Dancers in the Performing Group of Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers were excited, even giddy, about the arrival of completed school dresses. As many Irish dancers will tell you, it’s all about the dress. At Rinceoiri it’s less about the dress and more about the dancing and the friendships. But a new dress doesn’t hurt.
Dresses for the performers have changed and evolved over the past 15 years at Rinceoiri Don Spraoi. From turtlenecks and green skirts, to velvet and lace frocks, to the embroidered dress we see today. The latest incarnation has remained the traditional forest green associated with the group, but will have the shape and structure of what people most associate with traditional Irish dance.
When deciding on a new dress, the board of directors for the group wanted something that would be a little more on the traditional side. Because Ireland doesn’t have an official national costume, their work was cut out for them.
“We wanted to go with something that was recognizable as an Irish dance dress, but not like the latest styles competitors are going with now,” said Stephanie Russell, longtime dancer. “Something closer to what people think is traditional.”
Charlotte Fitzgerald agrees. “The newer styles don’t remind me of home at all, ” the Dublin native winced. “I want to represent my home, where I grew up dancing as a child.” She points out some of the flashy glitter-laced numbers, with ruffles like ballet tutus and neon colors. “Those dresses just don’t remind me of home.”
The group hired Debonair Dancewear
to create their new look. Debonair has been in business locally since 1983 and pride themselves “on being able to deliver exactly what you… envision as the perfect performance attire.” Finding a professional organization was important to the group as a whole because it meant less time worrying about dresses and more time doing what they loved best, dancing.
“In the past, dancers or parents were creating the costuming and there just wasn’t a uniformity.” Brooke Curnow said. “It’s great to have licensed professionals to work with. The pressure on dancers and parents is completely alleviated by outsourcing the work.”
The new dress will not only be a more traditional shape, but will include embroidery for the first time. Something that couldn’t have been done in the past due to cost and lack of experience. The costuming had included applique work as a cheaper alternative.
Teacher Ben Curnow stated, “Celtic knotwork was the norm decades ago. You’d have a really heavy and colorful dress that had a lot of embroidered knotwork. Now you don’t see it that much. We wanted to go back to that style because it looks great on stage. It looks more Irish.”
Embroidery designs on dance dresses were originally of traditional Irish origin, many coming from the Book of Kells and Irish stone crosses. The knotwork in the pattern on Rinceoiri’s new dress is said to symbolize the continuity of the friendships made in the group.
The creation of new dresses marks the 15th anniversary of Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers in Utah.
Performers will dance in their new dresses for the first time at the Annual Shamrock Gala for Youth Impact in Ogden. They will unveil them publicly at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Siamsa at the Gateway in Salt Lake City, on Saturday, March 17, 2012.
St. Patrick’s Day.
“I can’t wait,” smiles Laura G. holding her dress. “It’s gonna be awesome!”
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