Sunday, December 9, 2012

Irish Dance and Money

Here we go again everyone.

I seem incapable of holding a job for any extended amount of time. Luckily, I am *finally* employed again, but I'm 2 months behind on class fees, haven't been to class since October, and will most likelly not be able to go to the feis that I've being eyeing up for the new year, cause registration opened last week, and it is already almost filled, and it will be another three weeks or so until I have bounced back from the financial drought. Yet another thing that sucks being an adult I guess. I mean, I know it sucks as a kid when you can't dance cause your parents can't afford it (been there, done that) but as an adult it sucks a fair bit more. You have money in your hands, but you know it needs to be spent a million other ways. At least as a kid, you just have absolutely no control over the situation and can at least be a little petulant about it.

The feis thing is really bothering me today. I was so looking forward to this one. It is LITERALLY a half hour away from my front door! I mean, none of this waking up at the crack of dawn and driving 2 hours crap. And I was feeling pretty confident in my new steps, up until this new hiatus, after a year of starts and stops. My TC must think I am a nut case.

This may sound silly, but has anyone ever thought of setting up an Irish Dance "Scholarship"? Obviously, I am not looking for myself, but I'm just reminded how many tears I shed growing up because I wanted to dance soooo badly, but my parents could barely afford to feed me, none the less indulge my passion for an expensive hobby. Maybe once I am filthy rich I will start one. Or maybe, just once I am solidly employeed again, I will start one. I can't see it being too hard. Start a paypal/bank/whatever kind of account for any monetary donations that would go towards tuition and feis fees. Maybe give money to kids nominated by classmates or friends, etc. Maybe after a while, also have an items donation section. Any used shoes, dresses, etc, that are no longer needed. Instead of selling, donate! Of course, I don't see many being willing to part with their kids $2000 Gavin that was only worn twice before they out grew it, but maybe that first solo from a few years back that they haven't been able to sell yet. . . . I have seen, witnessed and felt so much good will amongst the ID community that I can't help but feel that something like this could catch on. I think I have heard of similar stuff on school level, etc, at least for like shoes and such but I think it would be really neat if it was a universal kind of thing.

Anyway . . . . one more dance related dream that I never seem able to pull off . . . .I will just add it to the list.

I've been trying to practice and work out while I am still out, so that I am not knocked back onto my ass, once I am back at class, but who am I trying to kid? I have a hard time drilling myself even when I am in class. I was looking through youtube vids and pics from all the different region's Oireachtas and I saw a girl, not sure what reigion, who was maybe in the U16 crowd (? I am terrible at guessing age since the wigs and make-up tend to age kids) who was SOOO high on her toes, I seriously questioned for a second if I should just quit now while I remain mostly uninjured! I love the competitive nature of Irish, and the constant changing, but I don't remember dancers being that tippy-toed ten years ago. I, no matter how hard I work, will NEVER be able to go that high on my toes. My feet just aren't built for it. And If I try, the money invested will skyrocket even more, cause of the intense medical bills that I will have to pay for - maybe my Irish Dance charities should also include a medical donation! So anyway, with this nauseatingly beautiful photo of a girl who is so remarkably talented, I can't help but wonder if it's worth it. And then, I smack myself and say, "yes, yes it is" cause it makes me so DAMNED happy. Better then a gym, better then a therapist, better then, dare I say it? Cheesecake???


Guess that is it for now, everyone, anyone who still may be listening.


I am going to try and do the whole goal thing, in preperation of the New Years resolutions, that I always forget to make

Goal for the week; Drink more water. At least 1 glass a day (hey, cut me some slack, I need to start small! I HATE drinking water)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dancing with Depression

Dancing is hard. It takes determination, strength, courage and a slew of other bold and cliche epitaphs. Dancing with depression is even harder.

