Hey! So you all know that my name is Aine and that I’ve been dancing for 12 years but you don’t know my actual story about my Irish dancing career.
See, my parents have a business and they travel to Irish festivals and sell their goods. I would travel to all these places with them. At the festivals, there would be many great musical acts but the thing that really caught my attention was the Irish dancing. I was three when I first started classes. I was a pre-schooler, a toddler. One of those adorable little children that didn’t know what the heck they were doing.
In the 1st grade, my met my best friend (except sorta not anymore…that’s another story though). She knew that I was an Irish dancer and she wanted to start too. We danced together once a week for the next five (ish) years. We both sucked. I mean honestly, we NEVER practiced. Ever. I was one of those horrible little dancers. It must have been painful for my parents to watch. Mom and Dad, I’m sorry.
Anyways, in the 5th or maybe 6th grade we began taking private lessons together with a great older dancer. Then, my passion really lit but my friends didn’t. I don’t think that she ever really had a passion for it. I started getting better but she didn’t. It would annoy me so much but there was nothing I could do about it. Our moms would ask us, “Do you guys really want to pursue Irish dancing? Is this something you want?” My friend would answer quickly, “I don’t know.” but I was screaming in my head, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
By 8th grade I was in all Open/Prizewinner and my friend was still in all Novice. I was taking two classes per week and she wasn’t. I knew that soon she was going to quit but I didn’t expect it to be that year. When she told me, I wasn’t surprised at all. It ate away at me though. At that point, I knew that the stress of moving up levels together was going to be gone. I could finally let loose and go to my full potential.
Freshman year in high school was my 3rd year in the Open class at my studio. At that point, it didn’t even bother me. I just wanted to do as well as I could. I got private lessons every week and went to so many feises. My motivation was treating myself (well, I bought half of it) to a solo dress that would be custom made just for me. I could see myself improving each month and my results kept getting better. It had come down to my last two firsts I needed to get into prelim…hornpipe. The dreaded hornpipe. I don’t even think I can count how many times I got 2nd place in that dance. I don’t think I even want to know.
By the time I reached prelim it was June 2011. I had two weeks until my first prelim feis: The Dayton Feis. One week I got a lesson from one of the teachers at my school. Her and my other teacher were talking and I heard them saying that they didn’t think I would place that weekend. It didn’t bother me. I didn’t even believe that I would place. I ended up getting 6th out of 23 dancers. My mind was blown. I was so happy. Happy isn’t even the right word. It was so much more than that.
I WAS GOING TO OIREACHTAS.
After 11 years of dancing, I would finally go to oireachtas. FINALLY.
At my first preliminary dance camp (dance camp is 3.5+ hours of dance each day for 5 days at my school) I was so lost. I didn’t know what was going on. I was doing open or even novice steps and then I was expected to learn twelve new dances at a harder level in five days? Hah. It’s no surprise that I placed the worst I had ever placed at the feis right after dance camp.
Then, being at oireachtas camp and not knowing anyone was absolute torture for me. It got to the point where I didn’t want to go to those classes. I know. At oireachtas, I sort of expected a recall but thinking back on it now, I didn’t even deserve one. I mean, I think I looked alright but where I had gotten in that one year was unbelievable.
After oireachtas was probably my worst dancing. I had to re-learn all the slip jigs and treble jigs. My first few feises this year were horrible for me. I didn’t want 8th or 6th. I wanted 1st and that’s all. One day, my old private lesson teacher called me to tell me that she couldn’t give me lessons anymore. I had been with her for maybe five or six years. She told me that I was her favorite dancer to teach and that she would really miss me. I cried that day.
Eventually I did find a new private lesson teacher, Kayla. The first lesson I had with her, she walked in with her worlds jacket and it had ten years on it. She had been to worlds ten freaking times. Damn.
After that, I started placing much better. I went from 8th place to 3rd place then from 3rd to 2nd. Those seconds were killing me. I hated to be one of those people who stood on 2nd place and looked a little bit pissed off but when 1st is all you want, it was hard to fake a smile. I think that the whole time, I handled it maturely. I never once cried because of my 2nd place. I really was happy about it in some way. It’s just when at every feis, you have this rush of adrenaline while awards are going…your heart sinks when they call your name for 2nd.
Finally at the Chicago feis in May, I won my first 1st place. I cried a tiny bit but it was nothing compared to Detroit. I knew that once I got my first 1st, the second would come easily. Then, the next Saturday, I danced at the Detroit Feis. Yes, I won. Honestly, still thinking about this day makes me want to cry. It’s the biggest achievement of my dancing career so far. I just cried and cried and cried and cried and cried some more. It was insane. I was so happy too, I thought I could just move right on up into champ. Haha, not so fast. My teachers told me I had to stay in prelim for the rest of the year. While I was still happy, this lowered my happiness a great deal. My dad told that night that watching my face during awards was one of the best things he has even seen. I really do get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
I have 6 more feises before Oireachtas and before I can move into OC
- Clan Na Gael Summer Feis
- Columbus Feis
- Oakville Feis
- Michigan Feis
- Gem City Feis
- Chicago Autumn Feis
I expect myself to win all of them. That would make a grand total of 8 firsts…woo. That’s a lot.
Now, I do feel bad. What if I do win all eight? I mean, I’m making it so other people can’t move up. :/ My teachers want me to though. Also, it’s sort of the last time I ever expect to place at a feis. Once I’m in OC, I have no chance.
So now there are only four months until Oireachtas so I better get practicing!!
I know how everyone says, “I wish I would have started younger…UHHHHH” but I started at age three and I didn’t start caring about dance until I was about 12. If my parents would have made me practice, I would have quit. I thank them for allowing me to SUCK for so many years.
P.S. Anyone who says they don’t have a chance to make it to OC…you do. I was in open/prizewinner just over a year ago and three years ago, I was still in novice. You can do it.