Thursday, January 20, 2011

My not so Secret Obsession...Irish Dance

Ricky, Lisa, Carolyn, Amy, Mary, & Julia in Albany, NY at the Governor Donegan Feis

In 1996 me and my 4 daughters age 10, 9, 7, and 4 wandered into an Irish Dance class in Danbury Connecticut. A good friend had her 3 daughters enrolled and always talked about how much fun it was to dress up in traditional embroidered costumes, and travel on the weekend to competitions. Since we were also involved in tap dance, ballet, swim team, piano, and art classes I assumed this would be just another activity I drove my kids to...boy was I wrong.

With in a couple months we were attending classes twice a week, no longer tap dancing, cutting back on swim team, carpooling with other dancers, and I found myself preparing for my girls for their first Feis which required "Traditional Irish Dress". With 3 daughters in need of costumes and not able to afford the $600 price tag I made them myself.

Our dressmaker lived in northern Connecticut so I found myself making the trip north to learn the art of costuming. Before I knew it me and my house were covered in velvet lint and brightly covered threads. It got everywhere, but in a few months the dresses were made and put together. We were off to our first competition in "Traditional Irish Dress".

As word spread that I had made my daughters dresses the jobs started coming in altering $1200 costumes from Ireland and refitting hand me downs. When my friend with the 3 daughters asked me to make one of her girls a solo costume I said I would give it a try, it turned out pretty nice.

That was 15 years and hundreds of dresses ago. Our Irish Dance adventures have continued even after leaving the East coast and moving to the Mountains of the west. What started as saving money and trying to make a very expensive activity more affordable turned  into a necessity as I provided for my family, made costumes for 3 different dance schools, finally working for one of my daughters and providing dresses for her own Irish Dance school.

I am back to the sewing machine full time after returning to the life of a stay at home Mom. Although I never stopped making costumes while I was working outside the home I definitely cut way back and even fantasized about no longer dealing with fussy dancers and their Moms.

Obsession  is the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc. It's no secret that I love Irish Dance. Irish Dance has provided me with an outlet for my creativity and also been a stable activity during and unstable time of life. Irish Dance has saved me more than once. So here I am covered in brightly covered thread and velvet lint dealing with fussy dancers and their Mom's. The dresses are almost done and will be ready for the next competition when "Traditional Irish Dress" is required.

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