Forum: Irish / Irish - Feiseanna

The Finishing Touch (karma: 5)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 05:56 AM
Made sticky by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2010-06-21 10:03:14 stickyfied!

We all know that a particular colour or design of dress (or indeed particular dressmaker) isn't going to make you win or lose - but we also all know that appearance counts. We have to have the look of a champion.

I stress that most things on this list are personal opinion - just because it's here, it doesn't mean you have to do it. I also wish to point out that doing the things on this list will not make you win if you don't dance up to the required standard. But, from beginners to open champ, I think these things make a difference. I hope other people will add to this list as well...

For the Boys

1 - Boys look sharper when they're in full black from the waist down. Standing still, you probably are. But, dance in your costume in front of a mirror. Do you sometimes see a flash of bare leg when you're kicking up or trebling hard? I know it probably seems a little girly but pull those socks wayyy up and glue them if necessary. Seeing skin just doesn't seem right to me.

2 - Spray trouser legs with static guard, before you dance, so static electricity doesn't make the pant legs stick after a kick. This one’s more for personal comfort than visual effect!

3 - If you wear a tie - pin it. It sounds obvious but a flapping tie looks amateur. Make sure you're fully buttoned-up before you go onstage.

4 - Girls are at a slight advantage in that our dresses and long sleeves hide arm problems more often. I'm sure you've heard 'keep those arms in' 1000 times before so I'm not going to say anything. What I AM going to say, is watch those hands! Do NOT flex the wrist - keep it straight down. Hands, in fists or otherwise, that go off at a right angle look silly. The inside of your wrist should be against the body - don't turn it out.

5 - Girls are always advised to wear dress shields or a t-shirt under the dress to absorb sweat. Not that girls sweat, you understand. Consider the benefits of wearing a t-shirt under your dress shirt - or even buying three identical shirts and switching between rounds.

For Everyone

1 - Before a feis, make a point of ripping off old scummy duct tape and replacing it with fresh. Not only will this be more likely to stop you slipping, but tape scum around the sides of the shoe looks horrible. Make sure you check your heels as well.

2 - Following on from the above - when shining your shoes, don't forget about the inner heels. This bit often gets kicked when practising clicks, and so it might need a polish. So might your straps - the leather often gets scuffed around the buckle area. Black nail polish might be something to consider for fixing last-minute scrapes and knocks, although it’ll probably only last one feis!

3 - If you’re a white tape wearer, don’t do the entire strap! With the shoe on, mark the places where the strap meets the rest of the shoe and ONLY tape in between those two points. If you tape the whole thing you make it obvious that you’re taping, and look a bit of a moose to boot. Be careful that you don’t get shoe polish on the tape.

4 - Attach your number neatly. If you’re using ribbon, clip the ends and tuck them in. It’s a distraction to have them hanging out and flying around, and also increases the likelihood of it coming off altogether. Also, make sure your number isn't flipped up or turned around before you go on, so the judge doesn't have to ask you when they’re writing down numbers! Likewise, when you’re walking back to place just give it a quick check to ensure it’s still facing the right way. And try to take care of it when you're not dancing...don't let it get bent up and wrinkled from sitting down.

5 - Take necklaces off or secure them to the dress or whatever you wear underneath. Chains flying loose are distracting. Watches and bracelets are too, and give you just one more thing to worry about.

6 - When on the sidelines waiting to dance or anywhere near the stage: do NOT practise or dance on the spot, especially in hard shoes. It’s inconsiderate to the other dancers and if the judge can see you, it won’t leave a good impression. You also may get the feis organiser into trouble for scuffing the floors!

7 - When you walk on stage - stand still. Breathing far too heavily, moving your shoulders, or swinging your body from side to side makes you look unconfident - and is far more noticeable when you're wearing sequins and diamantes. Of course you have to breathe - but try and stay as still as possible so you look relaxed and confident.

8 – Walk on stage proudly. You’re on show from the moment you step out, so the performance begins way before the music does. If you lollop on to stage you look sloppy.

9 - In some countries, the grades line up on stage with everyone else. Do not talk! Once you are on stage you are performing, so shut up (it’s also very rude to the other competitors) and keep that dancer’s posture.

