A Gathering Place for Adults Who Love Irish Dance

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I’d Rather be Feising

This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Feis America Magazine.

The gymnasium at the Utah State Feis had been partitioned down the center, the rear half converted into a warm-up and wait room.  To my surprise, teenagers in elaborately-sequined solo dresses dominated the dressing areas.  Confidence waning, I walked around the room, pretending that I belonged. I began thinking of all the places I would rather be: in my dance school, at home, under a rock. Just as I turned to leave the gym, I spotted a group of ladies wearing class dresses.

I looked around the room and found more competing teams.  The adults were costumed in dresses and skirts alike, some adorned with intricate knots and embroidery.  A few adults were practicing their dances, others were sitting in concentration-headphones blocking out the non-stop accordion music.

I glimpsed some ladies who wore the same class dress as me. Walking over to these teammates whom I had never met (they dance at a different location than I), I tried to make eye contact.  All of the women were busy adjusting their wigs and checking their programs.  I felt as insecure as a newbie entering junior high school. Sweat trickled down my spine, and I hadn’t even warmed up yet.

The mock feis my school had hosted helped prepare me for what to expect from the competitive scene, but I wondered what the adults would think of me.  Were they cliquish?  Did they keep to themselves and shun newcomers?  How would my dancing stack up against the adults who had been competing for years? 

Claiming an empty table, I rummaged around in my bag so that I, too, would appear busy.  This is ridiculous, I thought, I bet those adults are nervous and insecure, just like me.

“I don’t think I’ve met you.”  A circle of dancers stopped fidgeting and smiled at my boldness.  Three women and one man introduced themselves and soon we were all relieved to share the burden of tension generated by the competition. Though initial hesitation showed from all of the adults I talked to, a warm singleness surfaced.

“I’m hoping to place in my light jig this time,” One of the women confessed.

“If I get through my dance without falling on my face, I’ll be thrilled,” another admitted.

Soon I noticed that the other adult dancers faced the same fears that I did.  Would we place?  Would we fall?  Would spectators frown on the time given to “older” competitors, or would they accept us as dancers pursuing a legitimate goal?

Soon my fellow classmates arrived and I introduced them to my new-found friends.  We ran through our soft shoe dances together and lined up for the first dance.

The flurry of competition went by like a dream.  I leaped and hopped to the music, the smile on my face genuine.  As we flew through each event, the faces grew familiar, the smiles more frequent.  In between dances, kind words were exchanged and encouragement voiced.  A feeling of belonging, of community, wove through the arena, tying us together like the infinite loops of a celtic knot.  

I found myself at the results table, comparing placings with adults who, a few hours earlier, had been only strangers. When I found that I had placed in five of my eight dances, it felt like icing on the cake. I had gained so much more than medals, I belonged to a new circle of friends.  Not everyone found good news or received the marks they had hoped for, but the encouragement and congratulations exchanged were heart-felt.   

The nervousness of the afternoon had disappeared like a fog at sunrise.  I had met adult Irish dancers from all over the Western United States.  Some of them were at their first feis, like me; others had competed for years, long enough to own a coveted solo dress.  It did not matter that we were competitors.  As dancers we shared a commonality that bound strangers together in friendship: a love of Irish Dance.

As I packed up my shoes, I waved goodbye to my new-found friends.  There is a place for me in this world of adult dancers.  Here I can express my love of dance and be encouraged, recognized, and even accepted.

Irish dancing, there is no place I’d rather be.


  1. Our first feis!! Ah the memories! I really enjoy your articles Christy, and I too remember being relieved that I wasn't the only one feeling totally nervous. That we were truly all in the same boat as adults. Hope that classes are going well at Pack! Hope to see you at a feis in the future! :)

  2. Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the ac complished work. Excuse my poor English. English is not my mother tongue.

  3. I am currently reading it on my Blackberry and will scan it once I get home. I love your site and marketing strategy. Check out my website if you get a chance. My Ballet Lessons Blog - http://balletbiblereview.blogspot.com

  4. The information presented is top notch. I've been doing some research on the topic and this post answered several questions.

  5. I never comment on blogs, but this one is awesome! Thanks.

  6. Saw your blog bookmarked on Delicious. I love your site and marketing strategy.

  7. This is a great site, I love the theme you are using. I Stumbled it for you and bookmarked it on Digg. http://theperfectpointreview.blogspot.com/

  8. Nice website. Great read. http://balletbiblereview.blogspot.com/

  9. I will admit this is the second time I have come across your blog and Im lovin it! I added your blog to my rss reader. Looking forward to see more blog posts!

  10. Please, keep up the awesome work and continue to post topics like this. I am old fan of your page!

  11. ocljlwijlmcds

  12. http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/natures-acai-berry acai berry maxx
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-and-colon-cleanse-2 acai berry pills
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-cleanse acai berry powder
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-free-sample acai berry maxx
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-burn acai berry use
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-pills acai berry supplement free trial
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-research what does acai berry do
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/dr-oz-acai-berry where to purchase acai berry
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-facts monavie acai berry
    http://www.holistictwitter.com/profiles/blogs/acai-berry-distributed-by-fwm-1 acai berry juice

  13. http://markonzo.edu global and other list ashley furniture http://jguru.com/guru/viewbio.jsp?EID=1536072 ashley furniture, cnqfgww, allegiant air http://jguru.com/guru/viewbio.jsp?EID=1536075 allegiant air, wgqqxok, pressure washers http://jguru.com/guru/viewbio.jsp?EID=1536078 pressure washers, dpakq, dishnetwork http://jguru.com/guru/viewbio.jsp?EID=1536080 dishnetwork, hnpfswb, adt security http://jguru.com/guru/viewbio.jsp?EID=1536076 adt security, :-},

  14. Do you want a Rachel Ray Gift Card for $250.00? Please go to http://www.RACHAELRAY250GIFTCARD.TK

  15. jeez lots of of the comments many people put up crack me up, again and again i ask myself whether they in actual fact read the writing and reports before placing a comment or whether they merely read the post title and generate the very first thing that pops into their heads. anyway, it is actually relaxing to browse keen commentary occasionally in contrast to the identical, classic post vomit which i mainly notice on the internet

  16. Free gas for a year? goto http://www.FREEGASFOR1YEAR.TK 7 4 5

  17. Thanks a ton for this, I am greatful for the info

  18. I like the layout of your blog and I'm going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702

  19. I was just doing some web browsing on my Drioid during my lunch at my work place, and I came across something I thought was intriguing. It linked to your website so I clicked over. I can't really find the relevance between your site and the one I came from, but your site good none the less .

  20. outstanding post! great advice, will take on board!


I love comments-tell me what you think!