The world in general seems to have a lot of misconceptions about depression. No, having depression, or any other chemical imbalance does not necessarily mean you lie in a dark room all day thinking about suicide - that's just being emo. And, no, it's not just all in the person's head. It's also in their knees, back, shoulders, stomach. Most people don't realize that one of the most common symptoms of depression is a sustained amount of aches and pains that exhibit for no real reason. So, right there, suddenly, dancing becomes a little harder.

We've all seen the commercials for all the drugs on the TV, listing "loss of interest in things" as another symptom, and this is mostly true. But loss of interest does not mean one morning you are going to wake up saying "OHMIGOD! I HAAATE Irish Dance and I NEVER WANT TO DO IT AGAIN". If you do that, you are either bi-polar or just a cranky, spoiled child who is mad that they didn't place. Loss of interest, for most run of the mill depression victims is far more simple. "Oh, I just don't feel up to going to class tonight." or "I don't feel well enough to go" (even though your only symptoms are those generic, mysterious aches and pains)

Most depression cases can also exhibit mainly with anxiety, not just irritability or moodiness. I know in my case, which is a minor case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, when my symptoms act up, I loose all ability to deal with stress, make hard decisions or in general function with day to day problems. So, y'know, that makes competitions not so easy.

There are more physical symptoms too, that really can impede or interfere with dreams of a dance career, if they aren't managed just right. Regular depression symptoms often include loss of appetite, or in some other conditions, increased appetite and weight gain can occur, and we all know, we need to eat well to dance well. Loss of sleep, lack of energy and ability to concentrate also hit dancers hard.

BUT . . .

Dancing with depression can also be one of the best things you can ever do.

Like I mentioned, I've been fighting a chronic case of SAD for about the past 7 years. With SAD, I go through good months and bad months, but sometimes even that can be difficult. However, SAD is far less severe then text-book depression can be, and can usually be dealt with without medication, and one of the BEST, non-medication treatments for any kinds of depression is EXERCISE.

It's hard, any given night, to pull my drowsy, overweight behind off the couch where I want to nap and force myself to go to class, but as soon as I do, and I start dancing and sweating and moving, I feel my body's chemistry just shift. Everyone knows that exercise releases endorphins, but few people realize that the good that does for people with these conditions. The social interaction also helps.

So, all this to say, that while depression certainly adds to the list of difficulties one can face being an Irish Dancer, specifically an adult dancer, you need to persevere. Never give up on something you love because your body is playing tricks on you. I don't know if I am the only one out there dealing with this - I can't think that I am, all I can say is 'Hang in there'. Eat healthy, get plenty of vitamin D, DANCE! Dance all the time, constantly keep moving. But, also, don't be afraid to talk about it. Don't think that you can't bring it up with friends, family and doctors. Don't let it win - don't let it take over your life, and what's more, don't let it stop you from dancing!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Irish Dance Obstacle Course

Tonight's class was yet another toughy. I mean, I had everything, EVERYTHING working against me. I am an "old", fat, former heart patient, current flu sufferer and chronic insomniac, who is working on 3 hours of sleep, a sick boyfriend infecting me, a 1500 calorie diet and joints that are creaking and popping a lot more then a 25 year old's should be. Add in work going into high gear and I just wanted to curl up on the floor and die.


Once again - I always feel like a spaz case whenever we are drilling up and down the floor (for like 20 minutes straight!) and I have to stop and take intense breathers while the kids just bounce back and forth, never stopping, never slowing down. OY!

And that is another thing! It's like an Irish Dance slalom course out there. I am trying to do my threes and leaps and there are one or two super wee (I suspect age 4, maybe 3) girls, while not being distracted enough to go look out the windows with some of the other, easily distractable girls, are JUST distracted enough to not watch where they are going. So, I am swerving all over, dodging oncoming dancers, merging in and out of lanes as it were,  trying to avoiding kicking a toddler in the face! No sooner would I leap out of the way of 4-year-old-looking-over her-shoulder, then seven-year-old-on-a-sugar high comes flying out of no where.