10 - It doesn't matter much whether you stand in first or fifth position during the 8-bar introduction. It doesn't even matter whether you point on count 4, 5, 6 or 7. But, make sure the point is CLEAN. Go straight from standing to pointing - don't roll your ankle, don't make more than one movement, don't point and then change your mind and move it over a little bit. Don’t do the awkward “press toe heavily on floor then move it forward”. One clean movement. Anything else makes you look fidgety.

11 - When you're finished dancing and you walk back to your place - walk proudly! So many people drag their feet or slump their shoulders. You're still being watched - the judge might not have written down their final score yet. Hold your head high and back straight, walk with as much turnout as you can muster, and tread lightly yet briskly. When waiting for the bell, see above - stand still!

12 - Similarly if another dancer cuts in front of you when walking back to place, stop and let them pass. Don’t speed up to beat them and don’t walk around them – if you stop you look confident, controlled, and sportsmanly.

13 - Don’t bow to the musician after dancing; only after the bell. It wastes time and if you’ve finished at the front of the stage and they’re at the back, you’re effectively just mooning the audience. When you do bow to the ADs and musos, keep your head up, smile, and try not to ‘fall’ out of the bow.

14 - When walking offstage, you're still being watched. Don't forget you are a dancer! I know you’re dying, but no lolloping and don't 'die' until you're out of sight. Whether you're still on stage or walking past your competitors - try to keep your breathing normal and not to collapse. Get to the toilet. It also freaks out your competitors if you're serene when coming off after an energetic performance. Die elsewhere!

15 - If at a local feis, where the 'stage' is just plywood straight on the floor, you still need to try and walk off respectfully. Instead of walking diagonally across it and back to your seat, maybe cutting in front of another dancer, walk off to the side (if possible) and straight off along the edge. Do NOT go too close to the adjudicator, and don't let your dancerly posture go until you're out of their eyeline. Don't start pulling faces, scratching your head or whipping off the tiara.

16 - If you have to stop dancing and the bell isn’t rung, panic not. Quickly look to check where your competitor is, and move back to your place as quickly and neatly as possible. It might even be best to walk straight to the nearest wing and walk back around the perimetre. Once back in your place, stand still and keep the dancer look about you. Posture is still essential. Crossing and turnout is still essential. You may well get the chance to redance, so bad behaviour might count against you.

17 - If you lose a part of your costume and the bell is not rung, continue dancing. When the dance is over, ignore the mishap and point, bow, walk back to your place as above and wait for the bell to be rung again. Only retrieve the item after pointing and bowing to the judge and musician for the second time.

18 – The Face. I can’t honestly advise you to smile throughout your dance, because I could never manage it. And if it’s unnatural to you, you’ll probably look demented. But the look definitely extends to your facial expression and that’s doubly important if you have a mishap. If you have a slip that’s enough to knock you but notenough for the bell to be rung, you HAVE to keep your face calm and serene. Don’t look down, up, pout, or in any other way show that you’ve messed up. Consistency – if you were smiling before, keep smiling. Don’t let it show on your face.

19 - Similarly - have someone watch your face when you dance. Do you sing your steps, leave the mouth hanging open, stick your tongue out, tilt your head, look as if you're about to kill someone? Keep your mouth closed (if you need a gulp of air, do it when you turn your back), chin up, and eyes up and straight. Darting eyes make you look like a frightened kitten. Awww, poor kitten.

20 - Results time! In the grades, you may be called up to receive your award on stage right after dancing. In champs, you’ll probably have to wait a while. In either case, check your appearance before you go up, and even if you’re disappointed look happy! Shake the adjudicator’s hand firmly, say thank you, and keep the dancer look about you throughout the presentation. If you want to have a hissy-fit, the stage is not the place for it. If you’re in champs and they’re doing reverse order, keep your emotions in check. Extreme reactions of any kind don’t sit well with everybody watching. Whatever happens, however they do the results – congratulate other dancers if you have the opportunity and look happy throughout.

For the Girls

1 - Make-up - do you match it to your dress? That's fine - as long as you don't match your whole face to your dress. Blue eyeshadow up to the eyebrows, orange blusher, hot pink lipstick? Not a good look. In my personal opinion it is far better to keep the shocking colours either to the lips OR the eyes, if you really want to go overboard. A taupe/brown and gold eyeshadow combo with a red lipstick will look good no matter what colour your dress is, as will nice eyeshadow to match your dress worn with baby pink or nude lipgloss. Sometimes 'circus clown' springs to mind, and it just looks tasteless. Of course, purple eyeshadow with red lipstick can look tasteful. You just need to know when to stop applying!

2 - Thinking of wearing a bun wig? Have highlighted hair? You need to match the wig to the underside - i.e. your natural colour, not your highlights. When you put your hair up into a bun, the wig will cover the highlights and you'll only see the hair at the back of your head. If you match it to your highlights, it won't co-ordinate properly.

3 - Shoes - don't tell me you've forgotten. Messy shoes not only make the adjudicator think "Well if they can't be bothered to tie their shoes properly....", but it also makes every step seem slightly sloppier. Properly laced shoes not only give the initial impression of someone who cares about her dancing, but also makes every move look that little bit sharper. So - get into the habit and lace your shoes up neatly for every class and home practise as well as feiseanna.

4 - If you wear a full wig, get someone to check that it isn't caught in your zip or sequins just before you go onstage. You might even want to consider asking your dressmaker to hold off the sequins around the shoulders if you're prone to catching, or covering them up with clear Sellotape or cellophane. I can't explain it - it just looks horrible.

5 - Wig storage. To prolong the life of the wig, do NOT turn it inside out. Ever. My first wig's previous owner stored it this way and it was unbelievably ratty. Keep it in a hairnet and preferably in some kind of box. Small vanity cases are perfect.

6 - If you're hugging your competitors, be careful! Do try not to get make-up on their costume.

7 – Keep socks clean and matched. Many dancers buy brand new socks for each feis – it’s not necessary, but if you’re recycling old ones make sure they are the same length and that you haven’t got one bright white one, and one dull one. And save the grey ones for class.

8 - Whether you tan or not, cared-for legs are always a good idea. Make sure your legs are moisturised and not scaly – which is even more important if you tan. Dry legs ruin a good fake-tan.

9 – Perhaps sometimes it’s essential, but please consider NOT wearing elastics and extra hard shoe straps around your ankles. They look horrible, cut you off at the ankle and often make you look a bit of a wimp. If you absolutely have to have elastics, use a thick one to tuck in the laces about your arch, then use a short thin one laid right across your leather strap, then about the heel. That way it only looks like you are wearing the leather strap, but you have the extra tightness of the elastic. Really, four loops about your ankle and the top of your foot is just messy and distracting. If you can’t live without them, do the decent thing and white-tape over them.

10 – We’ve all got belly buttons; we won’t be impressed if we can see yours. Pull bloomers up and wear a vest top, t-shirt or leotard to cover up the midriff.

11 - Make your legs match your face. If you tan your legs, use bronzer on your face. Don't use too much face makeup so that your face doesn't match your legs. It looks daft.

12 - If you have really light coloured bloomers, you can sometimes see through them. Nobody wants to watch a kick and see Snoopy! Make sure you check to see if you underwear shows through your bloomers, especially for the younger dancers who tend to wear more colourful novelty drawers.

13 – If you’re wearing nail polish, make sure it’s neat! If you end up holding a trophy you’re going to want to see properly polished talons in those podium shots.


Anything to add?

21 Replies to The Finishing Touch

re: The Finishing Touch
By riverdancefan
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 06:17 AM
Louise-in most of the US, grade results are posted on walls and champ results are announced at a stage with no adjudicators present. We have heard of the process you described and it has been done occasionally. So perhaps you want to add how competitors should behave when awards are done in the manner I mentioned?
You listed quite a LOT of suggestions-perhaps make it a sticky? Even our school handbook does not have such detailed recommendations for competitors, and teachers might want to use your handy reference guide.
re: The Finishing Touch
By lgb
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 06:20 AM
Great post - thanks for taking the time to make it! Some really good tips in there!
re: The Finishing Touch
By RAID_Babemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 06:27 AM

Amazing information. I have a Feis this weekend and I'm taking all of this information on board. Especially loving the tip about smiling, I don't, however when I attempt, I actually do look like I'll kill someone, lol.

Terrific post!
re: The Finishing Touch
By reel_faerie85member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 07:02 AM
When going up to recieve an award its always nice to shake hands with your competitors and say well done to them! Hopefully they will do the same back to you. It makes you look a good sport, even if secretly you are major wazzed off that you want to cry.

Don't run off stage if crying if you forget your steps. I saw an open dancer do this, it was really unprofessional she was old enough to know better. So you messed up, make it up, improvise, smile even more than usual knowing you TC is probably going mad in her seat, and just aim to do that dance properly next time.

Cheer on other age groups and cheer for those who win, even if they are not your school or friends, they have worked hard to get medals and trophies. I noticed at the feis on saturday the little ones got lots of cheers and then us older ones were forgotten about! We work hard too! Give us some credit!
re: The Finishing Touch
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 08:24 AM
I would add:

For the Girls- remember that when you are in your wig, the judges can see you, and will remember you. I've seen a judge go side stage and chew out a champ dancer who was being distracting while the grade dancers were dancing, and you can bet he remembered her when she got up to dance later that day. First impressions are important!

For the Guys- floppy pant legs make a dancer look sloppy. If you don't want to get tailored slacks, consider making a tuck in the bottom of your slacks, and either pinning it, or stiching it.

Great suggestions Louise!
re: The Finishing Touch
By Nona_Premium member
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 09:08 AM
Care for your dress!
Dont be going on stage with loose threads hanging down, sequins/stones dropping off. velcro coming loose, zip not done all the way up! Its messy and distracting.
Occassionally stones etc will come loose while you dance and you cant help that. But, if you check your dress's condition before a competition you will notice any problems long before you get anywhere near the stage.

Good one Midlander.
re: The Finishing Touch
By kicklecubicle
On Mon Jun 21, 2010 09:53 AM
I have to say, you should have looked at me at my last feis for a full picture of what NOT to do!

My class costume was sewn crookedly, and this made me feel so disheveled. It might be barely noticeable on stage, but it really bothered me, so much it was distracting. It was beyond my control at that point, but I think if I had gone with the blouse and skirt, I would have at least felt tidier. I wish women could wear a waistcoat, tie and trousers, actually- wouldn't that look sharp? (I am not actually sure if this is against the rules?)

I know it's out of one's hands sometimes, but if your dress is ill-fitting, needs a cleaning or just looks old n' busted, it might be better to wear a temporary costume until the issue can be fixed. I seriously think a nice blouse and skirt would look a hundred times better than the most expensive champion dress, if that dress is all stained and rumpled up.

My number was looking kind of ratty by the end, as well. It's good to take care of that, I think.

I also had a bit of a shoe disaster/emergency and I had so many layers of padding and elastics with my shoes, it felt like I had on robot boots. Not recommended (but again, it's sometimes beyond your control).

I was so tired, I don't even really remember how my presence was. I am pretty sure a lot of stuff just went flying out the window. All of my hard work and preparation turned out to be a waste of time because I could barely keep my eyes open. If you're operating on just a couple hours sleep, some things naturally end up taking priority over other things. Like... "Not collapsing >>> Is my hair straight?". So, it is important to get a very good rest before your competition.
re: The Finishing Touch
By sccr_and_irish
On Mon Aug 02, 2010 02:03 PM
This is a great post. Thanks for posting this!
re: The Finishing Touch (karma: 1)
By saoirse3473member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Aug 03, 2010 01:59 AM
great post-
just gotta add that while sometimes it is necessary to keep emotions in check when awards are called out, but speaking from that personal experience, nothing feels as good as knowing your work has payed off. if other dancers, are upset, then thats fine, and completely understandable. Ive seen a girl smart-mouth and say mean things about a dancer who won her second first in prelim, and its awful. the girl who had won was jumping and screaming, she was so excited, and who could blame her? and the nasty girl who was bad mouthing her was upset because the girl was so excited. honestly, if a dancer (or parent/teacher/judge, etc) has a problem with the placement of a competition and wishes to vent about said placement, then please, do it when in your own privacy. its so rude to be a bitter-betty publicly when someone is enjoying the rewards in which they've earned....
re: The Finishing Touch
By irishreel
On Tue Aug 03, 2010 04:17 AM
Great post, thank you! Maybe you want to add that a good look depends also on what you have eaten. First of all, we all need to have the proper energy from a good breakfast/lunch, then we will take advantage from a relaxed face because we will not be distracted by lacks of energy and our face will have a healthy color, not a greyish skin which is typical of those who are not eating.
I would like to give karma but I cant, as I am new.
re: The Finishing Touch
By RAID_Babemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Aug 03, 2010 05:46 AM
^ Good point and to add to that...breathe!

