Friday, December 1, 2006

Oireachtas Bound

For those of you who missed this, the Southern Region Oireachtas is coming into town THIS WEEKEND.   There's a countdown on the websites, the unofficial SRO website is   Unofficial 2006 SRO Resource Guide; and the "official" one is:  The 2006 Southern Region Oireachtas  Less than 18 hours from now.   Approximately the top 10% of dancers will qualify to compete in Nationals and World's.   (A top dancer can be sent, anyway, to North America i.e. Nationals competition, anyway, if the TCRG i.e., officially recognized / sanctioned Irish Dance teacher recommends him/her.)   This isn't "just" a feis (Irish stepdance competition for beginners through open champions IIRC), this is big-time.  

As a First-Time "O" Mom, I'm learning a lot of things those outside of the Irish Dance (ID) community might consider trivia.  M is learning a lot, too, with her focus more on her particular figures dances/competitions, and when her friends will dance in solos.  (Ha, I have to laugh, reading back at my entries from June 3 (the green portion) where I couldn't spell Oireachtas and sometimes still can't and trying to figure out just what it is/was, and my entry September 28 after M had been in a preliminary class and selected to be on two teams, with rehearsals started.   It's been a lot of time and dedication -- I'm very proud of M for sticking with this, never once complaining about it even, eager and willing.)

Only those chosen by Ma, the TCRG / dance teacher for M's school, can enter to begin with.   There is a 6-month penalty / waiting period for competiting if a dancer switches ID schools, so some in M's school stayed with this one in order to be in the Oireachtas.   Apparently when a studio closes and it'd be x amount of distance or trouble or something to attend the other one, the penalty can be waived.   We didn' t know this, yet wished to stay with this school, for a variety of reasons, and are giving the new, further studio a try for a year.   A couple dancers from M's former, local, studio, switched but were then denied a waiver so stayed with this school (M's friend, V is one of them, and that's not a happy thing for her to be denied a waiver, but we and others love V and willdefinitely go watch her!).  

It's been fun for M, and for me as a "first-time O Mom" to feel part of The Team.    Even the alternate for one of the figures teams is a full Team member and important.  There is a real camaraderie (sp) and support there amongst the dancers and the parents and the two main teachers (another teacher is the main one for the figures).   No one has acted like a prima donna.   The best of the male dancers was also from M's former local studio, and her former performing troupe for 2 years.  Last year, after his mom and I witnessed some other parents fussing, now former members of the school, this high level dancer's mom said to me, "It's just dance."   Her son loves dancing, for the joy of it, I can see that in his face sometimes, and performing, and choreographing, and her mother really supports this of him.  M loves dancing and all of that, too.   I'm so glad she's in a group that, for the most part, really is just wanting to enjoy it and do this for the love of the sport of dancing, including parents supporting that feeling.

Today's "must do" O list include tracking down new bobby pins, somehow not available in the grocery store near me (we did check), and safety pins.   Mstill has some pins for her wig, we had a TON of them, but they get used and bent and lost.   I have some safety pins, for the capes for her school dance dress and my dance performance outfit, but I'd like a box of them just to be sure.  

And cash.   Apparently there's a $10. entry fee for adult visitors (not dancers who've paid via entry fees), and $7./day "discounted" parking, but I may take the metro in/out so needing a roundtrip pass I suppose..... and food.  Oh, we'll bring food, but, to get M to eat ANYTHING during a feis is good, and this isn't a feis and once her morning dance is done, she'll be fine.  But.  I've learned to keep items on hand she may consume, healthy plus one or two "junk" just to get her to eat something while she's hyped and nervous and not feeling hungry but needs the energy. 

And credit cards for VENDORS, a ton of them there, including for socks and bobby pins and sock glue and bloomers and wings and used solo dresses and cd's and floors and charms and clothing and anything one could possibly think of needing or wanting.:)

Polishing her shoesand adding new duct tape, oh, wait, M's not dancing hardshoe this weekend, just in her ghillies, i.e., soft shoes that work eh, somewhat like ballet slippers.