But yeah, despite allll that, decent class. My light jig is definitely solid now. No more doubts on that one. Time to start polishing technique on that. Have to go over with the TC a move on the second step. In my old school's step (which is practically identical, cause, lets face it, a light jig is a light jig is a light jig) It's a straight jump up, in a "switch", pretty much, but everyone else seems to be doing a "point", as in more of a jump/kick/point your toe. TC hasn't corrected me, but some clarification would be good. I did get used as an example to one of the younger boys, cause my timing is good. What can I say, I've always loved light jigs. Too bad they don't count for much.

And surprisingly enough - I didn't forget my reel!! We were lined up, I was second in line. Breathed a sigh of relief when we weren't going in twos, that was for certain. But as the only other girl in the class over the age of 10 went before me, I was singing the steps in my head, and I guess it just clicked. I went up, did the step, even remembered to bow! YEAAAH reel! 

Hardshoe . . . wasn't quite as solid. Of course not. When I am dancing with the older kids, who can actually watch what I am doing and question why this ancient klutz is stumbling through their hornpipe with them, and I actually want to impress them (at very least not embarrass myself!) I can't get my shit together. The toddlers who wouldn't notice if I was the Barynya rather then a reel, I ace the class, Go figure.

But still, veni vidi vici and all that. It's not that my hornpipe is bad. It's that I can't get it to speed. Slow it down while I am dancing in a corner, sure, no probs. Throw me in a line with two other girls and it LOOKS like I am doing the barynya! I won't beat myself up over the treble reel just yet. For two classes in, I am doing ok, considering I keep slipping back into my old steps.

That's it for tonight folks. I am curled on up on the couch, drinking tea, resting my poor, tired bones and watching Hoarders. Ohh, the guilty pleasures . . .

Slainte, gang.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Someone's new best friend

So, for as much as I was commenting on the wee one's looking at me like I was a dragon last week, apparently I am hot shit this week.

No, seriously. I am standing in line, waiting my turn to drill my light jig, and the cute, roundy cheeked blondie next to me just randomly starts poking me and holding my hand! She babbles at me the way five year olds do, then even more randomly starts hugging me! Seriously, have never spoken a word to this kid a day in my life. I don't even know this kid's name and I am certain that she doesn't know mine. I mean, do her parents encourage her to show physical affection to complete strangers?? Lol.

There is also this other girl - I'd give her 13 at the maximum. She's also a little higher level then the wee ones, but like me, is using a few weeks with the babies to catch up, from what I overheard. And while neither of us have really spoken a word to each other, it was like she was taking drill cues from me all class. I count to 8, start my hop-23 drills, the does them in time with me. I break. She breaks. I start my leaps, she does them too. Maybe I should be, y'know, the adult here, and actually say HI next class or something. I know, radical thoughts, huh?

So, in actual dance news. I've been so thrilled with myself, with how well my hornpipe was going. So yeah, doing it to speed. NOT so much. My hard shoe class is with some older kids with some student teachers too. And wow, do I feel so SPED when I am drilling in a group of three and they are just breezing through the hornpipe, and I can't remember what the crap I am doing. At least I was doing alright with my first time out on New School's Treble reel. If only I can retrain my muscles that there ISN'T a treble after my tip hop downs. Or if I can remind myself that New School calls them Rallies. UUUGH. Terminology will be the death of me.

I guess that's it for the night gang. I am putting my feet up and letting the Darlin' Boy cook dinner tonight. I will be back on the exercise and practice regime tomorrow night.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Is your mom in the car?

