Pre-Nationals Rambles

Tomorrow I am leaving for Providence to dance at nationals! I am very excited for this weekend, and like the last time attended nationals, I'm taking this major with a no-stress attitude. Recall or no, it's going to be a spectacular experience.

This year, the senior ladies are dancing on July 4th. I am very excited about this because my dress is so patriotic! July 4th is also the day of Steve Rodgers' birthday in Marvel canon, so the fangirl in me is excited to wear the Captain America dress on Captain America's birthday.

Fangirling aside, my goals for the weekend are to first and foremost have fun. That's the overall goal for the year, so of course it's up first on my list. Secondly, I'd love to meet up all with dance friends I've made who live far away because I see them so rarely! Lastly, I want to feel joy while dancing. I plan to have the biggest smile on my face during all my rounds this year! I am ready for some killer action shots.

There is so much that I have overcome in the past year's time. During nationals last year, I literally could not walk since I was only a few weeks post-op. I am looking forward to showing the world what one year of very determined recovery time from a surgery looks like.

As always, you can keep up with my weekend's adventures on so many different social media sites:

Here's a 'way back Wednesday' for you from Nationals in 2013!
I will be bringing the full wig back this weekend.
Good luck to all, and if you see me, say hi!

Goals: Have fun this weekend!
Days till NANs: 3


Late spring feiseanna: a mini update!

In April. I was on a blogging roll. And then May happened and I fell off the roll. Now it's June, and it's summer vacation, so I'm bring back the weekly blogging since I know this summer will be full of dancing adventures! So, let's bring you up to date with the goings on since late April.

After the McGrath Feis, I attended two more feiseanna: the Hurley Feis and Feile Rince Charlotte. There's nothing too exciting to speak of about these feiseanna since the most notable thing that happened is that I was placed last in both competitions. I know I didn't screw up my dances the days of the feiseanna, so I can only guess that others outperformed me and the judges didn't like my style. It's worrying to drop from third overall to last so close to nationals (especially since Hurley was nearly the same set of competitors as McGrath), but life goes on, and I go back to dance practice.

Hurley Feis
I am continuing with my dance theme of the year where I have fun and enjoy the moments, and as such have not set a placement goal for nationals. Yes, of course it'd be nice to recall, but I'm at the point where whatever will happen will happen. There has been some self-doubt in my dancing the past few weeks due to the recent feis placements, so we'll see what happens on July 4th.

Also! In just shy of one month, I will be overseas for the Riverdance Academy! I will be in Dublin from July 12-18, and then I will be in London until July 25. I am super excited to be a part of the inaugural Riverdance summer school. I am planning on bringing my laptop since I know there will be WiFi, so hopefully this summer of weekly blog posts won't be interrupted while I am training and on vacation!

Thanks for reading this ramble of a post. I hope next week to bring you something a little more cohesive.

Goals: stamina and stay healthy. Drill HP lead
Days till NANs: 14


The McGrath Feis

On Sunday, I attended my first feis of 2015. I went to the McGrath Feis in Woodbridge, Virginia to begin my set of prep-for-nationals feiseanna. I was lucky to have my parents, boyfriend, and boyfriend's mom in attendance at this feis. This feis featured a 20 and over age group split, which I am so thankful for! I can't tell you how nice it is to not have to dance with people nearly ten years younger than I am.

My goal for the feis was to make it through my hornpipe and reel steps without forgetting how they go. I learned new hornpipe and reel steps in January, and this feis was my first chance to compete with them, They are very stylish steps, and I am working to perfect them and get them in to my body as well as my old set of hornpipe and reel steps.

I did meet my goal and was about to get thorough my first two rounds without forgetting! Of course, there were points in my hornpipe that I knew could be better (especially since my only comment from the feis was "feet too straight"). My reel round went fine, though my ankles felt particularly wibbly-wobbly that day, and all I remember thinking about was "hold it together!" To me, my set round felt the strongest out of all. After competing with this Planxty Drury since 2011, I feel like it's finally gotten really good. My beats are strong and rarely missing throughout. I have the certain extra turnout points flagged (though execution is not up to par still).

Awards for this feis included round awards of chocolate bars for first through fifth place for all three rounds. I placed in each round! Fourth for hornpipe, second for reel, and third for set.

I love chocolate.
I also was super surprised to hear my number called for third place in the overall championship! I was not expecting to place so well doing new steps partially because I know they still have a lot of work to be done on them. This is a tie for my highest open placement (Rhythm of Ireland 2013).

I was very fortunate that I has so many loving family members come to support my dancing on Sunday. I'm glad they got a chance to see my new dancing steps, and to attend a feis where I placed so well!

