Three new preliminary champion Irish stepdancers, one in a new (for her) solo dress that fits her style and looks great on her!!! and two in borrowed (new for them) solo dresses that look great on them.
On the way to the feis Saturday morning, M was putting on her makeup. She'd had a few um, "moments" getting her hair fixed. Her nervousness gets translated into frustration with her hair that she wants PERFECT, then, she's over it. Saturday, she was nervous and cranky, this first time competing as a preliminary champion dancer was apparently exciting and quite nervewracking. Hey, I let HER do her own hair now, but sometimes a girl still needs her mom, and I was there for her, not that I could get it perfectly, either of course. Hence, by the time we were driving, her wig and tiara were on, and she was putting on her makeup in a much better mood. "Are you becoming a princess?" Pause. "Yes."
Her iPOD has several Irish stepdance songs on it and she soon had that plugged into her ears, hand-dancing and other reviewing of her steps. I was happy I got a good breakfast into her -- she likes when I make biscuits and put pretend (soy) sausage in them, and fortified juice. We brought healthy snacks, too, as she can get too nervous to eat so we need smaller portioned, easy to eat foods I can put in front of her, "EAT!"
M and her two good friends pictured here had an Oireachtas camp this past week, for 3 hours a day. They didn't dance straight through for 3 hours per day; that'd be insane. They also had pilates (tailored to the Irish step dancer), and focused both on their solo dances and set for the Oireachtas in December (all new), and their figures dances. These dancers were ready. Figures Dancer commented on how really good M has become, and details why. M said a while back that she's gotten more serious about her competitive dancing, and is focusing more during classes. It helped that this is one of the best feiseanna, and is a local one meaning we didn't have a long drive, nor a hotel required, and that she'd know a lot of dancers there.
It was a fun feis, a whole new ballgame at prelim vice "the grades" (meaning levels from first feis, if offered, and beginner, up through open prizewinner). Some of the dancers M has always looked up to is at this level. A lot of questions, a lot of watching. Heck, it was a lot of waiting, too. We got there early just to be certain, early enough we could have looked at the new hardshoes she needs but M never dared take the time. I was happy to see SO's daughter dance, for example -- a great hornpipe which ended up 2nd in prizewinner yeah!, and I missed her others but I looked up the results for her dance, then asked her what her competitor # was -- yeah, she one first and got her treble jig out of novice! A real goal for her, so we were happy.
The champions dance each dance for longer at this level, than when in prizewinner level, and I kept thinking they were done (or should be), then they'd stay dancing either their last half step, or another whole step, for either 2.5 steps total, or 3. I kept ending in my head at 2 ha.
They don't dance separate dances, sometimes four, sometimes five or six. Their main competition is both one hardshoe and one softshoe, which they chose in advance when registering for the feis. M and L competed in hornpipe (hardshoe), and reel (softshoe), as that's what the U14 girls will dance at the Southern Region Oireachtas this December. Their friend here is U13, and danced treble jig and slip jig. Sometimes, age groups are combined, so the P U13 was combined with the P U14 at this feis, for 30 registered dancers. There were six dancers from M's ID school in this one competition, which is not typical when the competitions are separated by ages.
The champion dancer competitions have larger stages, sometimes in auditoriums. For this feis, their competition was held in the regular stage room, with a larger stage, and their treble reel was in the auditorium. M was excited about dancing on an auditorium stage for the first time. L corrected her, that it was their first time COMPETING on an auditorium stage. Ha, quite true. They are both seasoned dancers when it comes to a dancing on a variety of stages, including a few different auditoriums. It was good that they danced two at a time, and not three at a time. With the larger stages, sometimes dancers will compete 3 at a time, and it was scheduled to be for them but was changed with the competition just before theirs, with the next younger age groups, kept dancing almost into each other.
M felt her thighs cramp after the hardshoe (hornpipe) round, which looked really good just, well, she's up against stiff competition now. About the cramping, huh? Friends helped her out while I asked TCRG Ma for advice, who recommend two stretches. "Stay moving." "Massage your thighs." "Eat a banana." "Drink water." "She's not getting enough oxygen." Ugh, my fear, as she has asthma, and sometimes dancing THIS hard and aerobically, exabberates it. M declined her inhaler, however, saying it decreased her stamina. Hmmm, we're going to talk w/ her pediatrician about that. Closer to when the soft-shoe round (reel for her) was beginning, she said her arches were hurting. I know those daggone flip flips don't help, but the arches are just starting to hurt NOW? FiguresTeacher said M danced a very clean and good reel, very cautiously. When M's at her best, wow, and this was very very good but not her very best. It's okay. This is her first time at this level. I'd love her to do well, but primarily, I wish her to do well compared with herself, to feel good about it, and, of course, to have fun and enjoy it.
Results. There are awards on podiums for the top three placers, and typically 50% of a competition get placed instead of, say, the top 3-6 max. We watched some others, between checking on when her treble reel would go. Finally her competition was announced. Out of the 30 registered, 24 danced (I hear there are more no-shows for prelims but it still surprised me, is it b/c it's summer? this is a good feis), meaning 12 dancers were placed. Two of M's friends (from her school) got 11th and 12th place. Then they called competitor # x and name and Irish Dance school name for 10th place, then 9th place, in descending order. It's a big deal to place, and her friends did great by placing. As a first-time prelim dancer, we completely expected M to not place (that'd be normal). "And in 6th place, competitor # 249, M[full name] of the [ID school name]." WOW. M was SO SO happy, asked where to stand, etc., and the main TC of the hosting school gave M her trophy, "And in 5th place......" Yes, M danced well, but this was not expected. She beamed over at me, standing there while the others got their trophies and bowl, clapping, bowing.
They get their individual score sheet immediately afterwards. It's a rule, and a good one, that three judges must judge the champion competitions at a feis. Each judge writes down her or his score for each dancer for the hardshoe round, and then again for the softshoe round. Nicely, each of these three also wrote comments. The one put M down as 13th for her hardshoe, and 5th for her softshoe, while the other two had M between 2nd and 4th place, wow, 2nd. The overall scores are averaged and is how M ended up in 6th place.
M then called TCRG Ma who had had to leave after watching their dancing, and later calling FiguresTeacher. We watched the rest of the results, LCGirl placed, too, yeah!, and L and others won between 1st and 3rd in Treble Reel and got to stand on the podium for those.
M is, deservedly, thrilled. She said she can't wait now for the Oireachtas. It will be in Orlando this year. I laughed, can we at least wait until it's not HOT down there? I reminded her to stay practicing this week, and we talked about how much and how often.
L felt she'd be a lot more comfortable now dancing prelim. She did look really good. They deserved to have moved up, getting challenged again. Supporting each other while working on their personal bests, working really hard.
Of course, I let M join with friends after at a local restaurant, and even get dessert. LCGirl and M still had their wigs and tiaras on, albeit the 80's dressed folk lent "difference" to the place as well. That night, it was social time. A musician ended up playing The Unicorn song even ha. Sunday, M had a lot of fun dancing for the fun of dancing, at a small parade and performance in front of a historical city, us enjoying the camaderie and the outing. And, having fun, is, ultimately, what it's all about, whether competing, performing for an audience, for oneself. Heck, it's a continuation of a heritage, and a good sport. And, yes, I am also proud. I told her she can get her trophy engraved.