TIP: Run-thru Feis Practice (It Won Me 1st Place!)

05.13.09

I made a break thru in my training for Feile Denver. I've told you I get stage fright and my biggest problem is that I freeze up on stage and forget my steps. But at the Denver feis I didn't forget a thing and I won first place!

The reason why I was able to keep my cool was because of my new 'run-thru' practice. I take, for example, my slip jig. I dance the whole thing thru without using any energy. I don't try kicking my butt, don't travel as far, don't even break a sweat. I dance it very softly and focus only on the sequence of steps rather than perfecting them. I then turn around and face the back of the room and repeat the run-thru. Then I turn sideways and repeat again.

Long story short, I run through the whole dance 4 times facing each wall of the room. Finally, to make sure I'm not losing form I face the mirror and dance the entire slip jig a fifth time, but this time, all out, exerting all my energy and giving a perfect feis presentation.

I repeat this 'run-thru' practice for all my feis dances. Sounds like not a big deal right? Well, for me, I'm what you would call a 'power dancer' so my biggest strength is my energy, power and strong execution of steps. That can be a problem when preparing for a feis, though because I use up all my energy just going through the dance once or twice and I don't memorize the sequence of steps as well as I should. Thus resulting in a freeze up when tons of people are watching.

When I 'run-thru' however I'm able to concentrate on the sequence of steps. In the meantime, facing different directions can create a distraction as well, which is good since at a feis there are hundreds of distractions and things to make you nervous.

I'd never tried this until a couple months before Feile Denver. I've been in Preliminary Championship for 3 years now and not until I discovered this new form of practice did I win 1st place.

Keep in mind though, this may NOT be the type of practice YOU need. For some dancers this could only hinder you. For example if your strength is grace and lightness of feet and you have difficulty kicking your butt or pounding your feet hard enough this is NOT for you. It would only start bad habits.

If you're someone who forgets your steps in front of the judges and doesn't have trouble with strength and power in your steps, this is exactly what you need. It was exactly what I needed!

Article written by Shelly Allen
Photo by Shelly Allen Photography

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