Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goodbye blue skirt!

So, it was time to return all costume rentals, seeing as the dance year is at a close. I should be more sentimental, I suppose. I was sooo excited all those months to get it. Now . . . not so much. I wish I could pass it off as knowing that I *could* get it back in January during the costume exchange. But I won't be there. Blame it on the leotard. Grown-ass women should not wear skin tight black leotards if they area over 115ilbs. Still, I loved it and it shall be missed. . . .

In other news, class last night was great. I only had to explain my feis boo-boo twice, and I pushed really hard on my steps. Or tried too. I'm pretty sure that the entire room thought I was a complete IDIOT when all of a sudden my hornpipe was completely gone. But I console myself with the fact that my hornpipe rhythm was finally sounding right. This doesn't sound like much, but I have long suspected that has been my major hang up with that darned step. I could never seem to get the timing down right, so it made it impossible to really be able to get my steps to flow correctly, and then when I would screw up, finding the step again was right out. But on the drive home I was drilling the steps in my head, and they finally were coming right, out of my mouth. Now it's just translating that to my feet.

Reel practice went better. I've got 90% of my reel nailed. It used to be 99%, but ever since the new slip jig step, I've been "and-skip-and-skip-step-leap down"ing, instead of "and-skip-and-skip-HOP-FRONT-CLICK"ing. I know which I am SUPPOSED to be doing, and I know that I am doing it wrong, but I seem incapable of changing it. So, must work on that

I am trying, really trying to not get into a bad mentality, what with this move. Part of me just wants to shrug off really trying more on these steps, knowing that I will have to start learning all news ones come January. But I KNOW that is a bad mentality to get into. It would just be a waste, a waste of all I had learned so far, a waste of my current school's time and eventually, a waste of my new school's time, cause lets face it, once I would get into that mental place, I wouldn't leave it quickly. And I have been too lackadaisical with my practicing for this past year as is, and I refuse to just become a hobby-ist.

Work tonight, Thanksgiving next week. Christmas there after, birthday to follow shortly in January, then an interstate move . . . busy days, busy days . . .


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not so much a bang, More of a whimper

Never. Will I. Ever. Overestimate my ability to read a stage schedule. EVER AGAIN.

I had good hopes for this one. I was aiming for bronze. Sure, I wanted golds, but I would have been happy with bronze.

I keep telling myself that it just wasn't supposed to be. That there was a reason I didn't get there in time to dance. Maybe I would have broken a leg, or accidentally kicked some girl in the teeth (well, maybe not the teeth, I think that is overstating my kicking abilities)

It seemed reasonable. The Feis started at nine. There were about ten dances before my first one. Most of them had around 15 dancers in it and the Syllabus said dancers were dancing 2 at a time. So I figured being there right at nine would just be an exercise in hurry up and wait. Rush to get out of the door at dawn. Wait in rush hour traffic. Rush to get parking and get my number and get a spot to camp out with my stuff (we dancers couldn't LIVE if we didn't have piles of stuff). Wait until it's my turn to dance. I thought I was being smart. Get some extra sleep so I feel top notch, leave a little later, and get there right in time for my first dance.

I'll leave being smart to the Ravenclaws from now on. I'm clearly not as good at it as I'd like to be. Needless to say, I was a little irritated, while looking down the stage list and I saw I missed my reel. That was my sure bet. A little cheesed about slip jig, but that second step I still didn't have entirely smoothed out, so no biggie. Treble Jig and Hornpipe are both crossed out too? Well, at least I won't embarrass myself up there with a bunch of nimble fifteen year olds. . . .

This was supposed to be the high note I went out on, before my exit to the mid-west. This was the feis that I wanted to do my school proud in. The one that would live on, once I'm long gone, of the Adult who went to a feis, competed against kids half her age and wiped the floor with them. Granted even if I had gotten there in time, I still wasn't going to be THAT good, but I could have taken pride in the fact that I went and I represented.

As it was, I felt even more disconnected wandering around that crowded feis then I usually do. Every one there knows what they are doing, and I am wandering around, lost, doing my best impersonation of someone who belongs there, but all the while not having a clue. I just felt like the awkward, fat adult dancer that's never really going to get it right.

That feeling will pass. I will get the determination and the drive back. I will stop beating myself up over this at some point . . . maybe by about Wednesday. But, for tonight at least, I am going to drown my low self confidence in peach ice cream and sweet, milky tea.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feis Week

Coyle feis is in two days. Dance performance for an estimated crowd of 500 the night before. Am I ready? SURRRRE.

Actually, I would feel alot better about this weekend if it weren't for two things. First, my shins have been in SCREAMING pain since about Monday. I'm not sure what shin splints feel like, but I hope this is not them. At least, not until next monday, that's all I ask. One more week to abuse my body in the name of my art, and then I can go back to slacking off a little bit. I think my dance bag will be mostly occupied with various forms of painkillers and anti-inflams if I am to survive. Secondly, I had thought I had signed up for Reel, Slip Jig, Treble Jig and Light Jig. But I didn't. I signed up for Reel, Slip Jig, Treble Jig and Hornpipe. And here, two weeks ago, I told my TC, like the tool-bag that I am, that I wasn't doing hornpipe, so we didn't drill that as much. *insert expletive here*

I am kind of excited though. There are four dancers total in my comps. Four is good! It's not the fifteen dancers at Four Provinces, and it's not just me and one other girl like at Celtic Fling. I can handle four. I just hope I don't place fourth. That would kind of suck. Dear God, may I please beat at least ONE person? Kthanxbai .. . .

