know that there are many people who Irish dance who don't care for wigs and makeup and fancy blinged-out dresses either; thankfully, we can all respectfully share and express our opinions and still agree that when it comes down to it, it's the DANCE that ultimately matters. I am so glad that there are ID organizations that have strict restrictions on dress and presentation, for they allow all of us to reflect on the cultural and historical aspects of the dance form. I am glad there are ID organizations that push the envelope athletically and aesthetically speaking, to show us just how limitless Irish dance can be. Both ends of the spectrum are vital to the dance form - preservation of heritage AND viability in the future, and the influence of Irish dance worldwide as we have it today would not have survived without both.

Comment #10169535 deleted
Removed by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2014-02-04 21:06:31 eh, actually I'll leave this on Tumblr for now

re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By RinceorNosretep
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 02:55 AM
There has been another article written on IC, but this time it's from our side: www.irishcentral.com . . .

All in all a lovely article, addressing the main negative points from the first article and I presume the second (haven't read that one, not planning on it as I really am not in the mood to get riled up right now). She also said what I did in my first post on this thread (and Louise said again later), that these things people are bashing really aren't mandatory. If they don't like them, they don't have to do them.

My favorite part was the end:
So we will wear our tacky dresses with pride. We will hold our heads high with our "critters" placed atop them. And we will wear our war paint. Because we are Irish warrior princesses and you can't keep us down.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 1)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 04:30 AM
I am so glad that there are ID organizations that have strict restrictions on dress and presentation, for they allow all of us to reflect on the cultural and historical aspects of the dance form. I am glad there are ID organizations that push the envelope athletically and aesthetically speaking, to show us just how limitless Irish dance can be. Both ends of the spectrum are vital to the dance form - preservation of heritage AND viability in the future

Here I have to disagree. I don't think any organisation is "preserving the heritage" of Irish dancing to a "better" degree than An Coimisiun at all. I think this is a common misconception about having lots of different governing bodies. This is going to turn into a general point so not just relating to the above bit that I've quoted, nor directed solely at the poster.

We could poll it - what do you think is traditional in Irish dance? There'd be numerous different answers and I guarantee that something came before everyone's perception of traditional. Costuming - is a heavy velvet dress with celtic embroidery from the Book of Kells traditional? I bet thousands of people would say yes. But how can it be? Something came before that. Anyway, most organisations dress very similarly to Coimisiun dancers. Steps too - people decry today's steps as not traditional. Well, what's traditional? A Blackbird or other traditional set dance? No, something came before that too. A ceili, even? Not necessarily in the form they're danced today and not even necessarily in the form they're laid out in the book. What I'm getting at here is that traditional doesn't reaally exist. I tend to prefer to say classical when I'm referring to old moves like cross keys and rocks (which are still performed in every other step), or refer to a rough time period when I'm talking about a particular style of dress.

So any organisation that's seen as "preserving heritage" has really just pressed pause at their personal preferred moment in time, called that "traditional", and denied the heritage of evolution that has always been part of Irish dancing. Coimisiun did it when labelling the traditional sets as traditional, too, and when choosing which ceilis to include in ARF.

So much of dancing has been lost, and preserving 'traditional' set dance and the ceilis we have is unfortunately the best we can do. We can't go back in time to save anything older that these versions.

Unwittingly, what we've also done is lost a lot of the solo styles that were prevalent between the 1890s-1940s (the hotbed period for trad sets) and the present day. Traditional sets were actually the pinnacle of difficulty in their time. Imagine if we put down a John Lonergan Vanishing Lake or a Nadine Martin Blackthorn Stick for posterity and that was the traditional set of the 2010s for people to learn in the 2100s.


I will add some sort of (lengthy and pointless) disclaimer here that I absolutely ADORE traditional sets and ceilis. It's what started me on the TCRG process, as I felt I needed to know those things if I wanted to really call myself an Irish dancer. I felt my dance education and knowledge was sorely lacking by being very inexperienced in these sub-forms of the art form. I also adore older dresses from all sorts of time periods, adore the classical moves I mentioned (and more besides). I just accept that people have always pushed the boundaries of dancing, they've always gone for oneupmanship, they've always peacocked. I adore a lot of the modern stuff, some of it I'm just not sure about. Some moves I hated when they first came out (bicycles) but they've sort of grown on me. I still hope that we never go down the arabesque or developé type of route. I just really don't think our generation has any more right than any other generation to call time on innovation.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By sjerosemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 06:33 AM
I'm sorry, I should have been more clear. I never meant to imply that one governing body is better at maintaining heritage than another. I simply was pointing out that by having those particular organizations make that choice to hit 'pause' at their chosen era in Irish dance style, that they allow the rest of us in general to reflect on the evolution of Irish dance throughout history. I don't think one organization is better at representing Irish dance than the other - all have their pros and cons, and it's great that people have a choice in which style they wish to pursue.

