Forum: Irish / Irish

Irish dance competitions.
By IrishDanceTeache
On Fri Jan 10, 2014 05:07 PM
Moved to Irish by hummingbird (128773) on 2014-01-12 11:01:53 Moved to a more appropriate forum.

Hello to everyone over here!

I used to do Irish dance competitions, also called 'Feis'.
I did them because I wanted to become a professional dancer. But to be honest. I really really didn't like doing them.
But my teacher that I had back then. Told me that I had to do them if I wanted to become a professional Irish dancer.

I was wondering.
Are there more out there who also go to them, because you have to. Or are there dancers who really enjoy going to these Irish dance competitions?

I also don't find them very fair, to be honest.
How can anyone watch over 3 dancers at the same time? And as a dancer instead of being able to 100% concentrate on your dancing. You got to keep an eye on the other dancers on stage. That you don't dance into one another.

And being forced to wear those really expensive dresses. It's not fair to others who can't afford to spend over 500 pound on a dress.

Anyone else who feels like me about these competitions?

12 Replies to Irish dance competitions.

re: Irish dance competitions.
By Spiorad
On Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:23 AM
Hello!

You know if you click here: www.dance.net . . . we actually have a whole board for just Irish Dancers.

Fesianna are definitely a different beast and it is OK not to like them; they're aren't for everyone! You can still love the art of dancing and want to strive to be a professional without competing. However, just keep in mind that in audition settings you are, generally, given a number to put on, taught a dance and then you dance it with several other girls and then they make cuts. A lot of times you are asked to makeup something on the spot, but you are still dancing with other people.

I'm running late to the last day of comic con but I will come back later! :) definitely check out the ID board though! there's lots of great stuff there!
re: Irish dance competitions.
By IrishDanceTeache
On Sun Jan 12, 2014 04:30 PM
Thanks, I'm new here and I didn't see there was also an Irish forum on dancenet.

But thankfully they put my thread over there. It's nice to have found a forum for Irish dancing only.

I can't wait to hear from other dancers and teachers over here.

Sylvia
re: Irish dance competitions.
By hannicamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jan 12, 2014 06:55 PM
Well I am still new to the world of Irish dance and I am only doing my second feis next weekend. However as I am in adults I like them. The on stage bit is a little awkward, but the other adults are nice and I look forward to seeing them. They are all from a different school to me.

Do I dance my best at a feis or on any stage? No not really. But whats the point in doing a performing art and not being able to perform it? So I go for them anyway. They have helped with my confidence if nothing else.
re: Irish dance competitions. (karma: 1)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jan 13, 2014 02:42 AM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2014-01-13 02:42:46
There are plenty of people who absolutely thrive on competing - in Irish dance and in any activity. Competitions wouldn't exist if people didn't want to do them, and unlike other dance forms where performance has always been the main goal (e.g. ballet, ballroom), Irish dance has always had a competitive aspect even if not as formalised as it is today.

Personally, I HATED competing but I love competitions. I hate being the one on stage, because I'm a nervous wreck and I don't think I ever danced to more than like half of my true capability when competing, but I love competitions. I love going to watch, I love helping people out with it. And I love the dresses.

Dancing three at a time - well, that doesn't happen all the time. Two is more usual for a local feis. And the thing is, judges have different eyes to the rest of us. They can see minute differences, faults and strengths within seconds. I remember watching X Factor once and Simon Cowell put his hand up to stop the auditionee within seconds. She was petrified thinking he was about to say she was hopeless at singing - he actually said she was that good that he didn't need to hear any more. Judges aren't formally trained I guess, but the training just comes from a lifetime of experience and honing their "eye" through teaching and constantly watching and evaluating. So yes, they can watch multiple dancers at a time and still give a fair result.

You don't necessarily need to be great at competing to perform in one of the shows, however I do gather through gossip that LOTD, Riverdance etc don't even audition anymore - they "headhunt" dancers from competition. So it's a good way to get seen. Also competing gives you that experience of being on stage in front of people, perfecting dances to a deadline rather than just "one day", etc.

I sometimes think it depends how old you are when you started competing. How old are you? Obviously there are exceptions but if you've been competing since you can remember, then it's going to feel normal. If you first competed at age 16 or something like I did, then it can be more nervewracking as the older you get, the more you think about things. Kids will just get up and dance, adults will worry about "what ifs". Kids have no fear. Adults overanalyse. Perhaps I'm just tarring all older teens/adults with my own brush :)
re: Irish dance competitions.
By AutumnLily
On Mon Jan 13, 2014 08:44 AM
Hi,
at first I didn't really want to take part in competition but after my first feis I changed my mind. I love watching other, more experienced dancers and meeting dancers from different schools and countries.
I'm member of a performing group and competing isn't our main focus plus there aren't many feissana in Mainland Europe so I enjoy every oppurtunity to attend a feis.
I see competing as a way to get better (it really is a great motivation to work harder :)) ,to see my progress and what needs more work.

