Ariel Bennett, ADCRG * Denver, Colorado * 720-747-9377
Don't panic! Despite what you may have heard, it doesn't have to be expensive to start Irish dancing. With Heritage, you don't need to buy shoes or a costume right away. Even when you do, you can get a pair of used shoes for $20 or less and a used costume for around $50.
Outfitting dancers can get expensive (especially if you have more than one dancer in your family), so we have inexpensive and used options for dancers just getting started. We also have programs for exchanging used shoes and costumes, so if you outgrow your shoes/costume or want to upgrade, you can trade in the old versions for new ones. Then, as you go up in level, you might like to invest in a fancier costume. However, there is no requirement for upgrading to a fancier costume at a particular level, so which costume you have is always your choice.
Below, we've outlined some information on the costumes and shoes. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
At Heritage, you don't have to have the Irish soft shoes (called gillies) to start. In fact, we recommend that you try the class out first to make sure you like it before investing in shoes. For your first classes, you can dance in tennis shoes, socks, or jazz or ballet shoes (if you have them).
Once you've decided you'd like to purchase the shoes, we can help you buy them. We have a store, called Irish Butterfly, attached to our Denver studio. If you attend the Friendship Center in Denver, you can stop by and try shoes on there. If you attend one of our other three locations, let us know that you are interested in shoes, and we can bring the shoes with us to class.
Girls wear gillies, which cost $10-$20 used depending on condition and start at $32 new. Boys wear jazz shoes, which cost $10-$20 used and start at around $25 new. Gillies and jazz shoes have soft soles and are designed not to make sound. Both boys and girls wear the soft shoes at Heritage until they reach the Beginner 2 class level, when they get to learn the hard shoe dances as well. Hard shoes are more like tap shoes, designed to make loud sounds. They cost more because more materials go into them, but for most students it will be about a year before you have to deal with this expense. Used hard shoes cost $45-$65 depending on condition.
To learn more about shoes, check out Irish Butterfly's website, www.irishbutterfly.com.
When Irish dancers first start out, they wear costumes in their school colors, like uniforms. Each school has different colors. Heritage's colors are green, white, and gold. Girls wear skirts and blouses; boys wear slacks and shirts. Heritage has simple costumes for beginner dancers so you can try out performance or competition without making a big investment. To order a costume of any kind, talk to your teacher, and we will measure you for whichever costume you prefer.
For all of these costumes, we have a used costume trade-in program. When you outgrow your costume or decide you'd like to upgrade to the next level, you turn your costume in to us and get credit towards your next costume.
Here are descriptions of the different levels of costume:
The most basic Heritage costume is a white blouse and green skirt. You can order these at www.frenchtoast.com. Just look for a long-sleeved white Oxford and the green pleated skirt in your size. They cost about $10 each. You will also need poodle socks and ($7) and flashpants ($12) from Irish Butterfly.
Boys would wear a long-sleeved white shirt, black slacks, and black socks, all of which you can find at a department store.
The dancer on the left is wearing a slightly more elaborate team costume, with a lined green skirt (with gold belt attached), flashpants, a green top, and a traditional cape on the back. When performing, she would also wear poodle socks. The poodle socks are $7, the flashpants $12, the skirt $60, the top $50 depending on whether it is used or new, and the cape $40. The socks and flashpants are machine washable; the other elements should be drycleaned or cleaned at home using Dryel.
Boys wanting to upgrade their costume could wear a dark green shirt, or wear a gold or dark green tie.
Embroidered team costume: these three dancers are wearing our embroidered team dress, flashpants, poodle socks, a white shirt, and a traditional cape on the back. Most dancers do not opt to buy this costume until they have been dancing with Heritage several years. The dress is $500 new, and that price includes the white shirt. The flashpants are $12, the socks $7, and the cape $40. The white shirt, flashpants, and socks are machine washable. The cape and dress are dryclean only, and should be cleaned only when necessary rather than after every use.
Solo costumes: these dancers are all wearing solo costumes. With a solo costume, dancers get to pick their own colors and design. Dancers earn the right to wear a solo costume rather than a team costume once they reach a certain level. It usually takes 3-7 years to reach this level with Heritage, so it is not an investment you would make for several years. The dresses range from a few hundred dollars for an older used costume to over a couple thousand dollars for a new top-of-the-line dress.
Boys can wear a shirt and tie or a shirt and vest along with black slacks. A plain shirt and tie can cost just a few dollars; a custom-made set from fancy fabrics can cost several hundred.
Most girls competing in Irish dancing now wear hairpieces; they also tend to buy other equipment like sock glue, buckles, and earrings. You won't need these items right away, even if you decide to do competitions or performances. You can compete or perform with nothing but the Heritage costume and a pair of shoes.
If you decide down the line that you would like to look at a hairpiece or other items, you can find out more about them at www.irishbutterfly.com.