I don't see why having some organizations press pause in the Irish dance evolution is necessarily a bad thing though. Yes, we have lost much, but different people are trying to preserve what they can by toeing a stylistic line around a certain time period, and I don't see how that can be a bad thing all around. Sean nos is making a comeback, for example; I'm thankful that didn't get lost in the evolution of Irish dance. Different dance organizations have different versions of the traditional sets; CRN for example requires its students to learn the entire St. Patrick's Day set for competition, not just the step and 1st set on the left foot. We need the 'different strokes for different folks' mindset because I firmly believe that we shouldn't stop innovating Irish dance, but we also need to preserve as much of the different historical styles of the dance as we can. CLRG is preserving their own facet of the traditional sets and ceilis, and other organizations hopefully are preserving different styles and sets. I feel like we're both in agreement here, just stating it in different ways.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By tinydancer1988
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 07:23 AM
I think that the most traditional thing about Irish dance is the music. Over everything that we've done, there's still people playing traditional tunes that have been handed down over generations. There's even people playing them on instruments that have been around for hundreds of years: fiddle, irish un-keyed flute, dulcimer, mandolin, and bodhran. I think that this traditional aspect is absolutely wonderful, and holds amazingly true to Irish tradition.

If costumes were traditional, we'd be going back to dress from the 1600's and before. No one wears "traditional" costumes. Sorry, to all the folks with the holier-than-thou who wear "traditional costumes", you'd be wearing something similar to the picture that I posted.

And unless you work at a Ren Faire, NO one is wearing anything like that.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By tinydancer1988
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 07:44 AM
Here's some more fun photos of traditional dress from the 16, 17, and 1800's.

Again- with the heavy layers and layers of skirting, the practical boots, the rough/heavy materials, the old fashioned under-garments... I don't see anyone dancing in clothing like this. And if you really want to "preserve the tradition of true Irish Dance", well, back when the dance style was really evolving from Farm Dances into actual "Irish Dance", this is the every-day clothes that the people wore when they went to barn dances, and the clothing that the more aristocratic children might have worn when the dance-master came through for lessons.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 07:48 AM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2014-02-05 07:58:34
That's the thing though - I don't think the different organisations really do offer different styles. It's generally much of a muchness in terms of style; only the standard seems to differ. Other organisations are often held up as less focused on costuming and having more traditional steps etc, but five minutes on YouTube reveals generally no stylistic difference. You mention CRN which is actually the only one I'd identify as trying to do anything different.

It's also not quite true that different organisations have different versions of the sets unless they've made their own up - a trad set's a trad set. Any version is acceptable in An Coimisiun, perhaps other organisations have decided which they prefer and only accept that version, but a Coimisiun dancer can perform any and it'll be accepted if performed in a 'traditional' (read: "of that time") style. The full versions (2nd step, 2nd set etc) of SPD, Blackbird and Job are available to all dancers on Olive Hurley's DVD and anyone can learn them - as is the White Blanket which isn't currently a competition set dance. John Cullinane's recent DVD also contains alternate versions of lots of different sets and "non-Coimisiun" ones like Humours.

Anyway...OT.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup - (karma: 4)
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 08:20 AM
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2014-02-05 08:54:20 Attempting to fix the formatting...
Brought back by popular demand. ;) Crossposted to tumblr.

An open letter to IrishCentral

I would have written into the editor and sent this—but I’d rather not give them the ad revenue for my content, so here it stays.

I have been keeping a close eye on the debate between IrishCentral and the scores of Irish dancers who felt personally insulted (and rightly so) by the series of articles IrishCentral published over the past week. There have been some phenomenal responses, but nothing quite captured what really bothered me about these pieces.

IrishCentral’s first volley into the Irish dancing culture war came with a poorly-sourced, lazily written article asserting that Irish dancing parents and adjudicator (yes, they spoke with just one) wanted not just makeup for under-10’s to go. No, they wanted to do away with wigs, makeup for under-16’s (really? Yes, please ban a 14 year old with a bad case of acne from going on stage with any kind of makeup and see what that does for her self-esteem) and generally just encourage girls to feel bad about themselves and their appearance no matter what decision they and their parents made. Never mind that the “parents” they quoted were badly written Facebook comments, which may or may not have been from parents, or anyone involved in Irish dancing at all.

