My First Oireachtas

Article featured in Diddlyi Magazine.

The Oireachtas was a lot of fun! I was so glad I flew down a day early to watch the two Shelley School 8-hand teams compete. Our U10 and U15 team both did very well. After watching them compete I hung out the rest of the day with a couple of the Shelley School girls and their families. Tina Shelley highly recommended we return to see the figure choreography competitions that were taking place later that afternoon.

It was so exciting to watch. Most especially the dances performed but a school called Celtic Steps based in Colorado. Their enthusiasm and showmanship as well as perfectly executed synchronized movements was staggering. It was so inspiring to watch them. They blew all the other teams out of the water. I almost asked for an autograph or two after they finished!

The next day, as all the other Shelley dancers started heading home, I started getting ready to compete. Ladies 20 and Over was scheduled to compete at 10:45 AM. I really wasn’t too nervous and it surprised me. It did make sense, however since I’ve already done 11 other competitions this year. I got dressed, applied the wig and sock glue, stretched and ran through all my dances just like at a Feis.

When it came time to compete I was pleased with how fast everything was moving along. Normally Feiseanna are on average two hours behind and there’s tons of unanticipated waiting. The Oireachtas moved with the schedule nicely. At least for me it did.

Then I saw them. Six years ago, when I was just starting to learn Irish dance at the Shelley School, there were three championship dancers I used to watch and admire. Since then two of them switched schools and I havn’t seen them for a while. Guess who I was expected to compete against? That’s right, both Amy and Tricia were there. I couldn’t see how I could be on the same level as these girls and I felt a little intimidated.

It made me really wonder how much longer some of the other girls had been at this level. But with all this in mind, I took a deep breath and did my best. It was really fun once I got on stage. It’s a rush to try and dance it well when it counts with that many eyes on you, knowing who you’re up against. I also really loved how large the stage was. When you have more room, you dance far better.

In the end I didn’t get a call back, but I didn’t mind. Overall I placed about 30th out of 40. I’m psyched about it! I beat ten other girls where I could have placed last. It tells me that I do belong in this competition. I may be far from winning or even placing, but I wasn’t out of my league, and that’s an exciting thought!

This was a good first Oireachtas and I’m so glad I went. Now my only task is to practice hard and come back next year to really show my stuff.

TAGS: US, western, region, competition, oireachtas, irish, dance, first, beginner, hard, difficult, compete, competition

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