Forum: Irish / Irish - Beginners

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First Feis (karma: 18)
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 23, 2005 01:44 PM
Made sticky by imadanseur (79325) on 2005-04-23 16:52:50

Hopefully this will help you in your first feis, since I've noticed a lot of quetstions on this board about the feis.

First off, don't sign up for a feis, unless your teacher says you're ready. You don't want to go, and get your mind set on winning, and not place. Your teacher knows your dancing, so let him/her decide if you can go.

Once you have your teacher's permission, you need to find the feis' site, to register, or register on a site specifically made for feis entries. To find the feis you're going to, and it's official site, go to . . ..

To register, you can also go to Efeis has tons of information, and you can even check results after the feis! Another site I haven't used, but have heard of is This site doesn't seem too difficult to use.

Once you have entered, and payed, it's time to wait for the big day!

Before you leave
Get all of your maps, directions, hotel confirmations, syllabus, etc. ready. You don't want to get lost, or lose something important. Try to get directions from your teacher, or the hotel you're staying at.

I do not reccomend using MapQuest to find your feis hotel!

We used mapquest to find the hotel for my first feis. They left out a crucial turn in the directions, and we got totally lost and barely had time to check in for our dances.

Things to pack
-Soft shoes
-Hard shoes
-poodle Socks(Make sure they're the same length!)
-Sock glue
-School Dress/Solo Dress/Blouse and skirt
-A shirt with a wide neck or the neck cut out (to wear under your outfit)
-Hair spray
-Hair gel
-Bobby pins
-Hair elastics
-Plastic number holder(if you need one)
-Breakfast for the morning of the feis (I usually bring yogurt, and fruit with water)
-Things to do while waiting for results

The night before the competition
When you get to the feis hotel, put your things in your room, and hang up your outfit for the next day. You don't want it to get wrinkled or messed up. After, I usually put on my socks and shoes, and go downstairs to practice on the stages.

When you get downstairs, check in, so that the people running the feis know who's there, and who isn't. They usually give you a program and a number, too. Once you've done this, find the practice stages. Usually there is only one, but I've been to a feis with 3, and a feis with none. If they don't have one, you can usually find a deserted area to run through your steps.

You don't have to use music when you run through your steps, just make sure you get the beats and the timing correct. If you haven't already, pick out your steps, and concentrate really hard on crossing your feet, turning out, pointing your toes, and other essentials.

The big day
Eat the breakfast that you packed as soon as you get up. When you are finished, put your wig on, or take your curlers out. Put on your make up, too. Once you are done with your makeup and hair, put on your dress or skirt and blouse. Make sure everything is tied, and fastened. Then put on your socks and shoes. Make sure your shoes are tied tightley, and your socks are glued on. Put on your number, and make sure it is tied securely.

Once you are all dressed and ready, go downstairs. Find your stage(s), and stretch until your competitions are ready. When they call your competetion number, go up to the table or podium to check in. Once you've checked in, either sit down on the chairs next to the stage, or just stand up. When you see that the competition has been changed(They usually pin them to a bulletin board, so pay attention to that board ), get ready.

When you walk on, make sure your arms are straight, and you are smiling. Not a cheesy smile either. Those look horrible, and won't win the judge's attention. The musician usually fingers the music first. When he/she starts really playing, the first two will walk out. If you are in beginner, usually there will be someone to count you off. When you start dancing, have a lot of energy. The judges like that. Remember to smile, and have a good time. You didn't come just to win, you came to have fun, too.

When you finish your 2 steps, bow to the judge. Once everyone in the line has danced, and the judge nods or says thank you, you all bow together. Smile at this part, and make it look like you deserve to win because you are so full of life.

Usually a feis will have a separate room for medals. Find the room after you dance, and check if your competition results are up. If they aren't you get to.....


Thats the best part of a feis ;)lol

Keep checking in the awards room. Once you get your placements, collect your loot, and tell your teacher.

The official rules
Make sure you know these!

1) In the case of all solo and team competitions in all grades, the age of a competitor on 1st January of the year in which the competition is held will determine the right of entry. For the purposes of this Rule a competitor whose birthday occurs on 1st January shall be deemed to be under the age attained on that date.

2) Competitions are open only to amateurs. Teachers or other professionals cannot compete in the category in which they major. All dancers must be pupils of a person currently registered with An Coimisiun as a Dancing Teacher of any category

3) A competitor may be disqualified for any of the following reasons:

a) Conduct unbecoming a lady or gentleman.

b) Failure to report on time to compete. (Penalty: disqualification from said event).

c) Falsification of age or other important facts – i.e., teaching, award winning, competing under another competitor’s name or number, etc.