There is nothing inherently virtuous about not wearing makeup or wearing natural hair to a feis. This is an especially silly time to bring up the anti-wig debate when a dancer has more choices than ever before when it comes to appearance in Irish dancing. Top placers wear natural hair all the time…but it absolutely takes them longer to fix their hair than they would if they were wearing a wig. Wigs were introduced as timesavers, period. I actually remember the soft spike days of three hours to curl and it smacks of martyrdom that people want to go back to that just so they can feel superior. Natural hair does not equal “unstyled”, which seems to be what people mean when they say to eschew the wig.

The article was posted on Tumblr by IrishCentral with the preface “Changes to rules of Irish Dance Feis aim to decrease the sexualization of young girls because, well, it’s gross and it’s weird. I mean come on, that child does not need make up or a fake tan for an IRISH DANCE COMPETITION. Would this child need make up or a fake tan to play tag with their best friends? No. Don’t force your kids to do this. It makes you look weird.” So much for journalism. Also, only a very specific person would complain about the “sexualization” of young girls in an art form where collarbones are always covered and sleeves are always to the wrist. The view that makeup is only to attract others for sexual purposes is so antiquated it’s laughable—as if only harlots wear rouge and lipstick is for fast women. And let’s be real—dancing with our arms glued to our sides while we beat out rhythms to an accordion is about the furthest thing one can get from “sexy”.

(May I also take this time to bring up that every time people say “Why tan!? Irish people aren’t tan!!1!!”, God kills a kitten. Just kidding—you just marginalize and alienate A) Irish people who aren’t white or B) Irish dancers who aren’t white. So yeah, only slightly worse. Especially with Ireland’s changing demographics, it smacks of racism, and a lot of kids in my dance school who actually ARE Irish and nonwhite would tend to disagree if you told them they didn’t “look Irish”. So if you say this—please stop. It’s rude, and ignorant to boot.)

So having seen this piece of “journalism” that wouldn’t pass muster at my college newspaper, I was reluctant to even look at the click-baiting follow-up “Why Irish dancing has lost its way and needs to change”. Now that I’ve actually read Cahir O’Doherty’s editorial, it’s almost more ridiculous than I imagined.

O’Doherty has stocked his editorial with so many Irish dancing strawmen, it’s amazing his vitriol hasn’t set them ablaze. Irish dancing is apparently a hyper-competitive world of Barbie zombies and we should all weep for the future. I’m not sure where Mr. O’Doherty is getting his facts—because as someone who’s been Irish dancing for almost fifteen years, I’ve never seen this strange place. Probably because it doesn’t exist.

“How many young girls are being told by their astonished parents that they can’t attend Irish dancing schools (which are by the way, a further expense) because the prices of these gaudy costumes are far too prohibitive for so many?” he asks. I’ll tell you: none—because these people live solely inside O’Doherty’s mind. He doesn’t cite a person, place or thing he talked to in order to cull this information for his opinion piece. It’s just him, diagnosing the Irish dancing world with “malaise”, which is hilarious considering his experience with this world is…what, exactly, considering he identifies himself as a “muggle” at the outset?

Perhaps the most offensive piece of “opinion” comes halfway through the article: “Boys have mostly escaped this transformational costume craze because, largely, we seem to trust boys to make their own way in the world. Girls are a different story. Girls need our help apparently. [NB: WHUT.] They need costumes and giant wigs and spray tans and extensive wardrobes. We need to hide them beneath multiple layers of pan stick and polyester if they’re to stand a chance on the stage on their own. It’s 2014 and this is the message we’re sending around the world?”

Oh, believe me, I’m outraged that it’s 2014 and we’re discussing this, but for different reasons. You’re right—boys’ appearances and boys’ bodies aren’t nearly as scrutinized as girls’. Instead of realizing this is a gross and sexist double standard, O’Doherty doubles down with…more scrutiny. Guess what, makeup isn’t worn to “hide” women’s bodies, it’s made to enhance them, and I’d guess that a majority of the time makeup is worn by women FOR THEMSELVES and not for other people. Not boys, not judges, but because makeup is fun and a personal choice. And if O’Doherty thinks the boys’ costumes aren’t as elaborate as the girls’, he’s never been to an Irish dance competition. Which, hey, may be true, because again, we still have NO BASIS for Mr. O’Doherty’s expertise in making these statements. Yes, it’s an “opinion” piece, but you know what they say about opinions—and if I’m reading an opinion, I expect it to be well-informed, fair and coming from some place of authority. Not just—to quote Mr. O’Doherty’s Twitter handle—some “randomirish”.

