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A bit of background for new and early dancers in the UK, and Irish dancing is for both Boys & Girls.
There are two main Irish dancing bodies, An Coimisiun often called 'Commission' and An Comhdhail often called 'Cogol'.
An Coimisiun has a wider reach with many more schools, events and competitions overseas, especially in the USA, An Comhdhail tends to be more focussed on the Celtic Nations and England.
An Comhdhail often performs dance steps on traditional dances 'by the book', both organisations restrict younger dancers going 'en pointe' to minimise any damage to the foot, however make-up restrictions at an early age apply to An Comhdhail but definitely not to An Coimisiun.
- An Coimisiun Rule 4.5.1 states: "Make-up will not be permitted for any dancer in the first two grades (Bungrád and Tusgrád or equivalent) up to and including the under 12 age group worldwide.
I believe a recent ruling has banned make-up for under 10s so well done there - let children be children I say!
When you are looking at schools, you need to be aware that it is rare that a teacher will let a new or young dancer have a trial, and if you are not sure about joining the school a) make sure you are upfront with the teacher b) do not pay for a class and c) make it very clear you have not yet joined their school. An Coimisiun has an unfortunate history of tactics in this area so BEWARE.
- An Coimisiun Rule 3.1.9 states: "Where a Bun grad/Beginner dancer is one month or less in a class the Rule 3.1.4 (6 months) [6 month restyling period] does not apply." I CAN PERSONALLY ATTEST THAT THE GLASGOW BRANCH DID NOT STICK TO THIS RULE, THIS IS ABOUT DANCE SCHOOLS 'CLAIMING' DANCERS WHO JUST WANTED TO SEE WHAT A SCHOOL WAS LIKE.
Transferring schools or organisations can carry a ban of 6 months or more, however in An Coimisiun it is 6 months from the 1st January the following year!
- An Coimisiun Rule states: "...The six month period will be calculated from the date on which notification of the pupil joining the new class is received in writing by the Regional Council or other appropriate authority," not from the 1st of January as stated above.
Exceptions to this restyling period may be granted due to the death or retirement of former teacher (Rule 3.1.5), significant change of place of normal residence of the pupil or permanent closure of a dancing school normally attended by the pupil and where that school does not have another class within a reasonable distance of the pupil’s home (Rule 3.1.6), or other situations where extreme circumstances may indicate that such an exemption should be granted (Rule 3.1.7).
There are other organisations such as WIDA (WorldIrish Dance Association), CAID (Celtic Association of Irish Dance) CRN, CRDM, IDTA etc who sometimes do not agree with the approach of the 'big 2' and have started up their own organisations.
Usually this is done by parents & teachers who feel they have been treated unfairly, and it is fair that some of the approaches of the smaller organisations are much fairer, for instance WIDA when it holds an 'Open' competition means 'Open' as all can come. An Coimisiun & An Comhdhail adopt the 'oil & water' approach to each other and these smaller organisations either by ignoring their existance or banning their dancers from competing.
An Coimisiun has authorized open platform feiseanna in Europe, Russia Asia and the Nordic Region for two years from September 2012. This ruling may be found at http://www.europeirishdancing.com/open-status/ and is quoted in its entirety below:
“ 'For the first time in history CLRG is opening its doors to invite dancers from all dance groups and schools, regardless of organizations, to join us in celebrating Irish dance together at our open feisanna in Mainland Europe and Russia. We look forward to building new friendships with fellow Irish dancers and look forward to seeing you at our feisanna'
'Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.'
Open platform Status for all Feiseanna in Europe, Russia, Asia and Nordic Region.
When a feis has this ruling in their syllabus it is has Open Status please contact each individual feis organisor to enter that particular feis.
This Feis is open to persons who are registered as teachers (in any category) with An Coimisuin and to registered Ceili Clubs. It is also open to persons who are not yet affiliated to An Coimisuin. As a special concession An Coimisuin will give special accreditation to such persons for the duration of the Feis. Persons seeking such accreditation must apply directly to the feis organisers.
This new ruling is for a period of two years for all feiseanna in Europe, Russia, Asia and the Nordic Region starting from September 2012.
Rules of Open platform Status:
1. Open platform Status can be used at any feiseanna that are held in Europe, Russia, Nordic Region and Asia for a period of two years starting September 2012 – September 2014.
2. The current rule that An Coimisuin dancers can only take part in An Coimisuin feiseanna still applies.
3. It is not compulsory that a feis in any of these regions has to have Open platform Status, it is the choice of the feis organiser.
4. It is suggested at the time of registration for your feis you insert these rules in your syllabi."
WIDA has links in the USA, Europe and Asia and is coming on strong with a couple of good championship events every year in the European & World Championships.
Fees vary across the organisations but a basic rule of thumb is that An Coimisiun & An Comhdhail are more expensive for lessons, but charge less for competitions than other organisations whilst the others charge a little less for teaching but more for competitions.
If you think your child is going to become the next Jean Butler, Colin Dunne, Michael Flatley (Riverdance) then it is likely you want to look at one of the big 2 organisations.
CAID & WIDA are pretty upfront with their rules & regulations, An Coimisiun has in the past been very closed but information is available here, An Comhdhail you have as much clue as us, so your teacher will tell you :)
IRISH DANCING ORGANISATIONS
Comhdhail Website - Average site, lacks rules, regs, Feis postings etc
WIDA website - Good site, often updated & informative
CAID Website (more often down than up, very light on info)
CRN - An interesting small global organisation
NAIDF - North American Irish Dance Federation linked to WIDA
IDTNA - Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America linked to CLRG
NAFC - North American Feis Commission
NWRC - North West Regional Council - UK org affiliated to Coimisiun?
NWRC - Rules - Probably the CLRG An Coimisiun rules
CMFA - Cead Mile Failte Association - Herts, Kent, Essex, Sussex & WIltshire
RTME - Mainland Europe Affiliate for An Coimisiun
AIDA - Australian Irish Dancing Association Inc - (An Coimisiun)
FDTA - Festival Dance Teachers Association - 43 schools
CRDM - Cumann Rince Dea Mheasa
INFC - Irish National Folk Company - has some affiliations and does a lot of work, not quite sure what it is though.