Sunday, November 20, 2016

The 2016 New England Oireachtas

When I started Irish Dance I learned St. Patrick's Day. When I transferred over a year ago my current TC and I ultimately decided to abandon it because my old school's choreography (and honestly, my bad habits) were so ingrained that we wanted to start with something fresh. She decided to teach me Jockey to the Fair because I would need it for Oireachtas "next year" (My ban ended a few weeks after last year's Oireachtas). It always seemed so far away and illusive, something that I had so much time for and here I sit home from my weekend in Providence wearing my custom made Oireachtas Jacket and feeling utterly exhausted. 

I feel content. I feel accomplished, I feel a small twinge of disappointment, and I also feel blessed and motivated. I am proud to say that I cried more happy tears than sad ones. It feels weird to being going to class tomorrow and finally be moving on to something new. It's going to be weird staying home on the weekends until the middle of January. But honestly, It's a relief.

I didn't dance until Saturday afternoon but my mother and I still drove up Friday morning so that we could relax, get a lay of the land, and support my classmates. When the hotels in our block opened up I must have tried three places that were sold out before I could make a reservation. I ended up not going with my first choice but honestly the hotel was amazing. I'm a bit sad that the Oireachtas will be in Hartford next year (other than the fact that it will be a 40 minute drive as opposed to an almost two hour one) because the Hotel Providence was amazing. We were upgraded to a suite, the food was delicious, it was a 5 minute walk from the venue and there were plenty of restaurants and things within walking distance. Once we got settled we checked out the Omni where my trad set competition was going to be held and then headed over the convention center to buy some brand new socks and to meet up with my TC for practice. I also got to see a few of my older Senior lady friends do their soft rounds.

This was before this little cutie sobbed because she was "so proud of her big sister" who got 15th

Can I just say that those of you champ dancers that practice in the practice room at majors are fearless? My teacher wanted us to practice in the rotunda room because it had a similar floor to what we'd be dancing on and I wanted to die from over stimulation. It was loud, people were vying for space. Despite this I thought my practice went okay. I told my TC I would warm up in our practice space because there was no way that I'd be calm if I went in the rotunda room again. After our practice it was so close to awards that we just found a spot to sit and waited. It was a good day for SRL. Our little trad set dancers both got 11th. Our u10 (my peanut I've talked about) placed 15th and qualified for Nationals her first year doing solos, and our u20 got 6th and was one out from qualifying for Worlds. My mom and I went back to our hotel and ate crazy master chef food (delicious but strange) and then I glued crystals on my dress because a crap ton were missing, took a shower, and went to bed.
Still missing gems but I figured no one would see the back!

After our rotunda room practice session

I tried to sleep in because I didn't have to get to the Omni for my hair and make up until 1 pm. I could not sleep so my mother and I got up at about 8 (which I guess is sleeping in compared to a normal day) and I practiced for a bit before we went down and I ate a really yummy breakfast. I was anxious so my mother and I walked around Providence a bit before we just said "Screw it" and went to the Omni to be nervous there instead of in my hotel room. I watched one of my class mates dance Blackbird (She ended up getting 4th in her age group!) before I went up and got my hair and make up done by one of the champ girls. She made me look so beautiful that I didn't recognize myself. I also don't know how I will ever recreate it when I finally feis again in the New Year. Haha. I did a pretty thorough warm up before we taped my shoes, but on my dress, and headed down to the ballroom. We timed it perfectly as when I got down there I only stood around for about 10 minutes before they had us lining up and walking back stage. There were 8 of us and everyone was so nice we wanted to all recall and celebrate together!
...and after
When you look like you're in open but dance like a Nov-winner

I danced fourth and I danced alone. Overall I felt that I did well. I walked on and off confidently and I smiled the whole time. I was pleased with my new look and I thought that I did a really solid version of Jockey for me. My classmate and another friend that came to watch me thought it was my best Jockey ever and maybe for preforming it at a competition it was, but I've done better ones in class (isn't that how it always goes?) Either way as soon as I was far enough away to not be overheard I started crying because I danced successfully at the oireachtas. My TC was pleased with how it went, I was happy with how it went and there were no major screw ups. Two years ago I was crying because my old TC said I would embarrass him if I ever went to the Oireachtas and I accomplished my goal to drop down and dance on that stage. I am finally wearing a beautiful dress that I can honestly say that I earned and makes me feel beautiful and confident. I had new shoes that made my beats sound clear. It was such a relief to be done!

After I danced my mom and I went out to dinner at the this really cool fondue restaurant and we waited for results while having cheese and wine. I ultimately did not recall, and while I was disappointed (and yes I did cry a tiny bit but luckily no where that would have made me look like a poor sport) I have since come to peace with it. Firstly, I came in 6th. That means that I did better than 2 people and I'm looking forward to seeing my marks because I'd like to know how close I was to 5th and ultimately a place on that podium (they only recalled 4). Second, it was my first Oireachtas. I still enjoyed the experience and got to dance on a large stage which was amazing. Third, and I'm pretty sure I already said this...I WAS AN ADVANCED BEGINNER LAST YEAR. Hell, I was still doing advanced beginner in February and March. The girls in the Top 4 were all prizewinners. As much as I would have loved to have held that giant cup and stood on top of podium, it was going to be a stretch. The fourth reason is going to get it's own paragraph...

...I tried to explain this to my TC last night. Being at the Oireachtas is an accomplishment in itself. Having a recall the first time would have been mind blowing, but I know that it will happen someday. The oireachtas are just a step in my journey. My journey is to get into open champs. In a more obtainable sense, my goal is to get out of the grades. Even while I prepared for this weekend all these months, I've been far more focused on my slip jig and treble jig and in January I will start dancing my reel and hornpipe in Prizewinner. Now that the Oireachtas are over, I can go back to focusing on my core dances. I'm not trying to demean the value of the Oireachtas because I already can't wait to go back next year, but I want to be a true senior lady more than most of you know and I cannot WAIT to get back out there and start climbing that mountain. As I said before, I have a dress that makes me feel like a princess (or the Queen in the North *wink wink*) and I'm so excited to wear it while I feis in the new year!

I wrapped up my Saturday being ordered to go home and rest (I'm pretty sure I've got bronchitis...I've been sick with a nasty cough for almost two weeks) so instead of awards, my mom and I ate Bao Bao (yummy Chinese dumplings with chicken and lobster in them) and watched Harry Potter in our hotel room. Found out that our u16 got 39th and our u17 got 29th (I already told you about my classmate getting 4th. I pegged her for champion so I wasn't too far off!) Today we ate breakfast, headed out late morning, and got back home in the afternoon. Back to the real world and back to class tomorrow.

All in all I had a great weekend and I feel very blessed. I go to a great school and I dance with some great people who have wonderful and supportive families. (Some were emailing me today to make sure I was feeling okay.) I feel so lucky that I have an open minded TC who believes in me. I'm looking forward to seeing how this coming year treats me because my 2016 dance year was pretty unbelievable. I'm also looking forward to resting my body and my mind and coming back stronger than ever in January!

Nothing would be possible without my TC!

Hope everyone else had a successful oireachtas/year!


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