As of 18 July 2013 this blog is run by toseeyouawake AND holmes-and-hornpipe.
So this is completely personal but
Yesterday I got 2nd place at the debate equivalent of the Oireachtas.
Doesn't it annoy you that people say that Americans have "ruined Ireland's culture" by making dancers wear dresses and wigs when people all around the world are doing THE EXACT SAME THING? Also, if the adjudicators are the ones judging the dancers on how they look, why is it the dancer who is getting the bad rap? Sorry this whole thing just gets me really irritated. I hate how people only see the dress and wig side and don't look at the hard work/sport side because it isn't publicized.
I have a lot to say on this topic and I’ve been holding out until I could sit down and sort out my thoughts properly.
First, to address your comment, I do think it’s ridiculous that people accuse Americans of propagating the beauty pageant look when it’s worn by dancers all over to world. However, I haven’t necessarily heard too many people make claims like that one recently so it’s not as much of a concern for me. But I do think that, similarly to how the dancing style of Americans is often (but not always) more exaggerated than European dancers, some American dancers do have much more exaggerated makeup and hair looks. The Academy, for example, is known for their really big wigs and poofs, and some Midwest dancers are becoming known for wearing their hair in one huge poof with either a natural bun at the back or long curls. BUT, most of these looks originated in Europe with Gavin and The Academy (when they were in England). So really, everyone is to blame for dancers wearing big makeup and hair, because it has been done and is being done and will continue to be done everywhere.
As with anything and everything, evolution has occurred within our sport. The means for more impressive dresses became more readily available (with more dress makers and new designs and techniques), so we capitalized on that. People could have stopped wearing Gavins years ago - but they didn’t. We encouraged the evolution of dresses and hair/makeup by speculating online and with our friends and peers what the “Next Big Thing” would be at Worlds or what new skirt Celtic Star was going to create or what new hair Gavin’s dancer were going to wear.
And we continue to have a choice in who designs our dresses and how we wear our hair because there are no rules that say that you MUST have a Gavin or your MUST wear a wig or you MUST wear fake lashes and bronzer and lipstick. If you want to wear a black leotard and tights, you can. If you want to spend $3000 on a dress, no one is stopping you. Where we find the situation problematic is when we begin to realize that judges are only human, and, yes, their eyes are first going to be attracted to the dancer whose look satisfies their idea of what is aesthetically pleasing or most eye catching. In order to use this to our advantage, we have developed a look that is intended to be most eye catching. Not tacky, not cringeworthy, but eye catching (of course there are exceptions, but if we’re going to make generalizations as so many have on this topic, we should acknowledge that the majority of dresses are not tacky and cringeworthy and most are really beautiful). And that’s not a bad thing - we’re not making ourselves (or children) look like “streetwalkers” as some parents have so kindly christened us. We wear makeup just as jazz dancers do. We wear wigs just as actors and actresses do. We wear costumes that are expressions of our personalities and dancing styles just as ice skaters do. I think it is just the sudden evolution that has people so up in arms - Irish dancing went from very traditional to very modern with traditional influences in the space of about twenty years. To some people, that’s an atrocity. To the majority of people who are currently competitive dancers, it’s a really awesome thing in which they loved to be involved.
Although I will admit that perhaps we could do with some toning down, I would only concede that for the sake of expense. Yes, dancing is expensive and I would like for more people to be able to afford such lavish dresses. But, and forgive the cliches, the world isn’t perfect and you can’t have everything you want. If you don’t want to wear a wig, be my guest. You probably will be much less cranky than I am at the end of the day and I applaud you for willing to stray from the status quo. But we compete within a sport that is based on the performance of the dancer as a whole - not only on their technique. The best dancers on Earth are not world champions simply because they have the best turn out and posture and extension - they perform for the audience and demand to be watched. That is a vital part of competitive Irish dancing whether anyone likes it or not, and because of if, we dress like we do. Everyone has the choice to comply with the standards or not, but I will continue to do so because it comes with the sport. And to put it simply: I kind of love it.