It's true they are not always 100% objective because Irish dancing is still art and everyone is looking for something different and likes different styles. I also made many mistakes, was out of time or bumped into the other dancer because I was nervous but I feel competing helps me in my development as a dancer :)
re: Irish dance competitions.
By tinydancer1988
On Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:13 PM
The fact that judging is entirely subjective makes feises difficult. You may think that you danced your best, and still get nothing. And yes, feising can be mentally stressful because of all of the elements (the adjudicators, the audience, the nerves, and the other dancers).

That being said, nothing can really prepare you for dancing in a show quite like either dancing in a show, or competing. Think about it- when you're dancing professionally in an Irish dance show, the people in the audience are judging you, there's a huge audience, there's lights in your eyes, and smoke, and dark spots on the stage. There's 20+ other dancers on stage with you at any given time. The music is played live. There's a million things distracting you, and you are paid to dance your best every. single. night. If you can't handle the distractions in competition, how will you handle them in front of a huge crowd?

Also, if you're going to an audition for a professional troupe, there is going to be a lot of dancers on the floor at once. It's something that you're going to have to get used to if you want to be a professional dancer (in any type of dance). You don't get to audition for a company one at a time typically. There will be a large group of girls all dancing at once, learning a routine together, and then all doing it together. If you watch someone else and she messes up, and then you mess up, you're out. If a judge doesn't notice you because you don't stand out enough, you're probably out. Hell, if another dancer trips you, and the judge doesn't see it, you're probably out! It's harsh, but it's how the industry works. Only a few people make it, and they are usually the people with the most competitive spirit, and the most real-world experience.

(this is why I am not a professional dancer)
re: Irish dance competitions.
By sarahrID
On Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:30 PM
Edited by sarahrID (260058) on 2014-01-14 12:33:31 Typos! Stupid phone!
I personally love competing. I am very competitive by nature, and competing also gives me great motivation to practice and improve. I enjoy getting comments from the judges for things to work on. I also think that many of the challenges of feising are similar to those who do performances. To me, a feis is a performance. Executing your steps (and doing them well) while being watched by any audience is a challenge under any circumstances.

It can be difficult when the judging is so subjective. However, I find it helps to keep things In perspective and remember I don't dance just to win. At one feis, bumped into an adjudicator outside the bathroom a few hours after I danced, and she said I was a lovely dancer and that she enjoyed watching me. I recall having getting mixed results that day, and not feeling happy with all of my dances. Additionally, as an adult dancer, sometimes I think we all question why we do this. Honestly, that adjudicator's comment meant so much to me, and if I'm ever looking for motivation to practice, I think back to that, and not the medals I won.

So long story short, I generally love all aspects of competing, but I find that I love it more when I'm not hung up on winning.
re: Irish dance competitions. (karma: 1)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Jan 14, 2014 01:05 PM
I've danced with a competitive school for the past 16 years, and when I eventually get my TCRG I'll encourage competition as well. I was never very "good" when it came to competing,but I have learned and gained SO much from it that I can't deny the positives it gives students:

1. It gives them a solid goal to work toward. Whether it is placing a certain way at a feis or a looming major motivates dancers to really work on perfecting their dances, having that goal is incredibly important.

2. It gives them exposure to getting used to dancing in front of a discerning audience. Nursing home performances are fun, but if you want to do something like getting your TCRG or dance in riverdance, the skill of being able to keep your cool in front of people that, without as doubt, will be able to see every imperfection of yours, is absolutely essential.

3. The feedback you get in your comments during competition is priceless, as it is like you have teachers other than your own giving you ways to improve and grow as a dancer. Teachers are human, and having multiple sets of eyes on your dancing is really, really helpful.

4. You learn how to REALLY present yourself. You do NOT have to have a crazy-expensive dress or dip yourself in fake tanner before you compete. However, you DO have to look neat and ready to dance. I have paid for every single pair of shoes/wigs/dresses/etc that I've ever owned, and I have realized that there are always ways to cut the cost. You learn what is essential, figure out how to cut your costs, and still look good.

5. Students learn sportsmanship. They learn how to congratulate (and truly be happy for) dancers that place higher than them, and they also learn how to win with grace as they understand how hard it is to do that.

I suppose I could go on, but those are some of the top reasons that I'm totally cool with competing, and they have nothing to do with trophies (or lack thereof).

I think that recreational dancing DOES have it's place in Irish dance, but if you want to MAKE something of your dancing, then enhancing th experience by competing can't hurt, and will more likely than not help in a BIG way. It's not that competitive dancers aren't as in love with Irish dance as recreational dancers are, it's that they take that passion and put it through a trial by fire. It's not easy, but hey, that's the point ;)
re: Irish dance competitions. (karma: 1)
By StepdancerPremium member
On Tue Jan 14, 2014 07:49 PM
Most sports/arts have a spectrum of participation ranging from the casual participant to the competitive. If you love cross country skiing, for example, you could pursue anything from the occasional ski outing with friends to the Olympic team. If you're into ballet, you could pursue anything from a limited community education course to a major international dance company.

