Picture of a Tara Brooch which is commonly worn on Irish Dancing Costume
Irish Dancing Costume - Girls
Traditionally the Irish Dancing Costume is a heavy dress , A-Line in style. Kilts are never worn by girls, they are reserved for the boys! The costume is usually brightly colored and embroidered with Celtic patterns. Seqins are a popular addition and dancers also wear a cape tied at their shoulder with a brooch.
Irish Dancing Costume - Boys
There are two types of costume traditionally worn by boys who compete in Irish dancing competitions. Kilts or long black trousers. Kilts are the traditional Celtic male garment but nowadays the dancers prefer to wear long black trousers when competing.
Irish Dancing Costume - Patterns
Solo Irish step dancers performing in dancing competitions typically wear a costume like the one shown below. The image below is just an example of the type of costume worn. The Irish Dancing costume comes in a huge range of colors and fabrics from silk to velvet. Specialist designers produce costumes to order, the cost of a dancing costume can equal that spent by the typical bride on her wedding dress, if not more! A large market exists for second hand dancing dresses as often a costume is only worn for a handful of times before their owner outgrows it. The patterns of each costume is unique. Some dancing schools will have a standard costume worn by performers but once solo dancers reach competition level each costume will be specifically designed according to the individual dancers requirements. Some dancers will use a combination of Celtic Patterns on their outfit, other take inspiration from the patterns of the Tara Brooch traditionally used to secure the cape which is worn at the back of the dress. Other dancers choose their favorite flowers or simply make up their own patterns for use on their dancing dresses.
Picture of an Irish Dancing Costume Costume
Irish Dancing Costume - Why do dancers wear wigs?
Irish dancers have to keep their body rigid whilst dancing, this does not apply to their hair! The bounce of curls can emphasise the height of the jumps and allow the dancer to be more expressive. Traditionally girls hair was kept long and those with straight hair always had their hair styled into ringlet curls in advance of a dancing competition. This was often the worst part for the girls, having to sleep with uncomfortable 'rollers', 'curler's' or 'rags' in their hair overnight. Nowadays wigs are commonplace and worn by Irish dancers performing at competitions all over the world. Wigs are a very popular choice for those with short or naturally straight hair and preferred in place of the uncomfortable curlers. The dancing wigs are very realistic and can be made to suit the color of the dancers individual hair color.
Traditional Image of Dancers on St Patricks Day
Benefits of Irish Dancing
Irish dancing is not just about footwork and a beautiful dancing costume! Although the dancers move their feet at a breathtaking rate and their costumes are amazing, timing and rhythm is also extremely important. Other benefits of Irish dancing are:
Increased Physical Fitness
Fantastic and fun exercise
Increased concentration levels
Helps form a competitive spirit
Builds self esteem
Helps to improve stage presence
Promotes Irish Culture
Friendship amongst dancers attending lessons