Monday, August 13, 2007

so, is she Prelim now?

I've checked the NAFC (North American Feis Commission) rules (Dancing Comp. Rules), and the ones specific to the Southern Region.  One first place win in an Open (Prizewinner) hard shoe, and one first place win in an Open (Prizewinner) soft shoe competition (in an official NAFC sanctioned feis with 5 or more competitors and yadda yadda), seems to be the only required qualification for a competing Irish step dancer to move from Prizewinner level to Preliminary Champion level.  Without anything I can see indicating that a competitor MUST move up levels (perhaps by January of the following year, or is that not applicable to Open Prizewinner? conflicting info there).

Memorial Day weekend, 2006, after going to class only every/other week (C refused to take her or switch nights that school year yet that was thee night for M's specific class), with not a lot of extra practice, M attended the CCE/Comhaltas Feis.  This was her first time at the Novice level.  (A competitor, if qualified, moves from Beginner, to Advanced Beginner, to Novice, to Open Prizewinner to Preliminary Champion to Open Championship.)  M was just beaming.  I'll never forget that man at the award room who handed over the paper for M to sign, indicating taht she'd picked up her award, "Congratulations, young lady."  Many dancers who move to Novice, stay there for years.  Bamn, M got a first in her reel, did great in her other dances, and had so much fun, she was sold on competitive dancing.

So, now she feis'es (more than 2-3 a year -- we even traveled last year to Delaware Feis and Rhythm of Ireland, both a first for us, traveling "just" for a feis.)  And, Si started feising partway through this past school year (technically qualifies for Novice now, her first year of dancing, in at least three dances, at 5 years old this summer, often having to compete in the U7 instead.  This means that if M is with them, and Si is in a feis, they rather have to allow M to feis, also (albeit the 2 times so far, M's been signed up for half of her dances).

Fast forward 14-15 months from that CCE 2006 Feis, to yesterday's ICCD (Irish Culture Club of Delaware), aka, the Delaware Feis.  M was coming off of last months Nation's Capital Feis, one she'd not been able to attend previously (as she'd been with C), and Sh signed M up for about half of M's dances (but the feis somehow let me pay tons and add Treble Jig, M's last Novice dance, and add/upgrade her Hornpipe from Novice, which she won 1st place in at Celtic Fling Feis, to Prizewinner, and had her second time for Prizewinner slip jig as she just got first in Novice slipjig at Old Dominion Feis earlier this summer).   Meaning, yesterday was M's first time at all Open Prizewinner level for the four types of dances that "count."  (She'd not always competed the light jig and had always placed but didn't get first in, at Novice.  M did win first place Trebel Reel at a combined Novice/Prizewinner at Comhaltas/CCE Feis in 2007.  Figures don't count for this, either.)

More background, at Nation's Capital, M nailed the Treble Jig, getting 1st to move to Prizewinner (and 1st in her 2-hand reel with L.)  She got 2nd place in her Prizewinner Slip Jig (only her second time dancing Slip Jig at this level), and 2nd place in her Prizewinner Reel, both 2nds to a boy who swept her age group's Open Prizewinner at this competition, and had recently earned 15th at NAN's (Northern American something or other, but the North American competition, the best on the continent yet others attend, also, somehow).  M's first time at Prizewinner hornpipe was "in and out of rhythm" per the judge.  Ma told M, C, and I, that M's timing was off, previous to this feis.

"The twins" joined M in Novice Light Jig.  The girl seemed so happy to see M (she was looking for M or L), and pulled M over with her.  Her and her twin brother both danced great.  (M finally got her 1st in that one, "Why does your mother even sign you up for light jig?"  Well, to be honest, why not, even if it doesn't "count," besides, then it gives her something extra, something she doesn't have to worry about.  And, it tends to help her have a practice one.)

M didn't dance her reel as jaw-dropping beautifully as she did the other night, yet, she still owned that reel.  Her reel, Daisy's Reel.  She felt she would, and she did get 1st place.  That's a softshoe dance, performed in ghillies, at the Open Prizewinner level.  Neither L nor M did well for (Prizewinner) slipjig this time.  M got 4th place, and L something beyond that even.  All of us were pulling for L in Slip Jig and Treble Jig in particular, as those are the "O" (Oireachtas) dances for the U13's this year, and L had to placewell in order to stay being considered to attend as a solo dancer.  M's 4th place in Slip Jig was 1 point behind 2nd place (who was 3 points behind 1st).  M's first time at Prizewinner Treble Jig, she got 4th place!  That's a great placement, really.  She had trouble with her ankle during standing toestands at a hard shoe drills class last week (so worked on that and tried to switch things a bit).  Phew, L got her first place in (the same) Treble Jig.  M apparently got her timing worked out for Hornpipe, also a hardshoe dance.  This was the not expected but thrilling first place in Prizewinner Hornpipe.  (I think L got 2nds in Reel and Hornpipe this feis, not clear.)