In other news - I think I have found my new dance school. I mean, it's still pending a class visit and all, but I really like them. And, surprisingly, they are not the one's who had the most impressive website. But the TC actually emailed me back . . . like within a few hours . . . answered all my questoins, seemed friendly and helpful. Add that into the fact that they have a location LITERALLY ten minutes down the road from where I will be at, and that they have super cute/traditional school dresses, and I think I am in love. Furthermore, there was absolutely no hesitation when I mentioned "adult advanced beginner" and "competing in &overs". According to the email I got back, their adult class is made up from a pretty much even mix of older rec dancers and younger former retirees who were getting back into competition. Sounds like it should be a good fit. Now I just need to find an apartment, a church, a favorite cafe and a hobby for the boyfriend - but that would be a different blog's conversation.

Thats it for now I guess. Need to think about getting read for work soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Feis, last feis?

I registered for a feis in November. It's a good way off and I am really hoping I follow through with my practice goals so I can actually place and deserve it. Especially as it might be my last feis for a while. At very least, most likely to be my last feis with my school, which makes me insurmountably sad. I love my school, but I cannot, in all good reason, decide to stay here in PA when there is no job or options here, just for my dance school. A job, a house, a whole life is waiting for me in OH, and a new dance school, which maybe I will love as much, but I somehow doubt it. This is how much I love my school - when I asked my TC if for the three months over the summer that I will be back in state for work after I move, if I may still come to class, just so I can stay in shape, she didn't even hesitate to say "of course" and upped the anty by telling me that they would just drill my new steps with me, rather then try to teach me their steps. <3 x a million. It's that sort of kindness that I can't help but love. . .

Once again, I can't help but juxtapose this situation with how it would be if I were a younger dancer. Moving to another state would be the end of the world as I knew it, and not just in regards to dance class. As an adult, it's just the start of a whole new world, and just then end to a chapter.

At any rate, I am nervous about going to a new school. Nervous that they won't be as nice, that they won't be as patient with me. Nervous that I won't have such cool people in my class. But at the same time there is always hope. New beginnings always have hope.

So, here we go gang, count down to the next feis

Coyle Feis, T-minus 35 days

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Solo Dresses

Disclaimer; I am 2 levels away from earning a solo dress. I am also coming off a month's sabbatical from class, and will be moving to another state in an other three months - all things delaying me getting to a solo dress anytime soon. But I write this blog post anyway, cause I can, cause it's my blog. So ha-ha, deal with it..

I don't get these new dresses. I really don't. Call my old school, call me narrow minded, but if I had wanted to wear a tutu, I would have joined ballet. And ruffles? Really? Are we going to a feis or to a barn dance?

Now, don't get me wrong, I have seen some super modern, ruffled/cupcake/plisse/ra-ra skirted, asymmetrical dresses that are rather pretty. And I am not entirely against the whole soft skirt movement. But here is what is holding me up. I fell in love with Irish dance dresses, when I fell in love with the dance itself. The gorgeous Celtic knotwork, the elegant pleats and panels that seem to flow with the dance. You just don't get the same movement ascetic with a puffball as you do with a panel.

But I will be the first to admit, the drab dark velvets had to go. But did the whole Irish Dance world have to go from one extreme to another. Neon? Really? This isn't the early 1990's anymore, day-glo is no longer in . . .

In some ways, I envy highland dancers. A dancer cannot be looked down upon because her dress is 'outdated' cause, well, they are all wearing the same style, give or take. And this isn't about "tradition" cause I know as well as anyone else, that the style of dresses I prefer isn't that historical and that ID dresses have been ever-evolving. But when did they start evolving into these eyesores, that we sit by and call pretty?

I am convinced, now, more then ever that the world of Irish dance dresses needs me. I have a notebook full of drawings that I would live to be able to make come to life. There has to be a happy compromise. Modern fabrics and bright colours, with out loosing touch with the roots. Keep something IRISH looking about the dresses. Maybe with all this free time I have on my hands with my new-found unemployment, I could start experimenting. Now if only I could find somebody interested in being a test subject, since I am not ready to have a dress of my own yet.

All I know is when I get the okay to have a solo, the drawing is ready, waiting to come to life. And when I get up on stage I KNOW my dress will stand out - not because it's a brighter shade of orange then the next girls, not because it is covered in rhinestones, not because the skirt is fluffier - but because it will be simple and elegant, and flattering and there won't be anything even possibly close to animal print or stretch velvet near it! And God forbid! There will be knotwork on it. Traditional Irish art that has meaning for me and represents who I am. And who I am  is not represented by a butt-bow and tulle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Doing, not writing . . .

So, it's been a while. Once again, being an adult with a full time job, a summer part time job (both with life absorbing hours) as well as some semblence of a family life to juggle into the mix has kept me from doing more regular updates. Moving into a new apartment with no internet also doesn't help. But that is a moot point.

I'll jump right in here though; I think my dancing is in a rut. I've been attending classes regularly (missed the last 2 due to a camping trip) and practicing where I can. I got all Silver and Golds at my last feis - but don't get too excited, there were only 2 of us dancing. I can do most of my steps all the way through, with minimal or only occasional mess ups. This all sounds great. But I feel like I am not doing as well as I should be, at least not if I want to get to the level I want to be. If any of that makes any sense or is even remotely grammatically correct.

