Feis Flounders

I hate performing badly at a feis. So many hours of work and preparation go into about 10 total minutes of dancing on stage, and if I screw it up I feel like the ultimate failure. How, after a year (or sometimes more) of dancing the same steps do I suddenly end up


Shining my shoes and packing the night before.

making up the ending of my slip jig and fudging around trying to do the same thing on the left leg to salvage the dance?



That didn’t happen last weekend. What happened last weekend was actually worse: feeling like you nailed your dances, then still placing poorly. Just not being a good enough dancer really feels worse than accidentally messing up, because all your excuses are out the window.

My fiancé actually attended this feis, which was wonderful until my angry breakdown at awards. I was having a great time dancing, talking with my fellow competitors backstage, arriving early enough to watch some of my favorite youngins compete, and just having my fiancé around for only the second time ever (due to ongoing work conflicts). The only dances I felt bad about were the hornpipe, in which I ran out of steam at the end, and my traditional set which was new and I wasn’t expecting to place in anyway.

The verdict at awards? No placing in the reel, no moving up my hard shoe dances. A couple fourths and a fifth out of seven dances.

Disappointing, though my lovely fiancé tried to cheer me up by saying I did dance well, it was just a very high level of competition, and describing how much better I was than the one other time almost 3 years ago he saw me dance. So, disappointment aside, I’m at least happy to have placed in the reel special (though not in the actual competition why?) and go to pick up my medals.

Just kidding – they’ve run out of medals and I’m supposedly going to receive mine in the mail. Great. At least I have the awards for the special to look forward to, because I like getting trophies and being in an actual award presentation rather than just picking up medals at a table.

Just kidding again – after waiting for about an hour for the awards to be called, I finally get frustrated and go to ask about it. Apparently I missed the presentation (when? I went straight there after competitions were finished, they never did present my competition and I know it) and only first place received a trophy for some bizarre reason, so I got a crappy medal and an apology. At that point all the frustration came out. We always tell the kids having fun competing is all that matters, but deep down it is a competition, we all want to win, and I want to finally get my butt into prelim.

Of course, the only way to do that is to get over it and improve. Same old story in the judges comments with turnout and staying up off my heels being the key feedback. I have a couple more weeks until classes start again, so I’m buckling down and focusing on getting the strength and muscle memory to make that technique autopilot so I don’t have to confuzzle my brain trying to remember both steps and technique. My next feis will be October 1, which is plenty of time to “get good”.

On a more positive note, I’m happy with my new look: dress, hair accessory, and I debuted a new wig. And not attending alone means I finally got some feis pictures.

And a final pick-me-up, because I need to remind myself that this isn’t all impossible. Backstage we were joking that in a combined single jig comp the youngest age (11) would probably be the winner, rather than us older folk. I mentioned I was probably the worst dancer in a class full of 8 to 12 year olds, and one of the other girls exclaims, “But you’re such a good dancer!” That pretty much made my year!


Practice Makes Less Terrible

Dance school is out for about a month, so what is a Novice/Prizewinner to do with herself? Suck a little less, naturally!20170704_095432

This month, without the added stress of getting to class and perfecting steps, I’m pulling back and focusing on technique as well as cross training. Yesterday I went down to my little personal studio (yea), strapped on the hard shoes, and spent about 30 min working solely on my trebles. I brushed out and in over and over, maintaining the proper treble start/end place of my foot flexed just about at ankle height of my non-working foot. I held on to the wall and trebled until all beats were consistently clear. Then I did the same, but without hanging on to the wall. Then I treble-stepped my way around the entire floor over and over and over again. Took a break by running Job of Journeywork, then realized there is no way I’ll be dancing that number at my feis in a couple weeks because I’d rather focus on perfecting my main four dances. Back to treble-stepping.

I started in my new hard shoes but they were just killing my feet and I couldn’t work well with technique, so I switched back to the old ones. I really need to stretch them more before I can dance at all. Being between sizes is the worst!

After exhausting my hard shoe attention span, I switched to my ghillies and ran leaps. I’m working on getting a better leap and moving towards the hanging leap. I thought I was doing better, so I took a video to confirm. The answer is no – I’m not doing better at hanging at all. The leap doesn’t look bad, but it’s still a “baby leap” and needs work if I want to get to Prelim. I did a drill where I tried to hold one leg out while jumping and tucking my leg underneath (basically this movement) four times, switching my working leg on the fourth jump but holding the first leg up and out as long as possible before making the switch. My jumping leg barely left the ground and I had a hard time switching, so I think continuing work on this drill and improving my strength in my jump will be a key component of getting a hanging leap.

My core goal is to do 20 min twice a week and actually be able to hold my plank or continue my drills for a full minute by August, which is what we do in our Drills class and I can never keep up with!

Outside of my little bubble, the North American Nationals are currently taking place. My teacher, who is my age and a huge inspiration to me, danced yesterday. She had been in a car accident recently and it really derailed her training, and she told me she felt very unprepared (to the point of almost pulling out of the competition). Instead, she placed 28th out of about 70 (maybe more) dancers! It’s her best placing in years (maybe even ever, I’m not sure). Of all the amazing things she does and is, the fact that she keeps improving every year since I started studying under her is hugely motivating. I’m hoping to make Open Champion before she retires from competing so I can dance with her at least once.