First class since the summer session ended. All that wonderful quick learning I did back in July quickly flew right out of the brain box. By, I picked it up again, quick enough. I think. I really am enjoying my new school. TC is funny and good at explaining things, but at the same time not babying you, y'know. Sometimes, you need some one to just EXPECT you to do, right? The only thing I am missing is camaraderie. I mean I didn't really expect to be such good buddies with a bunch of 8 years olds as I was with all the girls in my adult class back in PA, but it's almost like I am invisible. If they notice me at all, it to shoot me either curious or dirty looks. I am not really sure what they are, but one kid certainly seemed to be giving me the stink eye tonight. But, thankfully, occasionally one of their tiny little souls will take pity on me. I was supposed to be off in a corner, going over second hornpipe step with another of the taller people, who seemed more content to ignore me (my mother's voice is telling me that maybe she was just as shy as I am, but I prefer to be super critical! lol) so I am trying to watch and do, when this little blond sack of energy smiles at me and says "Do you need some help". Her speed-of-light break down really didn't give much information, but it was just enough to get me moving, and then muscle memory kind of took me from there. Good thing too, cause not five minutes later, TC was back with me, asking how I was doing.

The only other social contact I had was the TC's Mum being super helpful and friendly, both during class and when I handed over my registration form and check, and then one of the midgets of my class as I was leaving. She was standing at the top of the stairs outside of the classroom, doing the classic child whine of "c'mon moooom" when she saw me walk by, keys in hand. "Is your mom waiting for you in your car??" She asked in shocked surprise, as it seems the general rule is parents actually have to come up to the classroom and escort their kids out. (most likely a good rule, not the nicest part of town).

I had to stop and think before my answer - not for what it would be, that was easy enough - but to really ask myself, Do I really look that young?? I mean, for the love of sweet baby Jay, my right boob probably weighs more then this kid! I even have a stylish, grown up haircut now and everything, no more pig tails. I just told the girl that my Mom lives in another state, and that I drive my own car. Hope I didn't sound like too much of a condescending bitch .. . ..

In other news, the more I have been stewing about this whole dress-making thing the more I've been thinking, why the heck not. I like to sew well enough, when the fancy strikes me, I have a decent eye for design and colour, I dance myself so I have a grasp on what is comfortable/functional/legal. Why can't there be something that is way fancier then simple a-line dresses with a bit of embroidery on them but that doesn't involve zebra print and but bows? Why can't there be dance dresses that flatter those with fuller figure, or even those who don't but still don't want to look like a dancing cupcake? Why do "mature" and "stylish" have to be at odds? Scouting out some patterns, coming up with ideas.

And then, in the vein of dance related projects . . .  methinks there might have to be an Irish Dance based novel somewhere in the mix of all the other stories I am working on right now. Cause lets face it, there are scads of children's books for the wee Irish Dancers, but what about the teens/adults/parents? They would love to read about the world they are passionate about just as much as the kiddies, right? Have some characters drilling down the dance floor in my head, even have the basis of a sub-plot. Just need the big, overall plot. Oireachtas sabotage? Competing school? Feis rigging? I can't really imagine there being any serious enough intrigue in the dance world to move a story along. That, and intrigue isn't really my style. I do NOT want to do a "Black Swan in Solo dress" kinda shtick. Maybe something as silly as some kind of barroom bet? Who knows. . . . .

Well, that's it for now I guess. Have to go scout out some food. Does anyone else get completely famished after class or is it just me?


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Solo Dresses and Adults?

So, on the list of things that drive me crazy about our art form is that there is very little middle ground. We don't do anything by halves do we? I mean, I suppose that is a good thing in a lot of ways, but here's where I am getting hung up. As an adult, you only have 2 options as far as solo costumes go; either wear something that is clearly more suited to kids half your age, or end up wearing something that looks like it's an Irish themed Ice-capades costume.

Now, I have seen some talented adult dancers make their own costumes that are an elegant combination of younger style with some more flattering/mature features. But what about the non-sewing adult dancers out there? I know from my own "window" shopping, that I will NEVER find a Solo dress that will fit me, unless I get one custom ordered.

I am now beginning to wonder if I need to start designing/making solo dresses that specifically cater to adults and "bigger" girls - cause I mean, some adults are lucky enough to fit in dresses that are designed for tall teenagers, but I know I wouldn't be able to.