I feel like I've got sooo much going against me here. I've packed on a few extra pounds the last few weeks, which is going to make launching myself into those leaps even harder. I have NO time to practice, nor a good place to try. There is definitly MORE space in the new flat, but I'm still second floor, and don't want to anger my downstairs neighbors.And the once place that I would have easy-ish acsess too that would make a decent practice space isn't there any more. And work is always making me SO tired. I don't get days off this time of year, so that any spare moment I have, I want to sit and watch a movie with the Darling Boy, or maybe go hang out with friends. And even if I was practicing and getting my technique where it needed to be - I can't feis again until November. So that means no chance of actually getting a deserved medal, no judges comments, no more stage exposure to kill the last of the competition-frights.

This isn't burn out I am feeling - it's stagnation. I have the urge, the desire, the chutzpa, and whatever other things are missing during a season of burn out. I just am stuck and am currentlys seeing no way to become unstuck. Getting into a Solo dress seems soooo far away right now. This is totally one of those times I can't help but feel this would have been so much easier in my teens. I had no social life, no job, and after school hours were completly empty, waiting to be filled.

My school recently did a performance at my old High School (or rather the Church that sponsers/houses my old High School), and I think I am a little resentful and a little mad at myself for not being at the level needed for that show. I wanted to take all the achieved potential and show it off to the place where I had such stiffled potential. But I hadn't actually achieved it.

It's little things getting to me too. My ghillies don't fit me well enough, so my point always looks off. My hardshoes, despite having had them the better part of ten years STILL aren't broken in. My water bottle developed a leak and haven't gotten around to getting a new one. All my practice clothes are getting too snug for me (re; packing on a few pounds, as mentioned earlier)

So here I stand, heel to toe, waiting for the count in to get me the heck out of this funk . . . .

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Feis Results and Cardiac Freak-outs

So - My first Feis, as I am sure you know by now, was on Sunday. I won't flatter myself that you have all been sitting around on tenter-hooks waiting for my results, so I will keep this brief. . . . . I tanked.

My nervous breakdown the night before seemed to have had cleared up nicely by the crack of dawn - which I saw, incidentally, having to wake up as early as I did. I felt well rested, despite having been up til midnight trying to finish learning my second slip jig step. The trip was smooth and we arrived early. Got the wig on, did a little make up, then piled inside and quickly gloamed onto the first people from school that I knew, who were incidentally, dancing in my comps. We all got ready, and compared stage schedules.

We'll put it this way, nerves didn't hit until I was lining up for the Reel competition. I managed to keep my knees from buckling out from under me, but according to the darling Boy, you could see my wig vibrating, even if you couldn't tell I was shaking! I managed to get through first step, then realized that I was right in front of the judge and freaked out, and totally forgot my second step.

Slip jigs didn't go much better. In fact, kind of the same. First step went flawlessly, second . . .not so much. I totally did great on my Light Jig. Not that I placed. Or that I needed to place..

So all in all, I was disappointed, but not surprised. I went,  I got up, I danced and I had fun! I learned what to expect and have a better idea of what to push myself on before next Feis in June. I also found consolation in my scores from the Judges. I was literally only a point away from 3rd place in Light Jig, and the judge said I had nice lifts! Reels, I needed to be on my toes more, but again, was only like 2 points away from third. Slip jigs were further behind, four points from third, but considering less then 14 hours previous to competing I didn't even KNOW the step, I won't complain about a fourth out of nine!

So first class post-competition was tonight, right? And I was going over my scores with my TC, and she agreed, considering how nervous I was, my scores weren't bad. However, I also expressed the fact that I REFUSE to do as badly at the next Feis.

With this determination, and a few encouraging words from the teacher, I start pushing hard through my treble reel. I mean, pushing HARD. And about half way through I started having that old familiar wheezy painful feeling in my chest that I haven't felt in like five years. Since before my heart surgery. Like I seriously had to walk out of class. Now before we all start panicking about my cardiological state, calm down! Don't PANIC! It wasn't as nearly as bad as it used to get. Like, not even a fraction of what it used to be. But the fact that I felt it freaked me out a bit and it took me a little while to get it together again. And then there was the whole brief explanation to my poor teacher who I literally walked out on right while she was talking to me. I forgot how shocked people get when I drop the "I had heart surgery five years ago" bomb. It just shook me up a bit. Medically speaking, my heart just can't handle going from 0-60 in 8 bars of music. I need to warm up. Build up slowly.

Anyhoo. . .  class kicked my butt tonight. But I am glad it did. I felt I worked hard, and despite the MASSIVE pain I'm in now (legs, feet, shoulder, knees . . .) I think and feel like it was worth it. And the best part is that I know that this is one thing that wouldn't have been any easier as a kid. My stage fright would have been a THOUSAND times worse. I was socially awkward and shy. And before my surgery, I wouldn't have made it through a class like that without collapsing. So . . . perks to being a adult. YAH!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We have sock glue, can we have wig glue?

So class both managed to soothe my wracked nerves and remind me of how much I have to get done in less then three days.

First of all, my decision to NOT compete in hardshoe this time round = brilliant. It's endurance week and I tanked in treble jig and hornpipe. So, breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't over estimate my skills.

