The 2013 Oireachtas

I have been procrastinating this post.  It's true.  I am still not 100% okay with how my Oireachtas day turned out.  I know I don't usually use this blog to make my displeasure known, but I can't avoid writing about the Oireachtas because it it a part of my dance journey.  I made a promise to myself that is what this blog is for, and now that I have readers who care, I can't just pretend it didn't happen.

The long and short of it is I'm not a world qualifier.  Again.  And for the fourth time in a row, I was within mere places of qualifying.

When the announcer skipped over my number, I said "What?!" out loud.  I knew I had it, and couldn't believe it.  All day long, I was so looking forward to being called on stage before the placements were awarded.  I had danced my best.  I maintained my health all year long, and was achieving my goals outlined for the year.  Something within me was so confident that I would be up there, but that something was terribly wrong.

Awards was tough.  It took all of my willpower to hold myself together on stage.  Of course after being disappointed for the fourth year in a row, I found it very difficult to hide that emotion.  I am only human, though my solo dress makes it seem otherwise.  I received an on-stage pep talk from one of my TCs; it's the only moment of the day I wish I could remember in full detail.

I cried through a good part of the teams awards, finally able to pull it together by the time my 4-hand and figure choreography were called to hear our placements (8th and 2nd).  As I was pulling myself together, I was able to buy my scores, and in the end, it was my set.  My set of three years (and much careful polishing) dropped me by six placements.  I had it until then, and knowing what caused my disappointment is crushing, nearly as crushing as seeing dancers I had consistently placed above all season, beat me out at this one event.

As I was driving back to my house from the Oireachtas (they were local this year), the question on my mind was, “Why do I keep doing this if I constantly fall short of my goals?”  I had a very lively debate with myself.  I was so absorbed in figuring out the answer to this question as I was driving down the interstate that I missed the exit for my house.

Ultimately, I decided that when I dance, I know that everything is right in my world.  My life could be up in shambles, but when I am dancing, I know that everything will be okay.  Dance is my thing.  I keep dancing because when I dance, nothing else matters.  I will get myself that qualification one day.  It may be this fifth year of chasing the goal, it may be the next, but until then, I will enjoy every moment of this journey I have created for myself.

Goals: PT exercises every other day
Days till Os: 268


Parade of Champions: a book review

Parade of Champions: Inspiration for Irish Dancers is my newest favorite source for Irish dancing inspiration.  The book takes a look at 57 different people involved in Irish dancing and brings straight to you the secrets of their success.  Many of the top names in Irish dancing today have contributed, and high quality photos accompany nearly all the inspirational messages.  As St. Patrick's season approaches (with worlds a month and a half away), I highly recommend Parade of Champions for Irish dancers of any age and experience level.

Hands down, my favorite part of this book are the encouragements and personal stories!  I am finding myself in yet another dancing rut, facing months injury recovery this year, and after reading through Parade of Champions, I am ready to face this year and get back into my dancing! (Safely, after healing of course.)

My second favorite part of the book is the variety of dancers (and teachers!) that are included in Parade of Champions.  There are of course blurbs from the top dancers in the world, but there were quite a few names I didn't recognize right away.  I also really enjoyed seeing dancers and teachers from all over the world being represented.

I also really am a fan of the quality of pictures used.  They are so vibrant and colorful!  I think that we will all look back in ten years and be able to accurately reminisce on the feis fashions of the mid-2010s.

This book is available for digital download (which worked very well with my Kindle app), or in actual physical form, and can be found by visiting their website.

Goals: Do my PT exercises every other day
Days till Os: 275


2014 Goals and Other Odds and Ends

I have procrastinated this year on my annual yearly goals post.  (In fact, I have procrastinated too much on blogging all together since my last post).  My 2014 goals officially include:

  1. Heal my ankle.
  2. Post on Rince go Bragh biweekly.
  3. Feis as much as possible in May and June.
  4. Heal from ankle surgery.
2014 has not been the best start to my new.  The second week in January, I was practicing slip jig at dance, and landed a jump wrong and tore two ligaments in my right ankle.  Two ligaments that were previously been torn in 2012, the last time I had slip jigs as my soft shoe dance.  Since I've now torn ligaments in this ankle five times, my podiatrist suggested I have surgery to a) tighten my loose and unstable ligaments, and b) clean up the scar tissue that has formed.  

I will be having surgery instead of attending nationals this summer.  I am yet unsure of the recovery and rehabilitation time.  Will Oireachtas be part of my dancing career this year?  Will I be able to keep my ankles healthy for another two years to chase my world qualification goal?  If I have to put off qualifying events for so long, will my perseverance even be paid off with an actual world qualification?

I wish I had the answers to these questions.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Feiseanna I want to attend (barring ankle health and willingness to travel):
    • McGrath Feis (I'm registered.  I'll be there.  Will I dance?  Probably not.)
    • Holy Angels Feis
    • CCE Feis
    • Hurley School Feis (A new northern SR feis?!)
    • Feile Rince Charlotte
    • Old Dominion Feis
  • Have you been over to Antonio Pacelli's new community section on their website lately?  I blog there monthly with separate content from Rince go Bragh!  Be sure to take a look at other blogger's content as well! [Check it out!]
Goals: Don't dance yet.  Don't do it.
Days till Os: 292


Mini Update

It's December.  I am an Irish dancer.  You know what that means...

