U.S. economy deals a harsh blow to Irish dancing
Irish stepdancing is suffering thanks to the economic downturn
Nor has Sean Culkin, director of the Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance and regional director of the Southern Dance Teachers Association (IDTANA), had any problems. He had 85 beginners this year, and he puts it down to location.
His schools are doing fine, he says, but he recently had a conversation with a teacher from Detroit. The demise of the automotive industry has had a knock-on effect on dancing, and stepdance in Detroit is going through a very tough time.
“The teacher said enrolment was down 60 percent,” Broesler says. “The Detroit area has been decimated.”
The thing with Irish dancing is that it’s not just the classes that cost money, as every parent and dancer knows. If you want a top dress, you’ll shell out $3,000. Shoes and wigs all add up too, and that’s before you’ve paid feis entry fees and sorted out transport to competitions.
“I don’t think there’s any other sport where you pay more for the dress than for the class tuition,” Ryan-Kilcoyne says.
Dresses in particular have become increasingly elaborate in recent years, even though the young girls who wear them are bound to outgrow them quickly. Some schools, like the Culkin School, have “dress exchange” sections on their websites, and other sites exist where used dresses can be bought and sold (Dance Again Irish Dance Dresses and the Irish Dancing Exchange are two examples).
But the fact remains that fashions change. This year diamante and bubble skirts are in, but who knows what will be hot in 2010? The parent who spent that $3,000 might hope to get half the value back at the year’s end.
The astronomically-priced outfits are a cause of concern in the dance community. “The commission (An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha) is trying to come up with a solution and make it known that they’ve recognized the problem,” says Kelly-Oster, explaining that the coimisiún is trying to pass the message on to teachers and parents.