After practicing all day today, I am proud to announce that I can no somewhat successfully dance my second slip jig - on the right foot. So, I am at least 50% closer on that

The whole light jig paranoia - So I do know light jig. Like could probably do it in my sleep. But I am still wondering - how? All my other steps have a certain travel path around the stage. I am pretty sure I've never done anything other then stand there and 'cross-out' four times . . .

I also, last night, did a trial run of the whole costume, with wig. It's a pretty decent look. My butt definitly looks a little 'fluffier' then I'd like, and hopefully I can shed some water weight so the leotard doesn't look so bad. On the wig side of things, it looks great . .  now if I can just get it to stay ON my head. I'm not sure bobby pins will cut it. Is super-gluing my wig to my head a viable option?

  T-minus 83 hours folks . . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Don't Panic

Those words are always on the home screen of my cell phone. In bright yellow letters. But nothing, nothing is going to keep me from panicking at this point. It's Monday, 8:45pm. My feis starts 8:30am on Sunday. And suddenly, an icy cold terror is washing over me. . . .I don't think I know the light jig I'm supposed to know!!!

I mean it was bad enough. Up until today the only thing I had to worry about was my most feared and challenging foe, the Slip Jig. Reel and Light jig, no problem! Couple practice run throughs, maybe some technique polishing and no worries! It was just that damned Slip Jig, my enemy of old.

But looking over step notes I nearly choke on my tongue when what the print out my teacher gave me says something completely different when it comes to the Light Jig than I know - AT ALL!!! I mean, at least I know the first slip jig step and maybe can fake my way through the second step, but this - this is pure, unadulterated PANIC!!

Do kids deal with this paranoia - cause really, this is killing me. I mean, I think kids have it easy. Their parents register them for the feis after some brief consultation with the TC maybe.And then the kid just wakes up day of arrival and sits in the car with the only thing to worry about  is whining, "are we there yet?" I, on the other hand have to worry about mapquest directions, finding parking, estimating gas usage. I can't just worry about the dancing, oh no. . . I also don't have a parent to worry about getting there on time, registering, making sure I get to the right stage at the right time, whether or not my costume looks good, or if my wig is on straight. The best I have is a beloved and beleaguered boyfriend, who won't be much help, despite his best efforts.

All I can say is that there is one perk to being an adult, and having to be my own feis mom - I get to have a TALL pint of Guinness when this is all over . . .

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shopping List

One of my teachers on Wednsday night recommended I get new ghillies. The ones I bought in September are still breaking in and it's still kind of hard to point my toe correctly in them. It was put forward to me that if I can't curl my toes under at this point, I'll never be able to, and it might just be that they are the wrong size. This may just be. And honestly, at this point, if all it would take to make my feet look prettier would be a new pair of shoes, then it would be well worth it.

But here's the thing . . . I just had to buy a new car. Car insurance raised accordingly. Gas prices continue to do their best Plunkett & Macleane impersonation. Oh, yeah and all this is in addition to eating and having a roof over my head. Y'know. The same ol' story.

And of course, after having done hours upon hours of research into diffrent brands/makes/styles of shoes, it would of course have to be the most expensive style out there that will actually maybe help the sad little shape of my foot. I mean, I could buy a cheaper pair, but it would be really more of the same, wouldn't it?

And frankly, if The Boy finds out that there is one thing to add to my already expansive Dance related shopping list, he might have a coronary and die.

Speaking of the list, here is just a sample;

- Sock Glue - sounds so trivial, but I need some and I can think of a million other things those $10 could be used for.
- New Sports bra - I've got 2. They work ok. But one itches and the other is starting to stretch out.
- tank for under my leotard - cause I will be damned if I am going to stay zipped up in a long-sleeved turtle-neck creation of Satan in a huge crowd between dances.
- Make-up - cause I spent $50 on getting "good" make-up from Sephora, only to have it be TOTALLY not my colour. Fail Sephora, Fail.
- Number holder thinger - cause something so small really can be that important.
- Back up poodle socks - I've got my dingy old pair, my shiny new pair, but I still fear getting to the Feis and realizing that I am in fact sockless.
- Atheltic Sandals - I finally found my dream pair at target, and they are only $16. Problem is, they are $16. If I can't justify $10 for sock glue, how can I swing $16 for sandals.

and thats just the larger items. I still need all the fussy little stuff. Bobby pins, saftey pins, a new bottle of ibuprofen, maybe some elastoplasts, new filter for my water bottle. . . .

I'm thinking of setting up Charitable Trust to fund poor Irish dancers, lol . . . your donation of poodle socks will be tax deductable. . .


Friday, April 15, 2011

On surviving Saint Patrick's Month, my first wig, a class with the youngsters, and the 17 day countdown to my first Feis

So . . . been a while since I posted here. Alot has happened, both in dance and the reality I am forced to live in whilst not obsessing over all things dance related.

The month of March flew by faster then it had any right too. It's been said that, for an Irish dancer, the month of March is like trial by fire, and that you can't truely boast about being a dancer until you've survived the multiple performance, etc. Well I did. Not saying I was any good, but I survived. Here is the break down;
- Mall Food Court Performance - Skipping over the fun highway conversations en route, and circling the parking garage for 20 minutes, the performance itself was . . . interesting. I learned alot. Like I need to pin my skirt to my shorts or else it rides way up. Also, that I need to wear shorts, cause otherwise it looks like my butt is eating my leotard, but that might just be TMI. Needless to say, it is gloriously unfair. I'm sure the 8 year olds don't have these problems. The dancing itself was ok. A few basic flubs I mostly managed to cover. There was of course that one though, sliding on the slick floor and nearly wiping the entire four hand out. But hey, our audience was mall employees, disinterested lawyers and this one flock of Indian business men who seemed befuddled by our shenanigans, so really, it was ok.

