U.S. economy deals a harsh blow to Irish dancing

Irish dancers decked out in their fancy dresses at the United Irish Counties Feis

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.”

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