Young dancer has Irish style Costume: Katie Fox, a Loch Raven teen, dances in traditional dress and shoes, with Shirley Temple ringlets in her hair

Candid Closet


September 24, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Irish dancer Katie Fox understands a performer must pay as much attention to her dress as her steps.

Fox, a Loch Raven High School sophomore and honors student from Towson, has learned to abide by the judge's criteria, which can be as unforgiving as an Olympic skating judge's. Luckily, in the rest of her life this ardent athlete, actress and fiddle player can throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and feel right at home.

Since she was 7, Katie Fox has been a student of the Broesler School of Irish Dance. Now, at 15, she is a veteran of two international dance competitions and has shared the stage with such Irish musicians as the Chieftains.

Last weekend, she and others danced at the 1998 Baltimore Irish Festival.

What do female Irish dancers wear?

When you start out, you get a school costume made of gabardine that all dancers in the school wear. A more advanced dancer gets to choose the colors of the outfit, and a design combination from the Book of Kells. The dress I just received from Ireland, my dance teacher designed for me. I have the Dublin castle, acorns and oak leaves on my dress.

What is the typical length of a dance dress?

The correct length is two inches above the knee. Mine's close enough. It's like a cheerleading costume, with long sleeves and a skirt with a full circle and a front pleat.

Are there American manufacturers of Irish dance costumes?

There are several companies that make them, but some of them have actually fallen apart. In terms of quality, it's like Bloomies opposed to Kmart.

What kind of shoes do you wear?

There are soft shoes for dancing, which are ballet-type shoes called ghillies. And then there are shoes for hard-shoe dancing, which are like jazz shoes with fiberglass tips and heels.

Do you wear socks?

Yes, although because of the "Riverdance" look, people are wearing tights. When I'm a senior dancer at 17, I can wear tights.

How do you do your hair for competition?

We wear our hair in tight, tight Shirley Temple ringlets, that I set with pink curlers. My mom flips my hair with water, but some people use Dippity-Do.

How are the judges tough on appearance?

If you walk out on stage and you're a younger dancer, they take points out right away if you're wearing a bun instead of ringlets. If your shoes come untied, or your socks fall down, they take off points.

What do you wear to school?

Usually jeans and a sweat shirt.

Are you into big jeans?

Jnco jeans are very wide and comfortable. I also love bell bottoms. I'm into the whole '60s, '70s retro thing.

Do you do the thrift shop circuit?

I go to the consignment shops and antique stores in Fells Point with my mother a lot.

Any great finds?

We found a pair of old shoe buckles that I wear on my dance shoes. They're silver filigree rectangles.

Is that good for the judges?

It's something they can recognize me with.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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