Penalty for (a) or (c): Competitor will be disqualified from the Feis at which the occurrence happened and from all NAFC – registered Feiseanna for a period of one year beginning at the date of the occurrence.

4) Competitions may be closed if there are no competitors at the assigned stage ready to compete when the competition is scheduled or announced. May not pertain to situation where competitors are involved in stage conflicts.

5) Solo competitors in Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Novice or Open (Prizewinner) competitions:

a) Must compete in their own age group.

b) Must be prepared to perform two steps in each event.

c) Cannot change competition on the day of the Feis.

The Standard Age Groups, all levels are contained in the handbook on page 7.

6) Steel taps or “bubble” heels on dancing shoes, display of awards, wearing of shorts or other unconventional dress is prohibited. Authentic Gaelic dress is desired. Modest attire is encouraged when competitor is not dancing.

7) Competitor’s number must be worn and visible to adjudicators when performing in all competitions, except in Championships; use of plastic number covers is discouraged.

8) Awards will be determined in proportion to the number of entries in each competition and to the degree of proficiency shown.

9) Complaints must be in writing stating names and other factual information and signed by the complainant. A ten-dollar fee must be enclosed and presented to the Feis Chairman within one hour of the occurrence. The fee will be returned if the complaint is upheld.

10) The Feis Committee and any organization affiliated with same, will not be held responsible for personal injury, property loss or damage. Destruction of Feis property or rental property will be punishable by law.

11) The Feis reserves the right to reject any entry for cause, to cancel all or part of the Feis and to limit competitor’s performing time. The decision of the Feis committee is final in all matters connected with the Feis.

12) Competitors must answer all questions as required by the Feis Entry committee, including teacher’s name, and enclose the entry fee when mailing. Failure to do so will result in a rejected entry. Entries must be postmarked on or before the closing date or they will be subject to a late fee of $_______ (Determined by Feis).

13) Entrants in any Championship event may not enter in any other (Grade) events, but may enter in Figure Dances. Entrants in Championships should specify, on the entry form, their choice of set dance. Entrants cannot change competition or category on the day of the competition.
Standard Age Groups for Open Championships – See Handbook on page 7

Open Championship competitions for boys and girls must be held separately.

** In the case of back – to – back Feiseanna, the second Feis shall use an alternate set of age groups.

Boys/Girls competitions must be advertised separately yet may be combined with the next higher age group if there are less than 5 competitors entered. You can only move them up one age group. Boys and Girls CANNOT be combined. This rule applies to championship competitions only.

14) Preliminary Championships are open to those who, at any NAFC recognized Feis:

a) Have placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in each of the Open (Prizewinner) solo categories, and

b) Have never won 1st, 2nd or 3rd in Open Championship.

A dancer who wins two First Place awards in one calendar year will move on to Open Championship the following year, or as soon as the second win is achieved, in any age category, in the following years. Only in the case of back-to-back Feiseanna (successive days), in which case the first win in the first Feis will not change the dancer’s status for the second Feis.

A dancer is required to perform a light shoe dance (reel or slip jig for ladies and reel only for men) and a hard shoe dance. A Feis can opt to offer either (a) a set dance or (b) a jig/hornpipe.
Standard Age Groups for Preliminary Championships - See Handbook page 7

Preliminary Championship competitions may be combined.

15) Championships and Preliminary Championships require at least three adjudicators.

16) First Place winners in the Open Championship category cannot return to a Preliminary or Open (Prizewinner) competition. Placing in a Regional or National Oireachtas does not change the status of a competitor.

1. A dancer may move from Open to Prelims IF he/she did not legitimately place into Open.
2. If, after dancing for two years in Open, a dancer has not won, he/she may return to Prelim status.

17) The status of the dancer does not change unless there are five or more dancers in a competition.

18) Grade Categories: Competitors have the option to remain in the same category for the remainder of the Feis year.

The syllabus is to contain all grade categories. A feis committee may combine two consecutive age categories into the higher of the two categories within that grade when less than five (5) competitors are entered. Boys and Girls CANNOT be combined in any Grade.

Beginner Grade: A beginner is a competitor who has not taken a full year of Irish Dance lessons, thereby giving beginners a full year with such status. A Beginner must move into the Advanced Beginner category the next year.

Advanced Beginner Grade: An advanced beginner who wins 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place will advance to the Novice category in that particular dance. Competition dancers are reel, light jig, slip jig, traditional treble jig and traditional hornpipe., as a minimum requirement.

Novice Grade: A novice who wins a 1st place will advance to the Open (Prizewinner) category in that particular dance.