-Capital Parade and Pub Show - first of all, let me just take a moment to say, whenever I am worried about getting lost or not being able to find parking, remind me to temper that with a fear of being the only person from my group there. Girls from one of the other schools kept giving me the stank eye, like I didn't belong there. Can we say awkwaaard . . .  Secondly, if it's warm and sunny and still in the little valley of apartment buildings I  live in, it most likely is sunny, warmish but with an arctic breeze running through the streets of the capital. Dance shorts and leotard with no coat is not considered ok for warmth. Despite this all, it was strangely fun. Pub show was a blast. Crowded, loud and dancing down aisles and trying not to kick beers off tables. Just the way I've always imagined dancing. Indulged in what I considered a well deserved drink with some classmates after we were done dancing. Thats one of the perks of being an adult dancer. :D After that was the long lonely haul home.

The next week there was a retirement home performance. The highlights of which were completely forgetting my second slip jig AND second reel step, actually interacting with people I don't know, and the gentleman falling asleep in his front row seat. The last performance of the month going out with a snore instead of a bang.

Next in this tale, dear readers, was yet another installation in the should I/shouldn't I in the wig saga. There was a wig for sale. It was the right colour. It was the right price. It was used (which oddly enough was something I wanted, go figure). And even though it was a full wig, it wasn't one of those terribly popular styles that looks like a poodle died on your head, or, even worse, looks like it was styled by Fran Drescher!  So, after looking at my perfect set of soft spike curlers with longing (but knowing in my heart that my hair is just not long enough yet to curl), I sent the check. I am not going to say that I am in love. I still exponentially LOVE the look of real curls. But in the end, having experimented with both sides, I have to say the benefits of wigging it are lovely. And even though I used to hate how much wig curls bounced, I now love wearing my wig and skipping up and down the hallway so I can feel it swish and bounce. Go figure.

This month, I am making up four classes I've missed over the winter. This means taking a class with the wee ones. Luckily there was a gangly teen boy so I wasn't the tallest person in the class. That actually means alot. It was amazing though. Some advice one of you, my lovely readers, gave me was put into action. When kids dance, they just do it. They don't over think it, and just so I didn't get run over, I had to do the same. Just shut the brain up and move it. There weren't five million water breaks. There wasn't as much dying for breath. There was just dance. It was kind of priceless. I'll be doing a second class again this week and I'm strangely looking forward to it. It was like their energy was contagious. I have since been trying to carry that mentally into my adult class, and it's been going pretty well. But I'm doing another make up class this week, so hopefully that will help too.

And now, having survived parking lot escapades, road trips and freezing breezes,  forgotten steps and fake curls, I am facing the biggest, scariest challenge yet. My first feis. We're at about the 2 week mark, and I don't feel nearly ready, but more on that later .. .

Trying to sum this all up barely does justice to the barely contained chaos it felt like while getting through it. Everyday I do something dance related the question breifly crosses my mind - 'what am I getting into here'. In a bad economy, I decide to pick up an incredibly expensive hobby. A girl who spent her entire life up to her early twenties not allowed to do more then five minutes of cardo at a time is now spending 1.5 hours at a time pushing every limit physically. I, every day, realize that I can't recapture my youth. I look at the kids at my school and I envy them the friendships and team spirit they are building. I didn't get to belong to anything at their age. While I can feel the achievement and fraternity of dance, its not going to be what they feel, and that has its bittersweet moments. But here's the thing, when I get to honestly say to people "I am an irish dancer", peace washes over me. When I am tapping a treble jig under my desk at work and the rhythm is coming out just right. . . .  Dancing hurts, physically. Muscles ache, knees click, ankles roll, shins are kicked. That's the cross every adult dancer has to bear. But, for me at least, it hurts my spirit not to dance. And that wins against every challenge

Sorry for the ramble. To much to say, and too little time. Til later, people,

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Performance in T-48 hours

So, march is here.
My school is booked for at least ten different "St. Patrick's Day" performances. I am signed up to participate in three. I thought I was clever though. I made my first performance for the second week of March so I would have a week or so to redouble my efforts and practice lots in preparation.

This excellent plan would have been fail proof had I not come down with a nasty chest cold for the entirety of that week. At least three days were spent coughing, wheezing and sleeping. So, now my first performance - of the season, and of my new dance career- is Wednesday. It's Monday Night.

I'm screwed.

Besides being a week without practice, I look like a sausage spilling out of it's casing in the god-awful leotard I have to wear under my floofy blue skirt. Can't do much on that subject, but I was hoping for more time to wrap my head around being seen in public like that.

Then there is my hair. I fought for months, curlers vs. wig. In the end, I went with my gut. I hate wigs, I didn't want one, so I got the curlers. After a miserable self curling experience, I had one of my teachers show me how to curl properly. And when I took those spikes out of my hair, I had the most beautiful, shiny, soft and charming ringlets I could ever dream of. There was just one teensy problem to ruin my curled bliss. My normally shoulder length hair, when put into tight ringlets, looks like I have a ringlet-fro. Yep, The curls were barely an inch off of my head.