There was dress rehearsal earlier this week.   They did this a couple months ago also.  M's cape had too wide of an edge and something else that I didn't know how to "fix," or take it to a dry cleaner's to do it, and yikes, I didn't like the idea of messing with it in those ways, or the cost idea.   It seemed minor.   We DID remove the one brooch that M had bought special, but did clash and showed a horse theme and did not look quite right for ID'g.   Nicely, this time, they just felt her cape was too short comparatively, and another mom had an extra.  Mind, these are all (professionally) hand-made and embroidered, not cheap, and she had an extra to lend?   Wow.   It was long enough, and will do real fine:)  I can sew it on or whatever I need to do to have it look right on M's school dress.  (M's school dress somehow STILL fits her decently, 3 years after it's been made/bought and likely 7+ inches of new height.)    Except last night, enroute to performing troupe rehearsal, is when  in this busy week that I remembered the capes.   Oh, the original cape won't take too much time to undo the threads sewing it on, but sewing on the new cape?   I may know where my needle is.  I doubt I have that color thread.   Instead, I'm bringing extra safety pins:)   lol

Dress rehearsal meant trying on tiaras to be sure arms and wigs and tiaras work well together while doing the actual dancing and bridges / arches over another dancers head.  No jewelry was the decision (so the new earrings I'd gotten M for this purpose will be for Christmas now! and hidden away yeah, not expensive).   The girls have to look very uniform.  The socks have to be the same length.   No knee-length for the figures dancing, all socks need to be "championship" length, i.e., as another mom described them, "shrunken knee-high's."   I don't like that look as much:)   Another mom had socks that'd work for M, brought last night for her to borrow, and great, they are "correct" for the team look.   That saves $10., for now at least.   These are "poodle" or "bubble" socks that are worn with the traditional ID costumesand shoes, by the girls.  

Boys usually wear long pants, sometimes a kilt, and socks to match which usually means black socks with their black shoes, for ID.  (Scottish step dancers wear kilts and socks matching their kilts, etc.) 

Bloomers (again, only for females, lol).   Ma had visited the hotel, had a meeting, and learned the stages would be raised, and the judges would be sitting slightly below the dancers.   She'd always gone with one color bloomers as that tended to be what girls mostly had.   Another color goes SO much nicer, so Ma asked about switching if possible.   A couple of us parents contacted our dance stores.   The one local to M and I could quite readily accommodate this, me checking at lunch time when another parent had contacted her local store enroute to her work.   Fine.  Means I didn't have to put the charge for the lot of them on MY credit card, just write this woman a small check.  

The excitement was high that night and since.   M wore her "oireachtas team" shirt that night, which I've washed so it'll be ready for her downtime moments this weekend.   She has a new tank top to wear underneath her school dress she is so pumped she almost wore it last night to sleep in.  "No, child, let's not have me have to wash it," "Oh yeah."   Our school "webmistress" was nice enough to send us all the names, competitions, and parents cell phone #'s, for the competitors.   I know who else M and I wish to watch, but they grow older, I don't remember their ages from year to year. :) 

Hotel room has gone back and forth, too, oy!   The original block of rooms Ma had, got screwed up and even SHE is out of a room Sunday night!  Oh, yes, Sunday night.  I'm hearing that there's a parade of winners at the end, and the whole thing at times, per high-level male dancer's mom quoted above, that Sunday night awards have run until 10 p.m.   Yikes.   (He himself is competing all on Saturday this year, performing on Sunday with M's best new dance friend L close to our home.)  Ma is supposed to help break down the stages, also, so needs a room Sunday night.  Yawn, some dancers are taking off school Monday.   (I did warn M's two teachers of her potential tiredness.)