Open Grade (Prizewinner): A competitor who does not qualify as a Beginner, Advanced Beginner or as a Novice

Adult Beginner: An adult beginner is a competitor who never took Irish dancing lessons as a juvenile and is over 18 years of age.

19) Musicians and adjudicators cannot be approached during a competition by anyone except the Feis Committee. No one can approach them while a competitor is performing.

20) Musicians employed by the Feis Committee will be solely under the direction and management of the Feis Committee on Feis day.

21) Figure Dancing: Teachers or team captains are responsible that their teams are complete and in position when the competition is announced. Competitors may compete in the next higher age group; however, a competitor may compete in only one age group.

22) In matters pertaining to adjudication, the decision of the adjudicators is final.

23) Adjudicators are to monitor the quality of music at the stage(s) to which they are assigned.

24) The use of flash, video, digital or motion picture cameras is prohibited during a dance competition except for press use or Feis Committee documentation.

25) Standard Figure Dancing Competitions are optional. Should a Feis offer Figure Dancing Competitions, the Standard Age Groups and Categories contained in the Handbook on page 7, are required.

Have fun feisin'!

42 Replies to First Feis

re: First Feis (karma: 8)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:35 PM
Edited by weezy (29559) on 2005-04-23 14:23:12 Formatting
A good idea - but since we're all from different countries it works a little differently for some of us. I'll do the Great Britain version...obviously the advice about not entering a feis until teacher allows it, and what to take with you, is universal advice so I won't reiterate all that lot.

<B>Entering a feis</b>
So, your teacher has permitted you to compete. If the feis requires dancers to enter in advance, then your teacher will let you know which dances you are doing and how much it will cost. You'll need to give the money to them, because in the UK only teachers can send off feis entries. There is no online system. You may get your number card in the post, or you may have to pick it up on the day. Your teacher will advise you on this.

However, most feiseanna in the Midlands region are "pay on the day". If this is the case, you need to find the office or pay-in table as soon as you arrive. Let's imagine you are entered for reel, hop jig, light jig. You'll ask the nice lady for "three solos and a trophy". Solo dances usually cost about £2 per dance to enter, whereas trophy dances are about £3.50. I'll explain trophy dances later. The lady will take your money and in return give you a competitor number (which needs to be pinned to your costume - don't forget a safety pin or two), and some tokens, which are usually cardboard discs or strips. You'll have three in one colour/shape, and a different one for your trophy dance. That's just so you can't pay for a solo and pass the ticket off as a trophy. I digress.

<b>Your competition</b>
Look on the timetable/syllabus to check which room/stage you should be in/at. If dancers are onstage, ask one of the spectators which competition is currently going on to give you a rough idea of how far behind they are running. Use this time, as ghillegirl suggests, to get ready...dress/stretch/etc.

When they call your competition, you need to line up at the side of the correct stage with 1 of your tokens. A stage monitor will take your token and direct the first two or three dancers in line to take to the stage. Space yourselves out evenly, and stand in preparation either with feet crossed or in a V, as your teacher has instructed. If you're a young beginner they will usually count you in when the music begins, but generally not for the older dancers. When the music stops, point/bow and walk back to where you started from. The judge will take a few moments to write down the final score, and then will usually ring a bell to signal you to point and bow to them, then turn and point/bow to the musician, then walk back to your seat. If they haven't got a bell they'll nod or say "thankyou".

Now, if you <I>weren't</i> first in line you have to wait until you are! When the dancers before you walk back to their starting places and wait for the bell, you will walk onto the stage and stand behind one of them. When they walk off, take a step forward to take their place, and wait for the music to begin with your feet in the correct position etc. The rest of the process is the same as I described above.

<B>Order of dances</b>
Usually, you will dance your light dances in this order:
1) Reel
2) Hop jig
3) Light jig
4) Slip jig
After all the dancers in your group have danced the reel, the stage monitor will say something like "can we have you back up for your hop jig please, girls". Take your next token up and queue in the same way as before. If you're not entered for a particular dance because you haven't learned it yet, then simply don't go and queue up until they call a dance you ARE entered for.

Often, you will dance in a hall where the floor is separated into two or three different stages, and another age group/level may be dancing on the other stage. It's therefore imperative that you check you're on the right stage! It also means that, because there'll only be one musician, you might have to sit and wait for a bit (after all the dancers in your group have finished), for the other group to finish.

Unlike in the USA, your results will be called out by the stage monitor from 1st downwards, and you will go and receive you medal from the adjudicator and shake his/her hand. Don't forget to say thankyou!! Each feis schedules awards slightly differently. Some halt the dancing halfway through, ie: Every dancer in your group will dance reel and then hop jig. They will then award medals for those two rounds before continuing with the light jig and slip jig. You'll get your medals for those two rounds after the SH round is complete. OR, you may have to dance all four dances before receiving any prizes.

<B>Trophy dance</b>
Once you've received your solo results, it's time for the trophy round. Instead of medals, you will compete for a trophy (hence the added cost), and dancers have a free choice of which dance to perform. Let's pretend that your teacher has allowed you to choose any dance to perform in the trophy, and you placed 4th in the reel and 6th in the ligh jig and hop jig. You'd probably choose to dance your reel in the trophy, since it was the judge's favourite of your dances.

Line up side stage with your trophy token. The stage monitor will organise you into a line based on which dance you're doing - reels go first as per the order shown earlier, and stage etiquette is the same as for the solo rounds - you will start and finish (point/bow) in the same way as before.

So, you really gave it your all in the trophy dance and you've ended up in third place! Well done! After shaking hands with the judge and thanking him for your trophy, you'll need to walk to the back of the stage to line up with the other dancers. Stand next to the dancer who took the place above you. When all dancers are on stage with their trophies and medals, the stage monitor will count 1-2-3...on three, point and bow and then walk back to your seat to show off a bit!

<B>Moving up a grade</b>
Now - here's another important bit. In your first feis you'll probably be dancing beginner or novice. That means that, if you place first, second or third in any dance (including the trophy), you move that dance up into the primary grade. If there are less than 5 of you in your age group, though, you'll have to stay in novice for the time being. When you receive you medal or 1st-3rd place, you will need to go over to the stage monitor who will take your name and school and record it on a results sheet. That's to prove you've moved up to the next grade.

If, however, you're a bit older and have to compete in the Primary grade, you'll need to get a first place only to move up to the next grade. I'll just clarify how this works.

At this imaginary feis there were 15 dancers in your competition and you placed like this:
Reel = 4th
Hop jig = 6th
Light jig = 6th
Light trophy (reel) = 3rd
Apart from your three medals and 1 trophy, you've also earned the right to dance in the primary grade in your reel. So, at your next feis, you will dance a Novice hop jig, light jig and light trophy as well as as a Primary reel and light trophy.

Ghilliegal has helpfully posted a list of official feis results but again, these are slightly different in the UK. You can find them at which is the Midlands UK regional council website, or on which is the site for the Southern region. The North West region also has a site but I can't remember the URL - one of these sites will probably have a link to it.

Other good websites for feis advice are: and
These sites are also GREAT for feis information - the directions, syllabus and timetable for most UK feiseanna are posted there at least a few weeks before each feis but usually your teacher will hand out paper copies of the same info.

If you live in Ireland there isn't a specific feis info website although the An Coimisiun site, , does have some regional information.

re: First Feis
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:45 PM
Thanks for adding on!
re: First Feis
By JenDancesIrishmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 23, 2005 06:10 PM
Karma to ghilliegirl369 and weezy for such thorough, helpful posts! Ghilliegirl's applies to me since I'm in the U.S...but I'm really glad Weezy defined the situation for the U.K. as well.

Facing my first feis in just a couple of weeks and ever so nervous (and excited, and ready to kick butt lol!) This information was very helpful and definitely sticky-worthy. Fortunately, I've been to a feis before so I have a better idea of how they go. I'm just a little worried about being all on my own though, and not having a parent or anyone there to help me pass the time, watch my stuff, etc. :( My hubby will be there sometimes though, and maybe other family members occasionally. I sure hope so!
Thanks again for being thorough and helpful. I will certainly post up after my Queen City experience to say how it all goes!
re: First Feis
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Apr 24, 2005 05:49 PM
Good luck!^
re: First Feis (karma: 1)
By Cluichmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 02, 2005 09:13 AM
Thank you, this is really useful!
re: First Feis
By short_red_headmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 09, 2005 07:39 PM
Wow, thanks!
I so exited for my first Feis now!
re: First Feis
By emmers
On Sat May 21, 2005 12:34 PM
I've competed in 6 feises before, but reading this just makes me even more eager to get to the Memphis feis in June! yay! oh, and THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!
re: First Feis
By crazy4irishdance
On Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:21 PM
i have a question...for my first feis (I'm 13 w/ a school dress and danced by myself in beg. cuz i was supposed to be in adv. beg. but the TCRG moved me down...ugh) but i got a 78 and i know that doesn't sound too good so i was wondering how u guys did on ur first feises
re: First Feis
By PlumeriaPremium member
On Mon Aug 15, 2005 04:25 PM
Thats a great post for someones first feis. It looks like you have a lot of experience with feises and irish dance.


I think that info will help a dancer out a ton. :]
re: First Feis
By KnotworkMolltPremium member
On Mon Aug 15, 2005 09:00 PM
Great idea! Thanks for doing that. We have a handout for first-feisers called "Feis 101" that you can download from . . ..
re: First Feis
By ndoggydancer
On Mon Sep 05, 2005 02:57 PM
Wow that was a long list and very helpful I never knew it could be so hard and so much.
re: First Feis
By missingAcastlePremium member
On Tue Oct 18, 2005 09:16 PM
A little extra thing I'd like to add...
One of my teachers taught me to take up the whole stage, claim the stage as your territory.

Dance like you KNOW you're going to win. Big smile, head up high and all that. Make it look like you're saying, "hey judge, look at me, look at what I can do."

re: First Feis
By Burkegirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Oct 29, 2005 05:22 PM
Just so everyone doesn't get their hopes up too much, there's a slight chance that you may not place. I dance in the Mid-West region, and on average, there are 20 girls in my groups-but I'm in Prizewinner. For beginners in my region though, there's usually around 15-20 girls in a group. The Ajudicator can only place 6, so don't be too discouraged if you don't place. I just wanted to let everyone know, because some dancers go into a Feis thinking eveyone wins, and the expirience of not placing can be quite tramatic when they thought that. Just have fun and enjoy yourself!
re: First Feis
By butterflydancer1
On Fri Nov 25, 2005 04:07 PM
Hey, don't know if anyone really knows this yet, or if it's even true, but the other day, my teacher told me that, dancers were not allowed a solo dress, or wig untill they get up to novice. I'm pretty sure that this is a new thing, but I guess that beginners have to wear a school dress, and their hair anyway that looks good. He said it was so the beginners had something more than just a higher level of competition to look forward too.
Don't know if it's true or not, just thought I would pass it along.
re: First Feis
By wee_dancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Nov 25, 2005 04:23 PM
hi butterflydancer1, i'm not sure about an comisiun (sorry i can NEVER remember how to spell it), but for an comhdhail, it's always been like that while i've been dancing, which is at least 5 or 6 years. it is really good, but it's also a serious pain, because i've just started bak, and i'm not sure if my class dress fits me so i might need a new one - but i've only got 2 Beginner dances left to win!! i'd much rather just spend more on a solo, but hey selling the class dress once and for all will be a really good feeling!!! claire xx
re: First Feis
By wee_dancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Nov 25, 2005 04:24 PM
hi butterflydancer1, i'm not sure about an comisiun (sorry i can NEVER remember how to spell it), but for an comhdhail, it's always been like that while i've been dancing, which is at least 5 or 6 years. it is really good, but it's also a serious pain, because i've just started bak, and i'm not sure if my class dress fits me so i might need a new one - but i've only got 2 Beginner dances left to win!! i'd much rather just spend more on a solo, but hey selling the class dress once and for all will be a really good feeling!!! claire xx
re: First Feis
By emilytheprincess
On Thu Jan 12, 2006 04:08 PM
wow! this information is really helpful and informative. i am not yet an irish dancer but when i am, i will surely not be as scared going into my first feis with all of this information!
re: First Feis
By ally_joyce_x3
On Mon Jan 16, 2006 02:42 PM
awww thanks rosie!!! i feel so much better now, and i can't wait for the raliegh feis!!!
First Feis
By sancer
On Thu Feb 02, 2006 03:26 AM
Thanks for fantastic advice! I feel SO motivated to go BIG at my next feis.

I have one question though: What are the basics the judges are looking for in beginners? I have looked through the forum and couldn't find any advice. Maybe the more experienced dancers can help on this one? Thanks!
re: First Feis
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Feb 08, 2006 06:12 PM
^ They're looking for the basics- being on time, turned out feet, on your toes, straight back, etc. They don't expect you to be perfect.
re: First Feis
By Eninajmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Feb 20, 2006 03:47 AM
this info is great! my first feis is coming up and this is helping to maybe ease my mind a little! i know i'll be prepared!
re: First Feis
By Alaskan_Dancer
On Tue Mar 07, 2006 09:30 PM
My first feis is coming up too! I'm really nervous, but this really helped! :)
re: First Feis
By lilirishdancer
On Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:28 AM
Thank you soooo much!!!! :D This is really helpful I am hoping to do a feis soon! I am looking forward to doing one but I will robably be really nervous and do badly. I dont mind because as you say it is just for fun and i will be thrilled to b doing it anyway!
re: First Feis
By irishandballet
On Sun Apr 06, 2008 04:25 AM
Wow. Thank you so much!! I'm really exited now! Can't wait till my first feis!
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