U.S. economy deals a harsh blow to Irish dancing
Irish stepdancing is suffering thanks to the economic downturn
She points out, “It’s not the costume that makes the dancer, it’s the dancer.”
Yet some kids, and their parents, still think the dress helps them win. Kelly-Oster says parents will always want their kids to have that “edge.”
Many teachers long for the cheaper, simpler dresses of yore. “I’d love to see it go back to much more simple costumes, and be much more affordable,” says Ryan-Kilcoyne. “You wouldn’t pay that amount for a wedding dress.”
Like Kelly-Oster, she doubts if there’ll be a return to simpler styles.
But now is a good time for parents to draw back from the extremes. Kelly-Oster advises parents to let down dresses, and says children at a school could share shoes to save money.
Other teachers point out that only the top dancers, the ones who’ll attend the worlds, really need those expensive costumes.
“You don’t have to compete at every feis, you don’t even have to compete at all,” Kelly-Oster adds. “You don’t have to spend $2,000 on a costume. Let the children continue dancing, because they’ve made a group of friends.”
Irish stepdance teachers say they’re willing to work with parents who are in difficulties, and they are adamant they’d never turn a child away from class. Some are working out payment plans with parents, or agreeing to settle the bill later.
But what will happen to the teachers? When Kevin Broesler spoke to the Detroit teacher, the other man was wondering if he should give classes for free to keep students involved.
Broesler says, “We were talking about how he could keep his business alive.”