A bit of a jet-lagged ramble this morning as I’m recently returned from the UK. Prior to leaving, the U.S. Western Region Oireachtas was held and fortunately via Facebook I was
able to watch a live stream of the awards the first night (was flying/traveling the rest of the time).
Irish is one of those forms of dance that has a huge competitive element depending on your school. While we do performances, I dance at a school where most of the focus lies on competing. The one deviation would be St. Patrick’s season, where we do a marathon of performances across the region. I’ve danced at a number of local feiseanna, or Irish dance competitions. Oireachtas is the next level, referred to as a Major. Majors encompass national-scale competitions (like the North American Irish Dance Championships or All Irelands) and the World Championships. Regional competitions are often included under the Major umbrella as well (though I’ve heard some people do not consider them as such).
Qualification criteria is what all Majors have in common. At the regional Oireachtas level, at least for my region, this criteria comes from the school. At our school, in order to compete in the solo competitions at Oireachtas you must have at least 3 of your main 4 dances at the Prizewinner level. I currently have 2: slip jig and treble jig.
But watching the results is pretty infectious. The more I cheered for the recalls, podium placements, and world qualifiers from my school, the more I wanted to be there in person to experience it myself. I was so thrilled when a girl from my Novice/Prizewinner class recalled (score in top 50% after 2 rounds, dance a 3rd round for final placement and award) and there was an unexpected world qualification to be excited for as well! A fellow adult, who has been struggling in Prelim the past year but has started placing recently, moved up almost 30 places from last year’s placement too.
While it will take a lot of work to be presentable at that level (i.e., not dead last), I really only need to advance one more dance from Novice to Prizewinner by June workshop to be eligible (assuming my school doesn’t update the rules). That’s a very doable goal. A little more of a stretch is to be in Prelim by then, which is safe from any rule updates. Then, of course, the most ambitious goal of all: not dead last at the Oireachtas.
I think I can get there.