Up next is the Hurley Feis on May 24th!

Goals: Work on new set, HP stamina
Days till NANs: 71


The 2014 Oireachtas

Round 1 number check
There's not much I have to say about my solo round from the Oireachtas. They most impressive thing was dancing soft shoe with no brace on for the first time since surgery. These unremarkable rounds led to a rather disappointing result that night with my lowest ever placement. I dropped drastically from placing in the upper 20s to the 34th. I suppose one could say that I made outstanding progress just by recalling at a major championship six months post-op, but I was really working toward a triumphant return by finally world qualifying. Not to mention that the southern senior lady group was incredibly tough this year, but that seems like I'm making excuses. The point is I was very disappointed but I'm getting over it and focusing on having fun while dancing.

My only solo awards picture. They focused heavily on the WQs.
By far, one of the most outstanding stories of the day was the switch from solos to teams. I was one of the last few senior lady sets to be danced. Meanwhile, the 15 and over girls eight hand competition started, despite senior ladies not having finished. My team was due to dance somewhere in the middle of rotation, but I couldn't make it. The stage managers let us dance last, fortunately. Unfortunately that still didn't leave me enough time, and I kept the competition waiting as I changed out of solo hair, make up, and costume. All the 15 and over girls four hand competitions were lined up, and I had to dash my way through them to meet my team side stage. I did not stop walking as I took my spot for the walk on, and our team took the stage! Thank God for the years of practice doing St. Patrick's Day. If we needed to review something as a team, we wouldn't have been half as successful while we danced. That team took seventh overall.

I was a member of two four hands as well, a girls and mixed four. The girls four danced decently and took 17th out of sixty teams. My mixed four hand did shockingly well. We didn't get many opportunities to dance together leading up to the Oireachtas, and we danced with the team that took first, so we thought we were done for. Only one one of our team members saw the recall list, and standing side stage at awards, we began to doubt that our number was really on the list. The closer the announcer got to first place, the more worried we became. We ended up taking fifth and getting a chance to be on the podium! It was a fantastic feeling!

Goals: Don't forget new dances on stage at the feis Sunday
Days till NANs:79


Irish Dance How-To: DIY Sugar Scrub

The weather is getting warmer, St. Patricks's month is over, so that means my pre-nationals feis season is gearing up to begin! Last fall, I discovered a great way to make the most of my feis tan, and I thought I'd share some of my tips with you today.

A sugar scrub is a fantastic way to exfoliate and prepare your legs for your pre-feis leg tanning session. Most tanning products do recommend exfoliating to avoid splotchiness. Keep in mind this is something to do the day before the feis, and not the morning of, for time’s sake and your feis day sanity.

You need: 

  • 1 cup sugar (brown or white) 
  • 1/4 cup natural oil (olive, coconut, almond, etc.) 
  • (optional) 5-8 drops essential oil

Step one: Make the scrub. My rule of thumb is three parts sugar to one part oil, then add in any essential oils if you want an extra good smelling scrub. My favorite combination is brown sugar, olive oil, and one teaspoon each of vanilla extract and honey, but you can also use whatever you have on hand in your kitchen. It’s your scrub after all!

Step two: Shave your legs as usual.

Step three: Use your scrub on your freshly shaven legs. Turn on your favorite song, jam out, and scrub each leg gently for half the length of the song. Be gentle so you don’t rub your legs raw! Give yourself a nice calf massage. Rub your tired feet. They have been working hard for you and deserve some TLC. Rinse off the sugar and resist the urge to stroke your legs now. Wait until after the whole process. It’s a secret.

Step four: We’re going to go beyond smooth, so lather up your legs with whatever you use to shave, and shave them again. Rinse your razor often! Instead of hair, this time you are getting rid of dead skin. Gross.

Step five: Use the rest of the sugar scrub on your legs. Jam out to another song. Rinse with plain water. Legs still feeling oily? Wash that weird feeling off with your favorite body wash.

Step six: Feel your smoothy smooth legs. Share how smooth they are with others. Apply tanner if you’re going to a feis, or lotion if you’re doing this to pamper yourself. Resist the urge at the feis to brag about how your legs have released their inner goddess. Try not to start a smooth legs competition (but if you do, know that you will get the sash and crystal, my dear, because you are the smooth legs winner).

P.S. Another important factor in making your tan last or not fade in splotches is to continue to exfoliate (I use a loofah in the shower) and moisturize daily! Your legs are still goddesses after your feis. Treat them as such.

Goals: Don't forget to work on your set!!
Days till NANs: 87
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