(This is part 2 of a student post by Piper about her Irish Dance experiences. Click here to read part 1.)
Irish dance competitions are usually done at a feis (pronounced “fesh”). A feis is a dance competition and I dance in front of judges. One really important thing though is to never stop dancing when you are on the stage. Usually when I am waiting for my turn to dance, I listen to the music playing and say all the steps in my head. I am usually not nervous. I am more excited to get up and have my turn. I have competed at over 25 feisanna. My first one was when I was only 5 years old.
One of my early competitions
I moved from level to level pretty quickly. I have been awarded a lot of trophies, medals and ribbons. At a feis, you have to go to a special room after your dance to see if you place. If you do, your number will be listed. I am usually really anxious at this point to learn if I did really well. I always want a first or a second. When I see my number, I feel joyful. It makes me feel that my hard work pays off.
This weekend I competed at a feis and placed third!
On the podium!
Sometimes I haven’t placed or I didn’t place as high as I wanted, it only makes me try harder the next time. But I am still happy.
This year, in the month of November, I competed in my second Orieachtas.
On stage at an Oireachtas
An Orieachtas (or “the O”) is the next level above a feis. You have to have competed in feis, placed and been picked by your dance teachers to compete. The competition is very hard because dancers who were in the Nationals and Worlds also dance at the “O”. I was very nervous that year and did my best. After seeing all the girls dance, and watching the solo dancers, I was determined to get back to the “O” this year and compete in those rounds.
At times I felt frustrated, annoyed, excited, nervous, stressed out and happy when I practiced for this past year on my two solo dances. It was incredibly difficult to master the steps good enough to compete. But I was determined to place. At the “O” in the solo round, I had to dance a reel.
(Here is a video of me dancing the Reel: “The Tulla Bee Set” at school. I had to dance it in the cafeteria because there is a lot of movement and the classroom was too small.)
After the reel, I waited a few hours and danced a slow jig. Don’t let the slow jig name fool you, it is very fast. The judges combine those scores and only half of the dancers make it to the final round. If your number is called, that means you placed. That was my goal, to place.
As I waited in the ballroom to hear if my number was called, I felt very anxious. I had my friends with me from my dance school and they cheered me on and said I was good no matter what. Only 16 numbers were called, and mine was one of them! I shouted to my mom, “ I did it!” I had to get my solo dress on and dance one last dance called the St. Patrick’s Day. This dance was a dance that I have been dancing for over a year, and I felt confident.
We had to wait hours, almost until 9 pm for awards in the ballroom. When my competition was called, I climbed the steps to the stage and waited for my number. There were over 4,000 people watching. It was amazing. Every time the judge said a number and it wasn’t mine, I was thrilled. I kept jumping up and down.
Winning a crystal cup at the Orieachtas
I made it to the top 10; I placed 8th which means I am qualified to compete at the Nationals this July in California! I have never felt so happy. All of my friends who dance and my teachers hugged me and crowded around me. It was one of the best moments of my life.
I reached my goal. My hard work paid off and I was so happy.
What kind of dance do you like to do?
Is there something that you work hard at to get better and better?