Well, this meant the room for my mother Saturday night fell through, also.   So another parent had a block of about 12 rooms at two OTHER hotels not the main one (is she nuts? or just helpful? lol I know, being helpful but wow).   With M scheduled to dance early Saturday, and late Sunday, Mom really liked the idea of Friday night, just get M there and settled etc. etc.  I thought I'd go nuts having her ready for tonight, but what the heck, they like Friday night.   We got one for tonight from this other parent.   The weather, clear at the moment, but calling for heavy thunderstorms 3-7 p.m. here.   My mother doesn't wish to drive IN to the city, and they wanted to charge my mother $300. to switch the room rate from Friday to Saturday night, YIKES, um, no.   Long run, she worked it out and it's a decent rate for Saturday night.   Oy.  :) 

This will work better for all of us, really.   I'll come home some for Daisy and the cats, and a sanity break if I need it, see my father perhaps, mostly staying down there with M and the others.   The live music will be grand, too, I just know it:)

M is in a 4-hand reel, and an 8-hand reel, meaning a traditional, very precisely done, figures dance with 4 dancers, and another one with 8 dancers, like she was for a feis about a month ago.   (Hmmm, still waiting on two medals from that they were out of at the time, and I even asked this week.)   I'm hearing that either the 4-hand, or the 8-hand, or perhaps both, is not done at all of the Regional competitions.  

The solo dancers are not ranked beginner, advanced beginner, novice, prizewinner, open championship, et al, but simply by age, if I have this correct.   There is a thing called "recall."   Not sure where the emphasis is, first or last syllable, but if a solo dancer is recalled, that's a good thing.   I think a dancer must be recalled to place.   Ma says that about 50% of the solo dancers at Southern Regionals will be recalled, and all of those recalled are likely to place.  This differs for other Regionals, such as the region she was in as a child.  I believe this means they actually dance a second time.   They are required to stay in their outfits (dresses for girls) and ready just in case they are recalled or win and go to get their award(s).

I was having M do an algebra problem to figureout the # of dancers who win:)  It's tricky, and I wish to find the actual rules again and print them for her.   She's thought of using this as her "applied math" project she's to do this year, depending.   IIRC, ten solo dancers in a competition will place, unless a dancer already qualified (for Nationals and/or Worlds?) is one of the top ten, and then 11 dancers will be placed for that competition, as well as one dancer per every ten additional dancers competiting.   Meaning, with a qualified dancer in the top 10, if 120 dancers compete, 22 dancers place.   I think :)

Live music again, of course.   I rather like that traditional aspect:)   At the ceili last Sunday, I happened to sit at the table where Danny Flynn's wife, Kim, and child, Bridget, were (gracious people I've enjoyed dancing and socializing in their southern Maryland home a few times in the past).   During the potluck dinner break, the conversation turned to how is M doing with her dancing.   I talked of her recent interest in the competitive side and a bit about that.   Danny joined in.   Someone asked him why the live music for the competitions, why not a recording?   He responded something to the effect of dancers would practice and learn to a particular recording if there was recorded music for the competitions, (i.e., not practice and learn their dance as primary focus, which should be applicable to dancing along with any piece of appropriate music).    I hadn't thought of that point.   He says that what he does, is play a particular piece of music repeatedly for one particular competition, and then switch it for the next one.  Of course, there are reels, and jigs, and hornpipes, but within those are certainly, and thankfully, variables.

I do agree with Danny that many of the venues are set up so that it's difficult to hear just one musician playing at a time.   He mentioned it from a musicians standpoint, and I knew of it from a parent standpoint.  I told him the one feis that has one competition, and hence one musician, per room, should he be asked to play for that one.  I'm hopeful that it's this way for this particular competition.   As a ballroom is assigned per competition, not just a stage, I think we'll be good here at the Oircheatas:)

Of course, ZandB and MegMaid are two of the bloggers on the "unofficial SRO site" provided above.   Pronunciation, what to expect your first "O," (not THAT "O" sheesz, this is a family site), and a sample note to provide to schools hesitant to allow a student time off for this cultural experience:)   If you've read this far and actually care to know more, in a humorous fashion, jump to:  2006 SRO - Unofficial Blog   It's easy to take, only a "Wee Heavy" (smooth not harsh tasting ale from Scotland, btw.)   Maybe I'll be able to relax with them and others Saturday night even:)

To all the dancers, parents, siblings and grandparents et al, teachers, musicians, judges, sound crew, results runners, concierge's, everyone involved in helping DD and the others have such an experience, traditional and cultural and team-spirited, thanks:)   May the wind always be at your back, your bloomers matching (and remembered), your ears attuned, a smile on your face, and your shoelaces tied tightly.


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