M and L also chatted with other "feis friends" while there.  I'm thrilled with the sportsmanship I see them show each other, and others within the school, and also to dancers from other schools.  It got to where five of them in the U13 Prizewinner group from different Irish dance schools were practicing their hardshoes on stage, laughing and talking with each other during a stage conflict break.  We also tried to catch V, too late for M to be able to stay, however, and a young woman from "the not liked ID school" who has been in Novice since M started Irish step dancing, was beaming with her 2nd place in Novice reel (whom of course we congratulated). 

(We ran into a former codancer of M's -- we do sometimes and always happy to say hi and be supportive (as is Ma, honestly).  This time, I was taken back as her mother told me she thought "good riddance" for M's Irish dance school's local studio to have to close (for monetary reasons).  Wow, what a rude slap and putdown of us and our decision to have M stay in her ID school, and the ID school itself, one we love.  The ID school this girl attends now would not wish for that parents behavior, and is the school M would be in yet only if M's current ID school was not available for her. 

M and I had been thinking that 1st place in all four of the main dances (for girls, three dances for boys as they don't dance slip jig), is required for a dancer to qualify to move up from the Open Prizewinner Level, to Preliminary Champion Level.  That's a really big deal, and M is THRILLED she got firsts in two of the dances.  It wasn't until I read a note from someone else, that I remembered the NAFC rules and looked them up.  As far as I can tell, M IS qualified for Prelims now, technically speaking.  What do I do with the next feiseanna for her, not have her dance the ones where she placed first, still have her dance those again, also, move to Prelim's?  Usually, an Irish Dance school will have their own rules for moving up, and the TCRG needs to make that determination based upon his or her best judgement for his/her school and the specific dancer.  I'm guessing that M's ID school requires a first in each of the four main dances, not just a first in one hard shoe and one soft shoe dance. 

"Mom, can you tell Grandma that I think I've earned (OlderM's) solo dress?," said a bit demurely.  This is a dress Grandma's already mostly agreed to get for M, anyway, a more modern styled solo dress that fits in with most everyone else (not at the highest levels), a lighter weight fabric, it's in blue, and it fits her very well.  Ah, honey.  You've earned something alright, and we're all so very proud of you:)

M waits for her marks and talks with friends, then I wait for her marks while she waits in line for her trophies.  C calls me.  I answer, "She just picked up her trophies."  C responds gruffly, "She's supposed to have left by now."  Gee, lovely, even if the rest of the day was much improved from how he was with M last year. (This year, Si feised there, also, yeah, and C's sister and brother-in-law came again this year (I called them last year), and we all shared pizza together this year, etc., C left I suppose when they did, but he, Sh, and Si, returned having to wait until M was done before he could leave this time.  He usually doesn't stay for many of M's dances).  Eh.  We take time out for our obligatory end of feis photo.  He fusses to her that she just lost her chance to do anything she else she wanted to (yet he really should know by know that it takes this length of time).  M really can't leave in just her gold bloomers and her sweats are too hot, so she has to go to my vehicle (and pick up her items from C's, anyway, and changes out of her bright green feis earrings and out of her gold bloomers into jean capris, and makes sure to leave me her three golden trophies to take home), and still gets to the vehicle C's in, before Sh and Si emerge from the building. 
M is happy with the day, with her weekend, her friends new and old (V was there!!), feeling really great about how she danced except for slip jig.  M has no idea that in 14-15 months, she's gone from first time in Novice, to qualifying for Preliminary Champions!  :)   I'm going to verify how her ID school/ her TCRG (Ma) handles it before I tell her this. 
Reading the rules for the other regions listed in that link to the overall NAFC rules, and per the MidWest Region message board, I found out that the Midwest Standardized something rules, states that a dancer must place 1st in each of the four main dances in order to qualify to move up to preliminary champion level.   M is registered for a feis in that region in September.  I'm not trying to move her up too soon, I'm not trying to hold her back.  I just wish to do thiscorrectly, and have her dancing where appropriate.  For this feis at a minimum, she'll stay in all Open / Prizewinner categories.  It did NOT say this for the Mid-Atlantic Region, where Ma is from, or from any other region (such as Southern Region).  We'll hear in time how Ma wants these followed for M and M's ID school, I just want to know so that I can tell M!  She will be SO excited.  Even if she's kept in all Open Prizewinner a little longer.
Wow, all, sorry for the convulted writing.  I've been burned out, enjoyed much of our weekend, and thinking this all through in my foggy head.  I'm excited for M, and eager to hear more info.


  1. Thats exciting! :o)

  2. I would have never believed there were so many rules & regulations.  If I am following this correctly, she did really well.  Congratulations!  It's nice to see good sportsmanship as opposed to nasty jealousy, which is what I usually envision when it comes to girls competing in dance.  Maybe I've seen too many movies.

  3. YAY M!!! Two firsts... I'd be thrilled too!!
    Reading your reflections and impressions of this feis brings me back to skating competitions our eldest daughter participated in. There were so many rules and regulations that made it difficult to navigate the competition and know where our daughter ranked. Reading all about what you did, M being with friends, meeting dancers... again takes my back to the camaraderie we experienced at skating competitions.I'm excited for you and M with her results.

    Thanks for reviving some old family memories of mine.
    Happy Saturday.