Got the post-Oireachtas blues

It’s been two weeks since I danced at my regional Oireachtas, and I’m slowly coming out of the post-O blues.

Am I the only one who feels it? All those months of cross-training, eating right, ceili practices and solo sessions in the studio … done. For now, anyway.

For some of us, we’re coming off the high of having performed our best and met personal goals. And then there are those of us disappointed in our efforts on stage or bummed about falling short in placements.

This year, I’m feeling a little of both: I’m elated because my 8-hand team won gold, and we’re heading to nationals in July. And I’m down in the dumps because I let pressure get to me, and I completely lost my head at the start of my trad set. I’d hoped to maintain top-5 status in that dance. Instead, I slipped to 12 (out of 60). Believe me, I was glad to have even placed, but I am embarrassed by my dancing. I’ll never forgive myself for straight-up forgetting how to start the dance I’d been practicing for, well, years.

So, with Oireachtas a few weeks behind me and the new year just two weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to a 2014 full of new goals to keep my spirits high, motivation at a maximum and physical fitness in best possible form:

  1. Memorize all recognized traditional sets. At the start of 2013, I resolved to learn the seven traditional sets recognized by CLRG. So far, I know St. Patrick’s Day, Blackbird, King of the Fairies, Three Sea Captains (2 versions) and the step of Jockey to the Fair. In the next two weeks, I need to learn versions of Garden of Daisies and Job of Journeywork. In the new year, I want to expand on my set dance knowledge, learning as many iterations of the seven trad sets as possible and then learning sets not allowed in competition — in particular, the White Blanket and the Priest and His Boots.
  2. Lose 20 pounds, build muscle. Since August, I’ve lost approximately 20 pounds, but I want to drop at least 20 more to be at my best weight. Health, of course, is most important. I understand that muscle weighs more than fat, and I will try not to beat myself up when the scale doesn’t budge.
  3. Be the best teammate possible for my 8-hand team. We’re heading to nationals, which is a big moment for many of us. I, personally, have never danced at nationals, and neither have many of my teammates. I will continue working on fixing my arms and hands, and I will work on my turnout and crossover. I will be the strongest ceili dancer I know how to be.
  4. I will write more, both for this blog and I work full-time in the journalism industry, and I’m often too tired of the computer screen to head home after work only to prop open my laptop and start typing all over again. Well, that’s going to change. If it means blogging on my lunch breaks, so be it. I want to be writing about Irish dance more.
  5. I want to keep learning about Irish dance and its roots. After attending Blas at University of Limerick in the summer, I’m more committed than ever to learning the history of Irish dance — to learn about the people who shaped the art form that I’ve come to love. As much as I appreciate the modern movements and complicated rhythms, I want to know that I’m honoring those who paved the way for us as traveling dance masters and dedicated teachers.
Yankee Candle fundraiser for Clann Na Cara Irish dancers

Help send my team to Oireachtas!

Hey, dance friends and faithful readers.

In case you didn’t know it, I am an Irish dancer, and I’m heading to the Mid-Atlantic Region Oireachtas with my team(s), but we could really use your help!

Our school is sending two eight-hand teams and four four-hand teams in the adult category. Our teams comprise mainly young professionals and college students — the most broke types of people. Because we’re tight on money and that additional $50 family fee has caused some of us to go on an unintentional starvation diet, we’ve organized a fundraiser to help offset Oireachtas fees.

We’re working with Yankee Candle Co. to sell candles, and our team gets to keep 40% of the sales profits! If we sell enough, we could easily cover the costs of at least the family fees for the 16 adult dancers carpooling to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving weekend.

Orders will be shipped to customers way before the holidays. The deadline to order from our group is Nov. 6. I would greatly appreciate your support.

This link should bring you to our fundraising page. If our group info does not appear automatically, just enter these details in the appropriate fields:

Group number: 990057989
Seller ID: sarah75


RinceBits: Irish dancers making [news]papers

These week, I want to amplify Irish dancers’ appearances in community newspapers and on local news stations — and they’re not necessarily being recognized for their dancing!

Great to see so many Irish dancers making the news for dance abilities, and a variety of other skills and honors.

South Buffalo woman taps heritage to stir Korean flavors into her cuisine, The Buffalo News
I’m proud to say this article is about my pal and teammate Mollie McCabe, a Korean-born Irish dancer who uses cooking as a way to merge her biological roots to her adopted Irish heritage. You may recognize Mollie from her Heartbeat of Home audition video. Not only can she dance, the girl can cook.

Over the moon: Local woman earns spot at World Irish Dance Championship, The Frederick News-Post
Whitney Hanson, a 27-year-old dancer, didn’t get started in Irish dance until she was about 14 — that’s pretty late in the game, considering many world-qualifiers were learning their first dance steps not long after taking their first walking steps. Still, Whitney earned her spot among the best, and she’ll be competing in the World Irish Dance Championships in London. Whitney, who works in a pharmacy, says she practices “between two and six hours every day she isn’t working.” That’s dedication. Good luck, Whitney!

Starring role for Larne’s Lord of the Dance, Larne Times
Morgan Comer, 24, is the new Lord of the Dance — well, one of the many talented dancers since Michael Flatley to play the role of the “lord.” Congrats, Morgan! We look forward to hearing more about your first performance as lead male dancer.

Stepping up for diversity: UI student shares Irish dance, culture as part of homecoming kickoff, Iowa Now
University of Iowa student Meghan Ryan danced at a local diversity festival. As much as her Irish dance backgrounds contributes to her sense of personal culture, it’s her studies in foreign languages that show how truly devoted to diversity the young woman really is. She studied Spanish, French and Arabic in school. Arabic got her interested in the Middle East, and she ended up studying abroad in Morocco this past summer.