Irish dance is unusual in that in many, if not most, places, there is little or no spectrum--it's either compete or don't dance. If you like to compete, you're all set, but if you don't like or can't afford to compete, you're stuck. I've seen far too many talented, interested dancers walk away from ID because there was only one way to participate, so for me, this isn't about whether competing or not competing is good or bad (both are valid, and a personal choice), it's about options, about having different levels and means of participation available. Irish dance isn't just another style; it's part of our culture, and as such, it belongs to all of us. There should be room for every dancer, whether a casual dancer at a ceili, a Worlds hopeful who trains as hard as an Olympian, or anyone in between.
re: Irish dance competitions.
By tinydancer1988
On Wed Jan 15, 2014 07:04 AM
Stepdancer- So true. My boyfriend asked me if, since I was getting so frustrated with competitions, I could just "not compete anymore". I was like "okay, but what would I do then?" There aren't really any ceili classes, the dance teachers would literally lose all interest in what I was doing, and no one would take me seriously anymore.
re: Irish dance competitions.
By LizDancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Jan 15, 2014 08:33 PM
I always liked feises. I'm a retired dancer now, although I do still teach for my studio. But when I was growing up I definitely liked feises. I'm a very competitive person by nature, and I enjoy have very concrete goals and very concrete measurement of my progress, which competitions can provide. Of course, the stress of competition and all the hard work followed so many times by nothing more than disappointment can definitely be hard, and I don't miss competing any more. But I did that for ten years and achieved a lot of my competitive goals before I retired, so I think that's part of why I don't miss it.

Not to get too philosophical, but now when I look back on all the years of feises that I did as a child, I really feel that it's part of what helped me grow into a successful adult. One of the hard lessons of the "real world" is that hard work is incredibly important, but also that sometimes hard work doesn't necessarily guarantee good results. I feel like it's almost become a mantra of our time that "if you work hard enough, you'll succeed!" but that isn't always true. Sometimes you work really, really hard and you don't succeed. Because things are out of your control, or there just happened to be someone else who was even better than you. And what competing taught me (especially the highly subjective and unpredictable nature of feises) is that when this happens, you just have to pick yourself up and try even harder next time. And maybe then you'll succeed. Or maybe it'll be the time after that, or the time after that. So I suppose what feising from years 8 to 18 taught me was to be resilient. I learned not to give up immediately after trying really, really hard at something and failing miserably, but instead to shake it off, not get discouraged, and try again. And that's a very valuable lesson.
re: Irish dance competitions.
By boleyngrrl
On Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:29 PM
I'm probably in the minority, because I prefer feiseanna to majors.

I love the excitement and general craziness of majors, but I find I'm so stressed that I don't enjoy dancing at them and I do a terrible job of it. If I don't dance well, I remember it as a bad experience, even if every other aspect of it was great. I don't like not enjoying dance, so I think this years AIs was probably my last true "major." I had tons of fun there, danced as well as I could have asked, and it was a great way to finish the major circuit. I'd rather end it on a great memory wishing I would have done more.

I love feiseanna. They're usually less pressure, and you can really put it all into your dancing without the distractions of a major. Even if you have a bad day, it's not as hard to shake off. It's fun getting ready for them. At feiseanna, you don't need the dress as much, unless your TC mandates it. Also, you don't need to spend over 500GBP for a dress. There are so many dressmakers out there, as well as a great selection of used dresses, that you have tons of options for under 500GBP. I love my dress because it's starting to finally feel like "me" (new dress), but I still love dressing up for costume feiseanna. I love competing, I love seeing my friends, and, honestly, I like showing off a bit and developing my onstage attitude.

If you wanted to be a professional dancer you did need to do feiseanna. Your teacher was right. Most shows require a certain level of dancer to even audition, which you can really only achieve by winning your way to it. You might be able to find a few that don't have strict requirements, but the big shows really require a pretty high caliber of dancing.

No one dances over three dancers at a time, with the exception of ceilis and figures. With ceilis, yeah there are many people, but they're all doing similar things. With figures, it's most of all the overall impression and exactness of the dance. For comps, the biggest group of dancers is 3 at one time. For the older dancers, it's two. Part of dance is self awareness. You have to be aware of where you are and where the other dancers are. If you want to be in a show, you should really like and appreciate that, because in choreography you really need to be aware of where your fellow dancers are for lines and to make sure you don't bump them or miss catches. These aspects are especially important in professional dancing, when errors here can lead to termination of employment.

A rather random sidenote--your website looks pretty good (I saw your post on the dance school post), but gives no information on you. When I look for a dance school, I look for information on who will be teaching me (or my child, for parents), because it's pretty important. Even a basic bio giving dance history, school history (maybe?), and at least full name and credentials will get you more students.

Best of luck and I hope this was helpful.

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