Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Dancer Is a Child

Satellite view of Ireland


From the first slip jig of the day to the last reel at the end, one fact was abundantly clear:  every competitor in this Irish Dance Feis (Fesh) was still a kid. 

Oh, each one gave their best to stand tall and be mature. 

Their toe points were perfect.  The arms were straight.  Knees straight on the kicks.  1 2 3 4 5 6 7, Hop 2 3, Hop 2 3, Back you go 4 5 6 7, Hop 2 3 and Hop 2 3. 

Wigs are now required as dancers move up the ranks—curly crazy wigs that bounce to accentuate the dance.  The dance schools each have their own school color and design.  It can be blue with red pleats, the Celtic designs in bold embroidery, white with orange pleats, or any of many variations.  The shoes are either soft shoe or hard shoe.  The white socks are held in place up to the calf with sock glue.

This is a long way from the surge of Irish dance of Riverdance fame.  


For an article that compares the past to the present click hereYou will see the before and after photos of Irish dancing!


Many words could be written about how something simple and pure morphs into a huge business in the world of dance with rules and regulations, expense (one “worn only twice” solo dress was for sale: $1,200) and dedication.  They won’t be written here.

source
source
After the dancers finish and the dance costumes carefully put away, the dancers are children.  The shoes are packed, and flip flops replace them.  Tee shirts and shorts don’t glitter, and the wigs are off with a pony tail in their place.   

They stand before the wall with the results numbers.  There is both joy and disappointment.  One little girl (in the beginners 1, under 8 yrs. competitions) searched for the scores for her dances.  There she was:  a 3rd place, another 3rd place, oh and a 2nd place.  Oh, Mommy, there I am!  I got a 1st place!! 

That little face lifted to her mother, those sparkling eyes, and a huge smile say that the dancers are still kids-- kids who want a hug and then go to get some ice cream, and maybe a movie.

13 comments:

  1. In the neighborhood that I grew up in New York, Irish dancing was done by many of the girls I knew. Oh, how I wanted to learn. I remember watching them carefully and copying the steps. I used to have shows with my siblings for my parents featuring my own made up Irish Jig.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damn they are good. Sad how it does get so out of control and they can't just be kids enjoying themselves until it's over.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's good exercise for them and teaches them how to be competitive and good sports. I can't say it encourages creativity since the movements leave no room for expression. Dance should be joyous and spontaneous.....I hope the adults don't ruin it for them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. robyn has done a little of this kind of dance--loved this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Unrelated to post, i will pray foryour son in JCNJ.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wish they could all win! (Yes, I'm that mom...unless my child is the one who won. Ha!). They are so talented so very young, and fun to watch!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really admire how much work and precision goes into this. The costumes are beautiful too. Julie

    ReplyDelete
  8. I also hope that those very skilled dancers can be children - first and foremost. I really hope that the only reason for continuing to dance is that they love it, and it is purely and simply, fun. And fun is something I think we all lose too soon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Susan, thanks for this information and for the links. So much work. So much precision. And like all contests, so much waiting anxiously for results. I so enjoyed this posting. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful post, Susan. I love Irish dancing! When I lived in Savannah, I would go to the Irish Festival every year and marvel at the dancers - young and old- who could skip, stomp, and twirl as if their legs from the knees down had a mind of their own. And I've seen Riverdance twice. Amazing! I always hope that the child dancers are able to just be children when the dancing is done. Competition is wonderful and I'm sure it teaches them discipline and a hard work ethic, but as you said, they are, after all, children.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love how you presented the contrast between the performer and the more mundane.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Susan,

    And it seems like only yesterday that Michael Flatley and his ensemble were all the rage with that form of Irish dancing.

    Just want to think that the children enjoy the dancing and in my eyes, they are all winners. Ice cream and movies awaits them :)

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!