Friday, December 24, 2010

Can Santa bring me better Turnout?

Dear Santa,

Let me just start with, I've been a very good Irish Dancer this year. I've gone to all of my classes (except one, and that was becuase I wasn't feeling well and just didn't have the gas money) and practiced very hard. I have my steps written down, and even when I can't drill them, I still study them and try to memorize them. I've paid all my class fees on time and even ordered school spirt wear (which, really, wasn't that much of a hassle if I have to be completely honest.) I've even practiced in the back office at work when it was slow, despite the copier quite patently trying to kill me.

I know lots of dancers are asking you for lots of things. New pair of shoes, a nice shiney wig. Perhaps the overly presumptious will even as you for a Solo Dress. And I'll admit, all of those things would be nice and I totally wouldn't say no . . .. but all I really want is something small.

I want for my gosh-darned heels to stay pointed out like they should. If you could just see your way to helping me with this (I know it's not a tangible gift but if you can magically shit out toys for every single child in the world AND magically deliver them all in the space of a few hours, then I don't see how you couldn't just streatch the magic a bit) I will continue to be the best dancer I can be.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Break

So, my dance school does a 2 week winter break over Christmas. Good for having more time to prepare for the festivities, bad for me remembering all those steps I just learned last week.

One of the downsides of being an adult dancer is our ability to remember our steps. Sure just cause we're over the age of 19 doesn't mean we're all candidates for the dementia and memory loss ward at the local old-people mill, but we're sure as heck not the knowledge absorbing sponges that the 5-17 crowd is. It's a well known fact the younger you are, the better retention for knowledge you have. So, show an 11 year old 2 new slip-jig steps, and in two weeks they'll still remember it. Show me, and I fall into feeling like an idiot whilst saying "I know we've worked on this before but .. . "

Needless to say, I have been taking every opportunity to practice I can, despite the full day that both a crazed holiday and being short staffed at work can provide. Unfortunately, my apartment is small and the largest practice space (the living room) is dominated largely by the mountain of presents underneath the tree. Add into that fact that I am convinced if I land the wrong way from a leap, said Christmas tree is going to topple down, smashing a 30 year old ornament collection and possibly started an electrical fire from when the spark from the lights being ripped out of the wall catches on all the shiny gift wrap and dried tree nettles, and home just doesn't seem like a wise place to practice.

That leaves work, cause the Lord only knows, if I'm not at one, I'm usually at the other. I've been pulling a lot of second shifts. Not ideal, but we're in a pinch and all the managers have been taking turns doing the shitty days and the hotel has been painfully un-busy so it's not too bad. Lucky for me, I have keys to our office. This is ideal because not only does it give me access to my desk for work/blogging purposes, it also gives me a small cubicle of space that is not in clear sight of the guests/security cameras, so the whole world and the powers that be (ie, my boss) get to see me practicing my bang-toe-and-toe-hops between checking guests in. Performing on stage - no sweat! Letting my coworkers be privy to me fumbling my way through a new step - not so much. I have a hard time letting my teacher watch me do a step when it's less then perfect, so why would I let them.

It will be alright though. I have determination. . . . .   And a cheat sheet of my steps.

I guess it's just lucky for me the office cameras don't have sounds so no one can ask me what the heck "Switch Skip step hop back hop point hop back" means and why was I singing it in a sing-songy voice

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wait? We're Adults? When did that happen? And how do I make it stop???

So . . . I am an "adult irish dancer". Not so sure I like that title for a plethora of reasons. It's kind of an unfair qualification. Rather discriminatory, really. It's like saying "a woman pilot" or "a male nanny". What difference does it really make that I sign my own emergency release forms when I'm enrolling for the new semester at Dance class. Or that my boyfriend is not my emergency contact, not my mum? Does it make me a less qualified dancer? I mean, I'm not so good yet, but that's not becuase I'm older. Its because I've had a shakey at best dance education up until recently (more on that later) and because I don't practice enough at home. And sure, there are days that I literally want to crawl off the floor at the studio after my hour is up with aching joints and muscles that about ready to mutiny, that the younger crowd might not feel.But I feel that dealing with that makes me even MORE dedicated then those spritely youngsters who look at you groaning on the changing room floor like your ancient, who leave after their hour looking like they just finished reading a book.

Another reason I think I chafe at such distinction is that I never WANTED to be an "Adult" dancer. I've wanted to dance since I was nine. Lancaster County being full of Amish and Hispanic populations has left it to be something of the final frontieer of Irish Dance. York, Philly, Harrisburg, Delaware - they all had schools and were not much more then an hour away. For financial and hodophobic reasons, Mum was never able to get me to any of them. I found a ballet school eventually, that imported a retired Irish dancer to keep the ballerinas occupied between their pointe and modern classes - not much on technique but I learned my sevens and my threes there and made at least one lifelong friend, so I can't complain too much. I was there for a year or so, then had to leave. After high school I found a specifically Irish school, though they weren't competative. For stupid reasons I only danced for 2 years and then dropped out, and then came back 3 years later to discover that they had grown, changed leadership, become certified and had an actual adults class. So, all this drivel to say, that I still have the same spirit, the same urge to dance as I did when I was nine - almost a stronger urge cause its had 15 years or so to stew. I've wanted to be a dancer since I was a child so it's hard to see myself as an "Adult" dancer. And for god's sake, I'm only just turning 24. It's not like I'm 40 and picking up my first pair of ghillies. Not that I'm at all critical of that - chase the dream no matter what age - but you get my point.

And none of this has to do with the fact that I don't consider myself an Adult. I do, very much so. I'm not one of those people that has to cling to their teens with reckless abandon. I quite enjoy being an adult, thank you very much. The way I see it, it actually helps my dancing, when I put aside the excuses. I alone am responsible for getting me to class, enrolling, purchasing supplies, etc. While this may intimidate some, I have learned the only way you can be 100% sure your going to get everything done or get what you want is to do it yourself. I don't have rely on my poor neurotic mother to brave the traffic to take me to class any more. If the budget is tight, I live on PBJ for 2 weeks and pay class fees, cause I can make that descion. Can we make it to that Feis? Why not, it's not like I have 3 siblings and 2 parents scheduals to work around anymore.

But back to the idea that being classified as an "Adult" irish dancer is kind of critical. . . . I'm very lucky. My awesome school doesn't really do the whole "snob" thing. While I haven't socialized too much outside of my own class, I've seen others interact with the younger set. We're not treated like second rate students or whatever. But I know that can happen at competitions and such. I don't one some shirty 16 year old open champ from some other school to scoff, just cause I have a few years on her but am dancing three levels below her. I've read the message board forums where adult competetors talk about how their feisanna can tend to be rather slap dash, etc. And that's just not right. Once I start competitions in the spring, I fully intend to kick ass and take names.

So, this is my blog. It will be my musings, questions, and observations of the ID world, from the already world-weary eyes of a 24 year old Advanced Beginer. I'm sure my perspective will be diffrent from anything else you could ever read. . ..