I tend to stop breathing when I have to do jumps or something that requires lift. I'm not sure, why, but I do. Also when I get tired, so make sure you breathe through your nose and don't stop!

At the last Feis, I got really tired during the last step of my Primary Jig (well, I did have to do the lead around twice!). Anyways, I stopped breathing part way through the last step. I felt sick afterwards; but mum told me, I went white!
re: The Finishing Touch
By ibutterfly
On Tue Aug 03, 2010 02:57 PM
Thank you this post was very imformative in fact I am posting on my refrgator door so ddd can see it, She does sem to follow most of it but not too sure about the stopping and letting the other dancer going ahead of her, alosthe comment about judges watching you even when off stage is so true one dancer from dd former school ws danincg behind the judges during comp before her, well the judges turned glared and when she danced beautifully I might add she din't even place, remarks of disrespect etc were put on herunder comments1
re: The Finishing Touch
By GnKArdrey
On Mon May 16, 2011 12:42 PM
Great post. I agree that these kids should have good sportsmanship. It is ok to be upset with placement but to be rude or obnoxious about it on the sidelines is wrong in so many ways. Just remember to keep yourself in check..
re: The Finishing Touch
By lovinID
On Tue Oct 11, 2011 02:54 PM
Great post!!! I would also have to agree that the dancers are always in the judges' eyes! They need to be respectful at all times... not only for the judges but for their school as well. They are representing their school. I appreciate that our TCRG expects good behavior from her dancers and no back-biting towards other dancers.
re: The Finishing Touch
By Angelekenna
On Mon Nov 21, 2011 01:55 PM
Awesome post!! I totally agree with the makeup thing! Up till last year, I was a clown face. Now, I think I have a bit better taste! (Black eyshadow, liner, mascara, tan bronzer and spraytan, pink lipstick, and all the other stuff I put on my face .
re: The Finishing Touch
By twinkletoes2021
On Thu Mar 22, 2012 09:32 PM
Great job;this must have taken you forvever. Really good advice. Thank you

Just a question: but how long did this take you??
re: The Finishing Touch
By Dancing_Mumma
On Wed Mar 28, 2012 05:16 AM
This is fantastic advice, I will be using this as a check list for upcoming feis. My help with my nerves
re: The Finishing Touch
By chirofeiser
On Sat Nov 03, 2012 02:26 PM
Fantastic tips! I would add one thing: do not lean on the walls! A lot of thee feiseanna are held in gymnasiums, and the walls are...not clean. In any dress, but especially in a white dress, this is a big problem!
re: The Finishing Touch
By mabsmom
On Mon Oct 21, 2013 09:24 AM
Thank you for such a thorough post. This is wonderful information, especially for parents of new dancers to share with their children. We would have avoided some "not optimal" feis days had we read this sooner!

I would love to add that parents should encourage their dancers to be polite to other dancers side stage and on stage. Unkind stares or "you're going down" have been observed/overheard in recent months and it is disappointing. While each dancer is hoping to do their best and place well, I believe they should wish the best for their competitors. Luckily the negativity is limited to a few, we just hope it stays that way!
re: The Finishing Touch
By CarleIrishDancer
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 05:51 PM
As for tanners, make sure it won't rub off. The last feis was my first time using tanner, and 20 minutes before I danced, disaster struck. My snow white socks were COVERED in tanner! I had to quickly buy a new pair(forgot an extra), and by the time I was done, my stage was ahead, so I literally just made my dance with seconds to spare. BE CAREFUL WITH TANNERS!!!
re: The Finishing Touch
By CarleIrishDancer
On Thu Aug 28, 2014 05:57 PM
Reel Faerie85,a friend told me that during her competition, this one family kept rudely making loud remarks. When one poor dancer messed up her dance due to the distraction, they said "YES, she messed up! Now she won't win". So I totally agree with your comment. If you have a problem, complain privately. You never know who might be listening.


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