What O’Doherty—and many anti-wig/anti-makeup/anti-tan rabble rousers—fail to understand is that I have literally never met a person who is pro-glam that wants to REQUIRE this look for everyone. They simply want the choice to dress themselves as they please, not dictate how others should dress. The anti-glam brigade wants the exact opposite. They would rather dress themselves/their children differently, so everyone else should fall in line with their opinions. The option of simply…not participating in the things they’d rather not do, somehow isn’t an option. The prejudice of this is rooted in narcissism and a lack of imagination. It’s unfathomable that someone, somewhere else, could get the same information and come to a different conclusion. Instead of just being neutrally different, it has to be wrong.

“But perhaps, for the continued health of the dance and for the young people who live for it,” O’Doherty states rather condescendingly, “it’s time to focus on Irish dancing as an art rather than a sport.” Right. Because women’s sports, like the WNBA and Olympic volleyball, often employ stage makeup and hairstyling. And performing arts like ballet and jazz dancing never use elaborate, custom-made and (dare I say) expensive costuming.

“Real” Irish art is found in—tweed and Aran sweaters, apparently. “Real Irish design tradition, in other words, has nothing to do with these flamboyant, flashy Irish dancing fakes,” O’Doherty states. These are the best examples he can come up with? Has O’Doherty never heard of The Book of Kells? The Lindisfarne Gospels? The Tara Brooch? The Ardagh Chalice? The Irish have been making utilitarian objects into pieces of beauty for centuries.

Irish dancing has changed over the twenty years since Riverdance, whether outsiders like O’Doherty or even insiders who decry the lack of tradition like it or not. The Commission could have frozen the elements being performed in 1994 and banned any new movements; they didn’t. The Commission could have cracked down on costumes and declared only velvet and knotwork would do; they didn’t. We maintain traditional steps with ceili dances and trad sets. We celebrate our history with an entire degree in Irish dancing, music and culture at the University of Limerick. But we welcome innovation with competitions sponsored by the Marie Duffy Foundation that gave us new set tunes and awards for choreography. Irish dancing isn’t a tiny, insular world being kept in a snowglobe to keep it the same forever. Applying the same logic to another cultural element, I suppose O’Doherty believes that the Irish language never should have been updated with the words for cinema, telephone or e-mail because that would sully its traditions.

Speaking to my personal experience, dance became an obsession that paved its way into a degree in Irish studies. Had I never started in this “scary” world of funny wigs and dresses, I wouldn’t have taken three semesters of Irish language, met the Irish minister for education, written a dissertation on the history of Irish women’s political involvement, or been only the second graduate at my university to achieve this degree—and all without a drop of Irish blood in my veins. Irish dancing is a living, breathing culture, whose participants are heavily invested in its growth and survival. That is “where Ireland is in all of this”. I’m sad Mr. O’Doherty and the rest of IrishCentral isn’t able, or refuses, to see it.
re: Irish Central bashes dancers wearing wigs/makeup -
By tinydancer1988
On Wed Feb 05, 2014 09:13 AM
Edited by tinydancer1988 (262376) on 2014-02-05 10:21:10 typo
Louise: what I was thinking of when she was talking about different groups is the VERY different groups. Not just the different Competitive Irish Dance organizations (the ones that follow Au Com), but the other groups- the ceili groups that do the unsanctioned ceili dances, the Sean Nos dancers... the groups that carry on the tradition of dances that the Gaelic League did not include in their books when they started "modern" Irish dance. These groups definitely do some very different things than Competitive Irish Dancers do, and to some extent, they have not progressed as much. Where we have been evolving, they are still dancing many of the same dances in the same style, in plain clothing (which, traditionally, this is what people always wore- whatever they went to church in).

So yes, if you really want to go into traditional Irish dance, these are the groups that still do very Traditional styles.

But that's not what we're here for. We are here for the glitz and the glam and the amazing dance form that has evolved into Competitive Irish Dance. It really isn't traditional- and that's okay. It's not supposed to be. It has evolved and become an art form all its own.
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