Oireachtas Information
  • Tomorrow is the big day!  It will be jam packed with much dancing (solos in the morning, teams in the afternoon), but I know it will be a blast in the end!
  • I am feeling ready with my dancing.  I am going to put trust in my body and rely on all the hard work I have done in preparation for this event.  I am doing my best to stay stress free like I did for nationals this summer, but there are other factors at work for the Oireachtas that weren't there for nationals.  I did take the day off work to make sure that I am relaxed and focused.  I will do my best to continue to keep calm.
  • As always, I will be trying my best to post updates throughout the day as time allows [follow @RinceGoBragh on twitter] [follow @sekubik on instagram]
Coyle Feis
  • In a rare turn of events, I was unable to attend my usual November feis (Culkin), so I decided for extra competition practice that I would attend an out of region feis.  My goal was to place in the top half of the competition, but I fell short by just two places.  Since this feis happened a few weeks before the Mid Atlantic Oireachtas, I suppose it's to be expected.  I believe I was the highest placing Southern Region dancer though, so that is always a good sign!
Antonio Pacelli
  • Have you checked out the new Antonio Pacelli website?  They have completely revamped everything (except their merchandise; that remains wonderful as usual), and added a community section, full of Irish dance blogger from around the world, including me!
  • I will be posting separate content on the Antonio Pacelli website at least once a month, but don't worry, Rince go Bragh will still remain active.
Kennedy Center Performance
  • My dance school and I had the rare opportunity to perform at a prestigious venue: the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  We performed on a Sunday evening on the Millennium Stage as part of the Kids Euro Festival performance.
  • You can catch our entire performance by following this link.  We start dancing at 23:25.

Goals: Three clean rounds
Days till Os: 17 hours


Boston Bash: days 5 and 6

Saturday March 30th

Saturday was again spent mostly in the same competition hall as the day before, this time to watch the senior men dance, and cheer on Colin.  I always love watching the men dance because they are so powerful and at this level, they have quite excellent rhythm.  One thing I noticed as I was watching the dancing was that for their recall round, many of the men danced Vanishing Lake.  I came to worlds not knowing the tune, and left that competition not only having it memorized, but it's my set dance ear worm. It's not my set, but it is always in my head!

I ran straight from watching the senior men competition to get ready for the figure dress rehearsal.  I went to put on my wig, and ran into a slight snafu.  Of all the things I forgot to bring, I never would have thought it would be my wig.  When I was quickly packing (carelessly), I managed to grab the wrong wig.  I didn't realize my mistake until about half an hour before a dress rehearsal the day before competing at worlds.  I pulled the wig out of the bag, and wouldn't you know, it was my old wig that is completely the wrong color.  It was not my teams wig.  After a short freak out, I called around to other team members in the junior figure and was able to borrow the correct wig.  Problem solved.

My afternoon and early evening were dominated by a three hour figure practice and wig/make up tutorial to make sure we were ready.  It was a great chance to talk over with the team things those of us noticed about the staging with the junior figure, and what we can do to make our performance successful.

The night was concluded by eating at the P.F. Chang's bar because my friend and I were not feeling like good explorers.  I also had the good fortune of having excellent post-wig hair.  This once in a lifetime event was documented, and saved for posterity.

                                             Sunday March 31st: Competition Day

Our morning warm up and make up session will live in my mind forever as our best team building time.  We commandeered a bathroom four our team and helped each other achieve a uniform look with out make up and wigs.  Our Zumba-certified senior dancer led us in some of her favorite Zumba routines as a warm up.  We ran through our figure knowing that if we kept it controlled, and had our faces on, we could do this.  We could go home with some hardware from the world championships.

Looking back a little over six months after being on the worlds stage, I cannot remember much of our performance, I do remember feelings.  During the walk on, I was keeping a cap on my nerves.  I may have been shaking just by the mere thought of dancing on a worlds stage.  My mantra was breathe.  Once the music started, it was smiley faces, chin up, sparkle baby sparkle, and one sassy wink at the judges.  I remember getting off the stage thinking that was not our best.  It was okay.  But not the best.

The entire time the announcer was calling out scores, I don't think I could breathe.  I tried adding up our numbers, but my brain could only focus on those groups that were receiving perfect 100s from the judges.  We were not among them.  Our team ended up placing 8th, the first non-awarded place.  It was mildly heartbreaking, considering the hours (read: years) of practice that we have put into this dance.

After dancing, those of us in the figure who were of age went to one of Boston's many Irish pubs.  We watched a little bit of the basketball tournament, reviewed videos of our performance that our friends and family were able to sneak, and determined that we didn't look as bad as we felt we danced.  It was a great chance to celebrate our accomplishment, and finally relax now that the pressure of performing at worlds was over.

My worlds experience was concluded with Pinkberry and having a mini viewing party for the Season Finale of Game of Thrones since the hotel I was in had HBO.  My greatest hope is that I get to repeat the experience in London this April as a soloist!

Goals: Keep up stamina and health
Days till Os: 24

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