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North American Nationals, 2015

Before I get too far into this post, the important thing to know about this year's nationals was that I really did enjoy myself. I enjoyed seeing friends I don't see all that often. I enjoyed watching world-class dancers. I enjoyed the small bit of exploring I did of the charming Providence. I just fear that a lot of this post is going to be talking about the not-so-good parts, so I wanted to state that first and foremost.

Dancing day came around and I was very calm as far as major dance competitions go. Usually I get myself so worked up about 'this is the chance to get that world qualification, so you better do your best,' but not that day. Senior ladies ended up scheduled for July 4th this year, and so my dress received a lot of compliments, and the occasional question about if I ordered a patriotic dress specifically for the day.

I was towards the beginning of the hornpipe round, which was very nice to get it done and over with and not have to wait around for two hours! The downside to that was that my hornpipe really wasn't the best. I over-taped my shoes because I psyched myself out from hearing about how slick the floors were, so my shoes felt sticky. There were screens on either side of the stage broadcasting the dancing to the back of the hall could see, and as I turned to the side on my second and third steps, I could see myself on a one second delay, which threw me off. But I smiled the whole time through!

There was a five hour wait between rounds for me, so after warming up again, I did dance what I felt like was a great reel. I was very proud of how that round felt, and knew that the rest was in the judges hands for the day.

I didn't recall, but that was really okay.

I of course waited around the dancing hall until the awards were given out, and immediately went to purchase the results for my competition upon the completion of the senior lady awards. I was extremely disappointed to find that I ended up tied for 83rd place with many others because we were awarded 0 Irish points. I knew that my hornpipe wasn't it best, but I would have thought my reel at least would have gotten me something

So I basically got last place. For the third competition in a row this year.

I think part of the issue is the steps I got in January this year are of a completely new style that I've ever done before. I am especially struggling with the hornpipe and the set. Despite six months of drills, the hornpipe still feels awkward and gets very little sound. Everyone who is an open champ at my school has these same steps, and I'm realizing more and more that Irish dance steps are not one size fits all. I will be asking my TC to see if I can do something that I can pull off consistently, so I can achieve that long-time world qualification goal at Oireachtas.

I thought part of the reasoning for this string of last place was my feis look being too progressive. You know, the no wig, pixie cut, with red or blue bangs to match my dress. I get lots of complements on my hair choice from other feis goers, but through that may have been a factor in my recent last places. After wearing a gorgeous full wig and seeing no improvement, I don't think that's it.

In other news, I leave in a few hours to take part in the inaugural Riverdance Summer Academy in Dublin. There will be WiFi, so I hope to post on Rince go Bragh from Ireland, and possibly from my vacation in London, too! I will for sure be updating the Rince go Bragh Facebook page while I'm there, so make sure you have liked that page to keep up with this fantastic opportunity!

Goals: Have the best time with Riverdance!
Days till Os: 146


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
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