A large portion of our family time is spent doing Irish dance or dance related activities. This past fall we made a very dramatic move for our family and changed dance schools. A lot of prayer and discussion went into this decision because it would mean leaving a lot of friends that we really loved. As well, it would mean a six month ban on competition under the North American Irish Dance rules. It’s not something to be done lightly. However, we LOVE our new school Rince na h’Eireann. Miss Lisa, our teacher and school operator, is wonderful. Our Raleigh location is one of six locations in NC. We knew a number of people at our new school prior to our move and they welcomed us with open arms. The kids have made lots of new friends, as well, Andrew has other boys to dance with. But now our six months are up and we’ve already got a number of competitions lined up for this year.
I decided to post on our latest trip to Charlotte, NC. A feis is an Irish dance competition. It’s pronounced ‘fesh’. I’m assuming it’s a Gaelic word. The plural of feis is feisanna. Competing is not mandatory but it sure is fun and the kids enjoy it. We try to pick competitions close to home that don’t require a long drive. Charlotte is only about 3 hours down the road. This feis was put on by our school. It’s an annual fundraiser for a home for special needs children who’s care is more than their families can handle on their own. All the proceeds from the feis go to the Holy Angels Home here in NC.
In Irish dance there are several different types of steps and shoes, jigs, reels, sets. Aria and Andrew each competed in 5 different steps based on their skill level and age level. Andrew is a skill level ahead of Aria so he gets a solo costume. For a boy that means a fancy vest. His vest is covered in sparkles that don’t really show up in the pictures very well. Some of the girls costumes are COVERED in crystals. And, yes, I made Andrew’s vest. I took his old plain black one apart. I’m pretty proud of myself. Hopefully, when Aria is that level I’ll be able to make her first dress too.
Aria is still an advanced beginner so she’s wearing her school dress and of course her little wig. Almost all the girls in Irish dance wear wigs. As she moves up she’ll get some ‘bigger’ hair. Right now she just wears a little bun wig but she loves the curls.
For each dance all the competitors line up at the back of the stage. A judge sits at a table in front of them with a tally sheet. The kids dance 2 or three at a time and bow when they finish their steps. The results are tallied and then posted. Depending on how big a venue is will determine how many stages they have. This place was small so there were three stages going at once with three judges.
One of Aria’s soft shoe dances. She’s in the middle of the line.
She’s next to start dancing.
Andrew was the only boy in most of his dances, makes him easier to spot in the pictures. His group is from the edge of the stage to the white line. In this dance Andrew took second place.
Aria and Andrew both did very well. Aria received two second places, a third, and a fourth. Andrew got a first, second, and a third. We’re very proud of how well they do but also of how they are learning to win and lose gracefully. Travelling, sleeping in a hotel, up early, and working hard means sleeping on the way home.
Aria’s hair after the wig comes out.
The results are in and they’re ready to go again.
This fall Joshua and Christopher will be joining in the fun. They’re eager to start collecting those medals too.