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The Cost Of Success In The Irish Dance World

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Cara Sutherland is an Open Champion dancer from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She is currently studying Exercise Science and is involved with the Performing Arts at John Carroll University.

The Irish dance community is excited as London, the host of the 2012 summer Olympics, will welcome the 44th World Irish Dance Championships in a few weeks.

The World Irish Dance Championships, Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, are the Olympics of Irish dancing—and a gold medal or globe is the most prestigious award an Irish dancer can win.

In the conclusion of the Sochi Winter Olympics a few weeks ago, many news outlets published articles about the true cost of being an Olympian.

Olympians are also amateurs who are not paid to compete. These elite athletes spend thousands of dollars on equipment, training, and travel, with aspirations to place high enough to catch the eye of sponsors. Sounds familiar? World-class Irish dancers also compete as amateurs, primarily sponsored by their dance schools and families.

While there is no prize money, many dancers who hold World titles will go on to become professional dancers, choreographers, directors, producers, musicians, teachers, and judges.

However, the cost for a dancer to even compete at Worlds is quite a substantial investment!

For starters, an Irish dancer at Worlds is wearing around $2,500 in costuming: a designer dress, new shoes, wig, crown, buckles, and other accessories (though less expensive for men). These dancers have been training for years and practice every day of the week. Families of dancers will spend thousands of dollars on travel, hotels, and entry fees to other feisanna and majors over the course of a dance career.

Families make considerable sacrifices with time and money to support their hardworking dancers.

Athletes speculate that one will have to spend about $100,000, depending on the sport, to get to the Olympics. Unfortunately, the mother of Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglass filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and Ryan Lochte’s parents’ home was foreclosed.

While these costs are significantly more than the estimated costs of competing in the World Irish Dance Championships, it is important for us to thank those who support our journey with their time and money!

Olympic athletes and their parents are in agreement that you cannot truly put a price tag on the honor of winning.

“It has been worth every penny and all the time invested,” said an Olympic prospect’s mother. “The memories and experiences are priceless. To help your children attain their goals is truly a blessing.”


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