Monday, February 24, 2014

Update and goal for the week of February 24

Every Monday, more-so for my sake, I'm going to post what I'm working on for the upcoming week and give anyone who is interested an update on my dancing life.

Here's my update as of now:

I competed in my first feis since 2006 a couple weeks ago. I wasn't nervous until I was behind the curtain waiting to go on. Reel was first and I completely blanked when I was practicing right before I went on stage.


I completely psyched myself out and my reel was a blur. I can't remember what I did right, what I did wrong -- all i know is what the judge told me, which is to work on my timing and to over-cross more. I placed 2nd to last.


Oh well. I'll keep working. Reels are hard for me because I'm not very quick in soft shoe.

Overall, I placed only in my hard shoe dances. I'll take a positive spin on this and tell myself, "Look! Now you know what you definitely need to work on!"

Soft shoe!!

So, my goal for the week: SOFT SHOE. SOFT SHOE. SOFT SHOE!!!

And more specifically, to work on my strength.

I'm just about to head out to go practice and this week I'm focusing completely on soft shoe. No hard shoe at all.

I'm hoping to strengthen my 2 major upper-leg muscles. My quads and my hamstrings.

Whenever I see really good Irish dancers, their legs are bulging with muscle. I found this picture of some amazing legs on Google and it will serve as my inspiration this week.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Future of the Irish Dance Solo Dress?

Recently on Pinterest, I've found some amazing runway dresses that resemble Irish solo dresses.

It makes me wonder and imagine what the next trends for Irish dancers will be.

I've noticed that the wigs have gotten bigger and bigger, and that I don't care about. The dress though, I'm loving the new solo dresses. The outrageous styles I see are amazing!

Here are a couple of pictures of dresses that could be used as some inspiration for future Irish solo dresses.

A fuller skirt?

A simpler, more fitted style?
I  love this idea!

Lace and tassels?

Simple pearl and lace detail? Just one color?

Tailored to look like a jacket?

Oh, wait! They've already done it! This is an actual solo dress!


Do you have any wild ideas for a solo dress??? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Reason Behind the Look -- The Competitive Irish Dancer

I've got so much to say to the author of the article "Why Irish dancing has lost its way and needs to change." If you don't know about it, it's the article that is enraging Irish dancers everywhere.

Rather than spouting out my feelings in a blog post, I'm going to (hopefully) calmly tell Cahir O'Doherty, the author, some of the facts he carelessly didn't check before writing his poorly researched article.

Mr. O'Doherty, you first stated, regarding the Irish dancer's modernized look, "They need costumes and giant wigs and spray tans and extensive wardrobes. We need to hide them beneath multiple layers of pan stick and polyester if they're to stand a chance on the stage on their own."

There are reasons behind everything you mention here. You didn't care to research the "whys" behind the costume (solo dress), the wig, the spray tan -- you just decided to write down your shallow opinions. 

In a competition, dancers get less than a minute to make an impression on the judges while they are dancing. Traditional athletes, as in basketball players or footballers, etc., get hours of game time to make an impression of their talent. 

We don't have that luxury.

That's why we have to make every second count.

We spend money on solo dresses that, first, represent ourselves. The solo dress is a reflection of the dancer wearing it -- their personality, their style, their interests. The dress also needs to draw the eye of the judge to the dancer. We're fighting for the spot light -- that opportunity to be seen! That's one reason why glitter and stones are so popular right now. They add flash and attract the eye of the judge to our outfit, and ultimately to ourselves. 

It's a tactic.

There's so much truth in this picture:

And another thing!

Who are you to say what we spend our money on??? That's none of your business!

*calm down*

Back to the points:

Irish dancers wear wigs as a symbol of our traditional roots in old Ireland. Irish girls would curl their hair before they went dancing. We do the same thing. It's important to keep tradition when your activity is rooted in a folk dance. 

And there's this indisputable fact:

Who can argue with that???

O'Doherty then mentions spray tans. Here's my question for him:

Have you ever seen a bodybuilder?

They're pretty tan aren't they? Why would they tan their bodies?

Think about it...

There's an important similarity between bodybuilders and Irish dancers, believe it or not. Each tans their bodies to enhance the visual muscular definition. Muscle definition can be more easily seen on darker skin than fair skin. This is why Irish dancers tan their legs. We are athletes, muscle strength is essential and the adjudicators look for strong legs while judging. Irish dancing is all about legs. We've got to make them look good!

Woo! Look at that!

Ultimately, Mr. O'Doherty, we look this way because it has the power to make us feel invisible. When you look good, you feel good, you dance good.

I hope all my readers take this next quote lightly. Being a strong, technically savvy dancer is what gets us trophies, but looking good can't hurt.

I love how modern Irish dancers look. It makes sense, the way we dress, if you think about the overall goal of wanting to shine on stage. 

I hope with all the backlash Cahir O'Doherty has received, he'll think twice before he messes with Irish dancers again.


If you want to hear an NPR (National Public Radio) piece on competitive Irish dance, click here. You'll love it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Intoxication of Irish Dance

Do you remember the first time you saw an Irish dance performance?

For me, it was a junior high talent show when I was 13.

A family performed made up of 5 children including 2 sets of twins -- a set of boys and a set of girls. They were perfect for Irish choreography.

I didn't remember the dance but what I did remember was wanting, with all my heart, to be able to dance like that!

Do you share this feeling with me? Were you drawn to Irish dance when you first saw it? Heard the music? Felt the rhythm of the hard shoes? Did the memory of the dance performance keep pleasantly nagging at your brain until you found out where the nearest place Irish dance was taught?

This was basically my story of how I became to be an Irish dancer.

Never have I yearned to become another kind of dancer. Irish is what I feel I was born to do.

Am I not alone?

It's one of my favorite parts of a dance performance, while looking out from the stage, and see little girls in the audience jumping around to the music.

I imagine they are little Irish dancers in the making. *sigh*

I found this video on Pinterest. She is an amazing dancer but what I really loved happens just after the 1 minute mark in the video.


The woman videotaping says "She makes me want to do it."

I love that!

By this simple performance, a woman in the audience wants to learn how to Irish dance. And she can't be the only one.

Irish dance is so intoxicating and so catching. Whenever I tell people I Irish dance, 90% of the time the response is, besides "Is that the same thing as Riverdance?" but rather, "I love that kind of dance!"

It's exciting to be apart of something that not many people do but a lot of people know.

Please share your first-witness-of-Irish-dance story with me! I'd love to see how you felt when you first saw Irish dance.