traditional sets

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 IrishCentral.com. 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.