Thoughts, suggestions, comments????

Monday, July 23, 2012

Three Weeks, Three Dances

So, I am three weeks in to classes at my new school, and, dare I say it? I am actually catching on pretty quick. That's right ladies and gents, despite seven months of not dancing, of dancing in a room that feels like an oven, no week time or place to practice, having resigned myself to dancing with five year olds, my having gotten bigger and my thighs getting wobblier, I have learned the majority of both steps of my Reel, Jig and Hornpipe in three classes.THEE dances in three weeks folks.

All the changes haven't been bad. Despite having always struggled with the Hornpipe, I have both steps reasonably enough learned that I am now also learning my directions on it. The hardest part of all my new steps is that the mechanics are all the same as the old steps, but in different order, or spliced together differently. So, I am trucking along in my reel, and all of a sudden, I am doing the old step. Aggravating, but not a huge deal.

In other news, I have indulged a bit. However a brand new, super-whamadine sports busten-halter can be justified as a need. It only took me months of tralling the Victoria's Secret Website, waiting for it to be in stock and for a good coupon. I know, maybe this is all verging onto TMI, but as an adult irish dancer, good support is a big freaking deal. I can now say, to all the other grown up dancers over a B cup who can never really find a bra that works, I can totally recommend the VSX Pro Sports Bra. It's pricy but worth it. Not only does it provide great support without having to wear 2 traditional sports tops with it, it doesn't created the ever dreaded uni-boob as it has a built in underwire. It's super soft, breaths amazingly well, and isn't a FREAKING RACER BACK! I hate Racer back sports bras. This clips in the back and has straps that are just a little more heavy duty then a regular bra.

Next spoil might need to be new hard shoes. Mine are in perfect shape, but that's just the thing, 11 year old dance shoes should NOT be in perfect shape. This might be why no one wears the tan soled hards any more. I tried on some of the Fay's black soled at Celtic Fling Feis, at Irish Dance Outfitter's stand, and brand new they felt emphatically more flexible then my current beasts. Also, the chiseled toe was wider and flatter, which would make those toe stands easier once I get back there. It's not a need though, and unfortunatly, being adult, as always, means budgeting. I wonder if one of the new Boyne Walk Curves could count as a need???

So, I guess that's it for now. No big news, sorry gang. Have decided that an Irish Dance themed novel sounds like a good idea however.

We shall see I suppose. Will keep you posted

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grant me the serenity . . .

So I had a sickening 'realization' last night.

A solo dress that I had fallen in love with went back up for sale again on A solo dress that should actually fit me and isn't disgustingly overpriced. And then it hit me. I haven't danced since December. I wasn't making any leaps and bounds to moving up in levels even before then. The need for a solo dress has never been so far away. And then I had this sickening feeling that I might never dance again.

I knew when I took this job, that despite all the talk of dance schools in the area, that there was a good chance that I wasn't going to be home enough to even bother trying to start classes once we moved. I tried to be positive about it, but that fear was always there. But still, I moved and took the job, cause well - it's a good job, in this economy that everyone is always complaining about, and because it did really seem like the right move for Himself and I. And last night, I went to bed with the knot in my stomach, that this might really be it - time to give up the childhood dream, and accept that I won't get to finish this out. Work and adult life is getting to be too much

But I still wept when a dance school paraded past at an event I was working at. I still find myself practicing my Treble Jig in the elevator, or in the grocery store, in really anywhere that I find a bit of floorspace. I still find myself cruising for any deals on a pair of dance sneakers to practice in, even though I haven't practiced in three months. I still haunt my old school's facebook page, soaking in every status update and picture, wishing I was still a part of it all.

So, it's decision time. Is this one of those things I can't change that I need to accept, or do I need the courage to keep pushing? Will I be able to live with myself if I let go, and just let Irish Dance be something I love from afar, but not be part of my life?