So now I have little over a day to loose 20 pounds, become infinitely better at dancing AND to find somewhere in po-donk PA to buy a wig.

What am I getting myself into???

Wish me luck gang - this is going to be a fun few days!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bad Night

Just who do I think I'm kidding. Myself, I guess.

I can't even do 2 reel steps in beginner's time without tripping over my own feet. I can buy the shoes, and the outfit and read all the articles and practice, but in the end, why do I feel this compulsive need to be good?

I mean, I'm not thinking of giving it up, but why can't I just dance for fun. Go to the ceili's, do some performances and get out of the house once a week. Why do I feel this compulsive need to accomplish what I never got to do as a kid.

Compete? Who am I kidding? I can barely get through 8 bars. Compete in &Overs? Even more ludicrous! I will be up there with young, fit, active 14 year olds. And look at me, 24, didn't exercise a day in her life until a few months ago, and just on the north side of chubby. Of course I can't get that leap as high as it needs to be. I am trying to launch alot of pounds into the air. No, I can't turn out more - I have a thigh in the way.

And maybe I am being to hard on myself. Maybe I'm just having a bad night. I know I am NOT going to give up this easily. But right now, I am beginning to wonder if I'm just nuts.

Not 2 days ago I boldly asserted "I am an advanced beginner and I just registered for my first feis. Open Championship, here I come."

. . . . .Open Championship never seemed so far away

Friday, February 4, 2011


So, I've stated this many times, but let me put it out there in written word, on the internet - I hate wigs.

I will grant you, I've seen some nicer ones and that some people look ok in them, but for the most part I regard them as one of the worst things to ever hit the irish dance scene. I won't argue the "they don't look natural" case, cause even though they don't, neither does hair that has been curled and has so much product in it that the Ozone is thinking of a nice vacation to mars. I will venture to say, cosmetically altered hair does look more legit then a wig that is so shiney (since it's made out of nylon) that if the sun hits it the wrong way it could blind the audience. My main argument is that they are ugly. Sorry, wig-fans. I think the things are atrocious. On my more maliced filled days, I can come up with all sorts of crazy analogies for what they look for, but such pontificating would be moot.I just don't like them. Just my opinon. Whatev.

But, as an adult dancer, I don't have a parent who will gladly sit for two hours and put my hair in soft spikes. And while I trust The Boy with my life, I don't know if I trust him with my hair. A wig would be the most common solution, but y'know me - can't do things the easy way.

My solution; A spiral perm.

It worked really well. When they were done rinsing me and my hair dried, I looked like I was ready to go do a slip jig. My hair couldn't get more poodle like and curly. Even after a few weeks and it started to relax some, all I need to do was scrunch up my hair with some Curls-Up gel, and voila! I didn't even mind having feis head on a daily basis. I've always longed for ringlets, despite my hair being like corn-silk - limp and straighter then straight. Having body in my hair actually worked for a daily kind of life.

But now, two months later, my perm is almost at it's end. I can actually brush my hair again. And I'm starting to realize - I kinda miss my straight hair. The Boy has said that he misses my straight hair. So, I'm honestly thinking of not re-perming. At least not for now.

But now is the early start of Feis season. Saint Paddy's is right around the corner. NOW is when I need the curls. So, I'm back to square 1. I prefer the look of curled hair, but I don't have the resources to get it curled every time I perform or compete.

So I guess my final question is, to wig or not to wig.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Small Blessings

So, I've been having a crummy string of luck.3 weeks ago I couldn't go to my schools Holiday Ceili, cause I was sick,  2 weeks ago, I crashed my car and couldn't make it to class that week. The week after, classes were closed due to a giant snow storm. Missing class 2 weeks in a row = AGONY! Missing the ceili just adds insult to injury!

But then came a parents meeting/costume exchange/merchandise night at school. Desperate to just get out the house, and because I am trying to be the best I can at being responsible self-parenting dancer, I went. Got there mad early and that old familiar friend of social awkwardness and feeling of displacement settled in quick.

I knew NO ONE there. Remember, I haven't been very social since starting class again, and it didn't help that none of the other adult students were there. The place was swarming with kids, waiting patiently for their parents, but occasionaly tossing glances at me, assumbly trying to figure out who I was and why I was there. At least, thats how it felt at the time. Now, I'm pretty sure that a flock of 6-9 year olds don't really care about much outside of their DVD and their practicing of dance steps.

So, the meeting for the Advanced Beginers starts. Just like I'm back in High school, I park it third row from the back to not draw attention (last row makes you stick out, and front row puts you directly in line of sight). The meeting, while not unimportant, consists mainly of reminding parents to make sure kids knot laces tightly enough, and to not drop the munchkins off late for class. While people still make fun of me for doing double bunny ears instead of a single loop, I think I've got double knotting my shoes down pretty well, thanks.

Just as the meeting is almost at an end, one of the new girls in my class scurries in and back to the area where our shoe/wig/lovely goodness retailer has set up shop. We smile and wave discreetly, so as not to disrupt the TC, and I breath a small sigh of relief. At least I'm not the only one there without a small squadron of children in tow.

After the meeting closing of a standard "no jeans to be warn to class" reminder, I too make my way to the other half of the studio, where things feel less like home room, and more like theater week. My friend is in the corner, trying on her first pair of real ghillies - bless! - and looks just as confused as anyone would when trying to figure out why that is supposed to be the right size when you can barely shove your foot into it. We chit-chat, express out gladness that there is someone else there that we know, and I give her what small advice I can on how shoes fit, etc. But, my main reason to attend that night was to pick up some practice music, socks and gaff tape from the vendor and suss out what I was doing about a costume.