RinceBits: Derry parade of champs, win ghillies, ID Vine MVPs

Welcome back to RincePop’s lated RinceBits installment! Here’s a little taste of what’s been happening in the dance world:

  • It’s officially fall, and that means many dancers across the United States — in my region, for sure — are ramping up for regional oireachtas competitions. With that in mind, here’s a little inspiration to jump higher, point pretty and keep those taps in time: Derry parade of champs! Man, I can’t even begin to comprehend how some of those youngsters got SO GOOD in the few years they’ve been walking.

  • As I mentioned a few weeks back, Irish dancer Christy Dorrity’s new novel “Awakening” comes out Sept. 24. Not only is the author a dancer, so is one of her book’s leading characters! It gets even better: Christy will be giving away a pair of Hulluchan Pro Irish dance ghillies to one of her lucky readers. Find out how to enter the drawing here.
  • Nominations for Feisonista’s Best of Irish Dance are in, and it’s now time to pick some winners. Vote for your favorite shoemakers, dress designers, accessory vendors and more.
  • I’m looking for a few good Vine and Instagram accounts to follow. Know of any? I’m talking about original accounts, not aggregators and rebloggers — I want the REAL DEAL. I’ll feature a few accounts in an upcoming article, so send your suggestions my way.

RinceBits: September 16, 2013

1. Irish dancing beauty queens: Two contestants in the Miss America pageant listed Irish dancing as their talent. Both Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey and Miss Illinois Brittany Smith are among the nation’s most beautiful, intelligent and talented women.

Tarpey made it through to the talent round, performing a hard shoe routine to “Reel Around the Sun” from Riverdance. She did not, though, get the chance to answer a question in the interview round.

Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey

Miss Illinois Brittany Smith

Miss Illinois Brittany Smith

2. 100 days until Christmas: As of midnight, we’re 100 days away from Christmas. What better way to prepare than to review my Irish dance Christmas list from last year? I’ll be pulling together a brand new list for the upcoming holiday season — a list sure to include beautiful baubles like this hand-painted O’Rourke ornament, posted to the dance school’s Facebook page over the weekend:

o'rourke ornament

3. Lord of the Dance and King of Pop were planning project: Michael Flatley says he was working on a project with Michael Jackson when MJ died. According to UK’s Mirror, Flatley and Jackson were talking about a dance and music spectacular.

“Once he came to my house, he had just turned 50 and we were born the same year. I said, ‘Why don’t we do ­something ­together and we’ll call it 50/50’.

“We were that close to it ­happening and it broke my heart. It would have been a dream. Michael was such a great performer.”

4. Shine bright like a diamond: Feisonista wrote up this fab post about some of the more striking highlighter hues hitting the dancefloor.

5. “Parade of Champions” book on the way: Top Irish dancers from around the globe have been interviewed for a new book all about, well, champions.

“We have gathered the blood, sweat, and tears of all of the top champions, the dancers who have stood atop the podium, danced in the Parade of Champions, worn the sash, and raised the trophy,” the book’s about me section of the official website reads. “We asked them for their secrets, their inspirations, what drives them.”

Here’s a quote from the book:

Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 10.08.50 PM

Kevinah Dargan’s quote from “Parade of Champions” interview

RinceBits: September 9, 2013

Welcome back to for the second batch of RinceBits, Irish dance highlights and happenings from the past week.

Here’s what’s going on lately:

    1. Last Monday, “Heartbeat of Home” gave select audiences a sneak peek at some of the choreography we can expect from the full stage show to debut later this month. The cast of Irish, flamenco, latin and street dancers appeared on RTE’s “Late Late Show,” for one number, which can be streamed here for a limited time.  It’s also embedded below:
    2. Along with acting as the official unveil of choreography, the HBOH performances on the “Late Late Show” and at the BBC Proms also acted as a fashion show of shorts. Feisonista gives an in-depth look at the style choices made for the dancers’ costumes.
    3. This is a little old, but two major Irish dance organizations have come together. Fellow IrishCentral blogger Christy Dorrity reports on the official merger of the World Irish Dance Association (WIDA) and North American Irish Dance Federation (NAIDF). Some dance schools previously associated with NAIDF have formed their own organization, Rince Tuatha Nua.
    4. And speaking of Christy Dorrity, she’s about to launch a new novel centered around an Irish dancing character. “Awakening” comes out Sept. 24. Christy was kind enough to send me an advance e-copy of the book, which I’ll be reviewing for in the weeks ahead.
    5. Irish dancer-turned-model Coco Rocha rocked the New York Fashion Week runway in an interesting way — by dancing, of course. Though she didn’t get much into Irish dance, the performance was otherwise quite stimulating. Watch it below: 

Irish dance falls and fails

One of my biggest fears is that I’ll bite it on stage.

There’s this one part of the “King of the Fairies” traditional set where you stand still, right foot planted, and brush the left foot out, over the right, back out and then behind — but it’s practically in slow motion in contrast with the dance’s otherwise quick movement. I nearly fell over the first time I performed that step on stage, so I’m somewhat scarred.

But we all take tumbles on the dance floor, forget the steps or run face-first into a fellow feis competitor. There’s no reason to be ashamed. To remind myself that I’m not alone in my clumsiness, I sometimes find comfort in knowing others stumble, too.

Here are a few funny falls and fails by Irish dancers. Hope all the dancers came out of the experience without getting hurt!

Rough start, solid recovery:

Not so much a dancer fail as it is a motor scooter blooper:

This is an actual contest?

These dancers are unbelievably talented. Fast forward to 1:06 to see the first take of this video, which features a pretty epic fail: