Forum: Irish / Irish - Teachers and Assistants

Ceili/teams class attendance
By AinetheDragonPremium member
On Tue Sep 25, 2012 09:48 PM

So, last year I started building a ceili/teams dance program with my school. It started out great, and was growing well (I started in december and had 18 kids participate in multiple teams at a feis in may!) but now I seem to have lost my audience. Alot of my regular kids are prepping for the O's and have been in and out all summer. I couldn't get enough interest for Oireachtas teams (3-4 kids per age group said they would participate, several declined

Ultimately, I would like to have participating in teams be just another part of someones dance experience at the school. Essentially, just what everyone usually does. But, I also am reluctant to make participating in teams a requirement because I want dancers who WANT to be there you know?

Anyway, my question is, how do you handle teams with your school? Any ideas of how to build enthusiasm back up? How do I compete with the desire to focus on solos and the individual?

5 Replies to Ceili/teams class attendance

re: Ceili/teams class attendance
By byudawn
On Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:43 AM
I'm not sure if this is an answer, but our teacher/school sends out an email to select students asking if they are INTERESTED in participating in Teams AND doing Solos (or Traditional Sets) for the O. She lists up front all the required practices and costs.payments and other necessary items (Team dress, team warm-up outfit) so that they know if they say YES to wanting to be on it and they are selected, they WILL need to do all those things. Then a month or so later in July she emails those that are selected for teams and I think almost all the girls on teams are also doing Solos, and a couple are just doing Traditional Sets. This way, they are kind of "combined". The Team practices are on a different day than the Solos practices though. When you are "invited" to be on a special team, it definitely makes it more exciting to be selected, and that way our teacher absolutely knows who will be committed ahead of time.
re: Ceili/teams class attendance
By mo5577
On Wed Sep 26, 2012 03:06 AM
My daughter is soooo excited about doing ceili at O's. For us (parents) the extra practice in addition to solo is a lot. Would be great if summer was used to not only learn new solo steps but ceili too. Even a ceili workshop would be great. Knowing all the costs upfront would help....down to new wigs,outfits, makeup etc. it all adds up and too many of us are on the edge financially.
re: Ceili/teams class attendance (karma: 1)
By DefyingGravityPremium member
On Wed Sep 26, 2012 04:58 AM
One of my schools had figure classes mixed in with the solo classes. For example, if we had a 2 hour class, we'd do 45 minutes of soft shoe, 30 minutes of ceili/figures, then 45 minutes of hard shoe. That way, there was no, "my daughter doesn't have time for team practice" BS. Worked brilliantly. The culture of the school was that everyone did figures, because that's just what you do when you're an Irish dancer. The other two schools I danced for were very solo-centric, and it was sad. I firmly believe all dancers should do teams because it reinforces the team spirit and camaraderie you want in a dance school.
re: Ceili/teams class attendance (karma: 2)
By califeisgirl
On Wed Sep 26, 2012 06:23 AM
Ok, here is my ramblings on the subject:
My current is infamous for requiring team involvement. Not only for majors, but for regular feiseanna even. You sign up for your hard shoe, soft shoe and if the school is doing figures at that feis, you sign up for those to, no ifs ands or buts about. (Though if you had a really, really good reason you might be able to get out of)
And though it is required, not too many people really complain about. I think there's a few reasons.
1. Those that don't like it just transfer out. Which I guess you can see as sad, but the ceili and figures have become an important part of the school, so you can't really seperate them.
2. Our figure class is every week, sandwhiched between, I think, a novice/prizewinner class and a Oireachtas/championship class. For most people, it is simply a matter of showing up a hour and a half before or staying an hour an a half later. There is a convience about it. The rule is if you miss a figure class, you are not supposed to attend a solo class until you take a figure class...though that's not really enforced.
3. There's a weird build up about figures at my school. So you start learning soft shoe dances. Once you have demonstrated skill in those you get asked to start attending the figures class...GOODY! Then, you do beginner figures for awhile until you get to novice and move up into open figures. Now, in addition to learning open two and three hands, you are invited to do an 8-hand at Oireachtas. It is handled like an invitation, but really it is opened to any novice/prizewinner who wants to do it. You do a couple of years on teams, then you usually get placed on a choregraphy. Because we normally have 2 to 4 teams per age group, hard workers get moved up to better teams. The better team you're on, the more of a chance you have at being asked to dance on a Nationals or Worlds team. So in short, there are levels to figures at my school, which constantly give people something to move towards. You want to make it to the top, which is what spurs people in solo dancing as well.
4. Success in teams is celebrated just as much as solos. We don't do teams just to do teams. We do teams to do them well. So we do a lot of drilling, exercises, repeating. We have dancers that just do teams at the school, usually older dancers that are in college or busy with school, or siblings that never really got into solo dancing.

So what are my feelings on the subject?
I think, especially in the beginning, if you want to build a teams program you have to require team participation. It starts as pulling teeth, but once the dancers realize that figure competitions as just as competitive as solos, it might fuel their fire.
It might also help to stress the fact that teams and figures are all about reinforcing Irish dance basics. Which can only make you a better solo dancer. Ceili works on posture, stamina, timing, foot placement, stretching through space....the list goes on and on. Teams can only help a dancer get better, they can't take anything away.
Do you divide your figure class by levels? One of the most frusrating things as a more experianced dancer is to have constantly go over things for beginner students. It may help to seperate your beginner teams from your advanced dancers for awhile, so you can work on learning steps with one and getting down to brass tacks and the nitty gritty (and yelling) with the other. It will help stress this is serious business that demands focus and effort.

Ok, end of my rambling. I hope at least some of it made some sort of sense!
re: Ceili/teams class attendance
By califeisgirl
On Fri Sep 28, 2012 06:41 PM
Ann I was pondering your problem...Have you considered reaching out to old/"retired" dancers. The ones that got burned out on solo dancing, or were too busy with school to do solos that might be interested in coming back just to do teams? It might help.

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