After spending far more money then I really should have (2 new cds, a lovely soft new pair of poodles, and a feck-off big roll of gaff tape later), I start to wander towards the "costume exchange" section of the room.

Thank God! My class's teacher is behind the stage-sized table, covered in ruffly blue skirts, switching one out for others in different sizes and making sure girl's buts are covered. Once she gets a moment, I cut in line and after perfunctory hellos and "sorry I've missed class" pleasantries, I ask her the fated question. Do I get to wear the same beginer's school outfit as all the other Advance Beginers, or am I permanantly resigned to the simple black A-line, just cause I'm over the age of 18? Her answer was simple, "whatever you want". Apparently it was just that easy. Her logic was if I plan on doing alot of the performances, parades and what-not, it makes more sense for me to be dressed like everyone else, unless I don't feel comfortable in a shortish blue ruffly skirt. When I told her that I planed on doing all that and lots of competitions, she practically skipped for joy! Have I mentioned that I LOVE my dance school.

Anyhoo, with the WHAT sorted out, I head down to the table the booster club ladies have set up to handle all costume payments and such. I get to chit chatting - awkwardly at first, as this is ME after all - and after going over rental costs and stuff, they highly recommend I get both the skirt and order the leotard today, so that way I have everything in time for St. Paddy's day. They also highly recommend the school colours headband.

Well, one down side to being an adult is that I don't have a parent to go run to and pull a shuppy lip on to ask for the $5 dollars to buy the head band. The way this works is you just add the five bucks into the costume rental fee. While I ran to The Boy earlier that week to make sure that we had enough for the costume rental, I had no idea that the headbands were going to be available that night too, so we had planned accordingly and got a money order for just the right amount for the outfit, not the acsessories. Finally, after finding a skirt that fit, and getting measured for a leotard (still not sure about that to be honset) and getting suckered into volunteering to help out with the rest of the costume sizing and sorting, I went back with my paperwork, to surrender up my money order to the booster club. When one of the kind ladies there made mention of the fact that I was just getting the outfit, no headband, I shrugged it off nonchalantly and casually explained that we had budgeted precisely for the costume, and I had already gone over the budget with the socks/music/gaff tape purchase, so i would have to purchase one later down the road. The smiled and nodded sympathetically, and that seemed like that.

Ducking outside for a quick second to wake up the boy - again - and tell him I'd be later getting home, I am surprised when, not a few minutes into my call, one of the other students - younger then me, in her teens, pretty sure close to if not already well into prelims, with whom I've never spoken a word in my life - comes running out with a big smile on her face, and a headband in hand.

Seeing I'm on the phone, she quietly hands it too me and says that someone bought it for me. Confused, my responses was something as articulate as "huh?" She smiles again, and says the one lady I was talking to decided to get it for me, since I couldn't, so I would have the whole outfit. At this point I am ignoring The Boy on the other end of the phone, who's cranky with me for waking him up. Much to the girl's amusement, I ask her once again to repeat, and after she finishes the story once more, I am left without words. I stammer out something along the lines of "wow. thanks. really? wow. thanks" I ask her who it was, so I may go thank them in person and she just smiles more, and says the person doesn't want me to know who it was.

This has left me floored. Now, four days later, I'm still getting misty eyed over it. Such a little thing, but such a big thing. What, sweet, unpretentious kindness. The cynics amoungst us say "it was only $5", but thats not the point. It's the value, not the cost that is important. Someone, out of the kindness of their heart decided to buy something for me, ME, a complete stranger, just so I would feel included and like I belonged. All of a sudden the whole night changed. I was running errands for the poor frazzled teachers, and standing around chewing the fat with people like it was nothing.

It's funny sometimes. I think God sort of used me that night to help the new girl feel less overwhelmed (despite the fact that I myself felt just as much so) and he blessed me for it many times more. Its funny, because it wasn't even something I had thought I'd miss. Just a head band, I could do up my hair without it, it hardly was nessicary, I'd pick one up later - it never crossed my mind that the costume wouldn't feel right with out it. But I am sure, that if I had gotten home and that wonderful person who made me fall even more in love with Irish Dance HADN'T performed that small kindness for me, I wouldn't have been nearly as excited. I wouldn't have put the whole outfit on again and again since then, tearing up and down my flat's hall, terrifying the cats.

So, whichever of the wonderful ladies it was who, without thinking, gave such a gift to me - I only hope I someday either get to repay the favor direct to you, or at least sometime, pass it on. It meant the world to me. Thank you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Steps, new energy

My school is new. Not like brand new, but only a few years old in it's offical CLRG-ness. As such, the TC and her assistant TCs are often rearranging steps, choreographies, ect. Phasing out "old" steps (from our pre-comission days) and putting in new stuff.

Usually, new steps mean I get more confused because out of either muscle-memory or just stupidity, I always revert to doing old steps instead of the new, even though I mentally know the new. Let me sidetrack for a sec here and clue you all into the fact that my treble reel has ALWAYS been rough. I had just started learning it before my 4-year hiatus and it was still shakey. Then I came back and the step was diffrent then how I remembered it - part of that whole "we're offical now" step changing thing.

So, while I was slowly but surely learning all my other hard shoe stuff, that one was just giving me a heck of a time. But then, a miracle happened. This week in class, my teacher decided to phase our first treble reel step into a new one. And I don't know if it's just a fresh start idea - that instead of trying to remember what I already know, I can just learn something new from the begining - or if it's just an easier variation of the step.

It left me with a good feeling after class. That maybe that goal of placing well in my competitions isn't so silly of an idea. And that spark of hope makes me want to work harder. The day after class I spent half an hour at the fitness centre at my complex. I'm staying after at work a little today to use the equipment here. If I can get my stamina up, it will help me be able to push through the form into my steps more. I feel like so often I am so worried about just getting through the step, that I slack. Or worse, I'm so winded after going through the whole first step of whatever that by halfway through the next I'm barely picking my feet up off the floor.

I want more strength too. If that 3 peice home gym weight system wasn't so damn scary and confusing looking, I'd probably use that too.

As it is, we'll see how it goes. I think any progress to that First place is good progress, even if it's small.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Class Back

Last night was my first class back after my 2 week winter break. It was also the first class in the new day/time. I wish I could say that leaving right from work and getting there half an hour early was my only problem. . ..

So, because of the day/time shift, the class has changed exponentially. Some of the girls I had hit it off with are now in a diffrent class. And then, some of the ones that I had been having a harder time finding comfortable around are still there. And then there are the "new" people. 2 of them are absolute beginners, bless them! I remember those days - when I first started I thought I would NEVER be able to do a proper Sevens. Then, it seems we've gotten an influx of Novice Dancers. Actually, as I think this was origianlly the Novice time spot, maybe us Beg/Adv.Beg's are the influx. Either way, I'm now sharing a class with 2 more Novice Dancers. Usually, I don't mind this. Since there are so few Adults, we've always had a few Nov. in with us. But for some reason, having 2 more really, reeeeallly good dancers in the class has unsettled me. It used to be that I enjoyed watching the higher levels take their turn in drills as it would give me something to aspire too. The new girls just make me feel clumsy and straw-footed. Not intentionally! At least I don't think so. I think it's just my perception.

We did alot ALOT of drills in class. Good. I need that. What is not good is the fact that the realization dawned on me that I SUCK!! I've be practicing my turn out and crossover so much, but then when I actually put it into motion, I just can't keep it perfect. My posture is never quite right, and m balance - I honestly feel like I am going to tip over! I can't launch myself high enough into the air - there is just so much I CAN'T do. I know with practice, I can fix most of this, it's just an awful lot to be facing down the barrel of and it makes me start to question if I should even be doing this - maybe I'm just not cut out to be a dancer.

I'm not that fatalistic. Everything is what you make it. Good things happend. Despite being the only tool-bag in class that could do their 1st Hornpipe step right, my TC told me what I was doing wrong. So I'm glad for that. I think what gets me, is, well (and God forgive me for saying this, cause it's going to sound catty) I'm the second worst in the class. And that's so not where I want to be. I don't want to be one of the remedial students any more.

So I guess the only option is Practice, Practice, Practice, as always. Just have to try and find where I left my patience, patience, patience. . .

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I was just a touch incapacitated yesterday, so, only a day late, I am posting my Irish Dance resolutions.
The following is a list of things I am DETERMINED to improve, achieve or accomplish.

1; Improve my turnout - I've complained about it before, and sure when you have thighs as wide as mine, it makes that whole heel to heel, straight foot, heels pressed out thing kind of difficult to do without tipping over. Being slightly top heavy also doesn't help this (oy to the veh to be young and svelt again!) but it is completely accomplishable. Solution;  I have now taken to standing around in either first or second position no matter where I am. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea New Years eve with a fair amount of Bailey's in me (read above about tipping over), but hey, practice, practice, practice . . .

2; Increase Stamina - after having been back in class for four months now, I still don't have the energy I had when I had left four years ago. This may have to do with the 15 pounds I packed on. It may have to do with my crummy diet. But this too, is easily achievable. Solution; Add a little extra cardio in my week outside of class, and eat a more well rounded diet - things I should do for reasons other then dance too, so my resolve should be doubled.

3; Get more involved in class - let's face it. I am not a social person. I love socializing, sure, but I don't really do too well with the whole new people new situation. And sure I've been spending 1.5 hours with these people once a week for 16 weeks, but I'm lucky if I even remember their names. And sure, I've started getting a little more chatty and friendly, but I've yet to really make friends. It won't kill me to ask one of the others in the class if I can't remember what foot is going back and which is kicking.  Solution; Stop being such a gosh darned quiet wall flower! For the love of God, we all know I can talk like nobodies business!

So, all the above were the warm up, now comes the biggie that is least likely to happen

4; Place in my first Feis - I'm not settling for one of those dinky little "participation award" that will just sit around and clutter up the apartment. If I'm going to have trivial little knick-knacks lying around, they better mean something! I know, this is shooting high. I know, currently, I stand little to no chance of this. But if I follow through with 1-3 of the resolutions, I might just be able to pull this off.  The thing is, I don't want to be one of those adults that is just doing this for fun. There's nothing wrong with that, but that's not for me. I am having so much fun pushing myself to be better every class. I get giddy just thinking about placing high in competitions. I have dreams about qualifying to get my own Solo dress. So, I've got to bring it at any feis I attend, I intend to attend alot. . . .

So, stay tuned to track my progess on this all.
Slainte for 2011 all!