Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The O'Shea Chaplin Christmas Feis

I know I already posted about everything on various forms of social media, but I figured I would give a more detailed run down of how everything went on Sunday!

You all know how excited I was for this competition. It was six months in the making, in reality it's been a year and eight months in the making. The chance to finally see if I could contend with the general dancing population, girls half my age (or more in the case of my advanced beginner competitions) I had butterflies in my stomach as soon as we were at the one week mark. Saturday night and Sunday morning, I was excited, nervous, and ready.

This is probably the furthest I've ever gone to a feis, it was over two hours. It was to the point that I wanted to stay at a hotel, but my husband talked me out of it. That's another shocking thing about this feis. I somehow managed to get my "ever so supportive" (it's in quotations to denote the sarcasm) to come to Saugus to watch me dance. The jury is still out whether this was an eye opening experience for him. He took some great pictures and told me that he loved me like a million times, but he also was sleeping in the auditorium while open champs were doing there sets so...my mother and aunt also came to support me which was really nice.

Due to my husband being habitually late, having to stop and pee and getting a bit lost, we got there a bit later than I wanted to. Luckily the school wasn't too big so I was able to find all the places that I had to dance, give a class mate her dress and warm up a bit before it was time to head to the stage. This feis was great in many ways, but one of the things I wasn't crazy about was the fact that it was a bit disorganized. I will get more into this later, but there was no one to check in with to make sure you were at the right place, some girls from the stage next to us got confused and were on our stage.

Then I discovered that my judge was my TC's old TC. Without giving too much away, several girls transferred from judges school to our school when my TC passed her exam. So for various reasons, judge is not the biggest fan of our school. None of that directly involves me, but I still freaked out when I saw her. She probably recognizes our school dresses. OH man I better have seriously low expectations now because she's going tank me. Meanwhile the practical part of me is arguing that she was never my TC so she would have no reason to do that to me. We got in line, I lucked out and got to dance first, I met a really nice girl who it was her first feis and she was awesome (Nice and talented) and I finally danced against enough people for it to count. I'm proud to say that I placed in everything but hornpipe. Once again hornpipe becomes an enigma at competitions even though it almost never goes wrong in class. I got first in Light Jig which I felt was the cleanest of the five. (No OVERS!) I got third in reel, slip jig, and treble jig. As I said previously on Tumblr, I felt really confident during all these dances but I know they weren't perfect. I wasn't loud enough in treble jig, maybe I'm the loudest in my class, but not yesterday. As for my softshoe dances, there were weird flubs that didn't throw me off completely but didn't make it a perfect performance. Still really really happy with how those advanced beginner dances went.

So once I finished those dances we headed to the gym for the Novice dances. I only had my traditional set in Novice so I had to stand and wait while everyone else did their other dances. Something that became glaringly obvious as I watched them dance was that Novice is a crapshoot. There were some girls that were clearly ready for prizewinner and it was so fun to watch them, however there were some girls that didn't look as comfortable with their steps. Like I don't want to sound full of myself, but I think I would have done better because they just didn't seem confident. They also ended up combining age groups so I was originally supposed to do Jockey alone, but I ended up dancing with two other girls (also very nice! One even told me that my set looked really good!) They both did St. Patrick's day and while the hardest part of Jockey was so good I wanted to cry tears of joy but it wasn't perfect. I was just satisfied to have not danced any dances alone and was going to be happy with what I got. So we headed to the auditorium to wait for single jig. I waited for about fifteen minutes before I walked down results to see my number in the first place spot for traditional set. I know that many judges see St. Patrick's day as a more basic set so I'm thinking that probably helped me, but I was really surprised to see that I did so well!

So here's the one annoying part of the day, and of course it was the end of the day so I feel like the day wasn't ruined or anything but it definitely fell a bit flat. Things were running behind in the auditorium and by the time I finished my set and moved our belongings in there, they must have already announced that they were moving single jig to the gym. So my family and I sat there for almost an hour before someone announced that they were starting the next group of champ dancers, the one that was supposed to be after my last dance. When I walk over to the stage hand she tells me that I missed it, but they announced it and posted it on their facebook page. I check their facebook page everyday and it never dawned on me to check it at the feis. I was so in the zone that by the time I would have looked, I would have missed it anyway. She assured me to write it on my entry form for the next one. Still stinks, don't know when I'll get to do single jig again, but it was still a really great day.

I would like to go back to a little over a year ago and talk to two people. The first would be my old TC who told me that dropping down would be bad for me, and that judges would get a poor opinion of me. I'd love to show him my results, I'd love for him to see how much my dancing has improved since leaving him. How parents and fellow dancers were nothing but nice to me. Every time I hear the song Alive by Sia I think of my old TC, he could have really changed the world for Irish Dancing Adults in New England with his generation of teachers if he had just let me prove to him that I could do it.

The other person I would like to talk to is myself. The depressed, injured version of me who never thought she was going to get better. I'd like to tell her that she would become a better dancer than before her shin splints got excruciating. That she'd win first place in her trad set (at this point I hadn't even gotten my first at the Lynn Feis) or against ten other people. That she'd find a place to thrive one day. That she'd be on her way to Novice.

32 days until I do it again,



  1. Congratulations on a great feis! ;) You look great in your dress; it's fierce and lovely! It's too bad that it felt a little disorganized, nonetheless you did awesome! You can definitely see how happy you were in your pictures!! My husband came with me to my last feis and while he enjoyed watching me dance, he did admit to feeling a little bored beforehand (we got to the feis way early haha XD). I bet it was fun to share that day with your family! I can't believe your old TC was so unsupportive; it sounds like dropping down was good for you. I personally am enjoying starting out with the adult levels right now, so we'll see where that goes. I just registered for a feis in mid-January and I can't wait!! We're hoping to take our kids, but I'm not sure yet. This upcoming feis is a little far. What is your next feis? I'm so glad you posted; I was thinking about you this weekend and was so excited to read an update!! <3 I need to look up a video of Jockey on Youtube; I haven't seen it yet. My Blackbird is finally coming along and one of my TC's was really proud of me last night after I danced it for him. That felt good. :)

  2. Thanks so much! The dress was definitely a confidence booster. My next feis is Feis Nu Blain Nua in Tarrytown New York. It's January 17th and then I have one in Connecticut the following weekend. The goal is to be completely in Novice by May (Which is when I turn 27) So here's hoping.

    I'd never seen Jockey until dance camp this summer and I'm so glad I got to learn it. My husband took a video of me dancing it, I'll have to upload it sometime. We started learning the Cork version of Blackbird two Mondays ago and it's been good. I used to have a mental block with traditional sets, but I've been picking them up lately. :)