Monday, November 8, 2010

Gone Feis'n

first let me explain what a Feis is, it is a term used in Irish Dance for a Dance Competition. My family and I have been involved in Irish Dance for about 15 years. what started as an after school activity soon took over most of our spare time and cash. We have traveled as far as Ireland and Scotland for the World Championships, and as close as a local High school for a Feis. One year we spent over half of our weekends watching Irish Dancers Compete in Jig's, Reel's, Hornpipes and Slip Jig's. At one point we had all 6 of our children competing. We are down to just 1, our last.

Competition brings out the best and the worst in all of us. I have been the biggest fool and also quit composed and ladylike in those awkward moments as a parent in a competitive sport. Mostly I have learned to muffle my disappointment and take my frustration to a safe place. Either way I have become better at hiding my natural instincts temporarily so I don't humiliate myself or my family. My children are much better examples of maturity when it comes to disagreeing with results.

Being the Mom with the most time and experience in Irish Dance in our dance school I am often called on to give advice and help other parents learn to navigate through the dreadful minefield of Parental furry. They come to me and ask me, "What happened?" "What can my dancer fix?" " How could that unskilled dancer have beaten my skillful child?" I have become pretty good at calming them down and making them see the bigger picture. For years I drove home after a Feis with multiple dancers with very different results. I had to learn how to to celebrate the wins of some while commiserating with a disappointed child. We tried to not make a big deal over any of it. This weekend I found myself telling both the celebrating and the disappointed families that once the results are revealed its over, and its about the next competition. The agony of defeat often leads to re dedication and a determination to do better next time. It can also lead to self doubt and discouragement not only on the part of the dancer, but also the parent.

A few years ago one of my dancing daughters went 6 month's without placing at a Feis. She had decided that if she didn't place at the upcoming Feis she would quit. She had become embarrassed at her failure, and Irish Dance was causing her more heart ache than she could bare. The next competition came and she placed. Not that high but out of about 15 dancers she got 6th. that was just the encouragement that she needed to get back on that stage and work some magic, which she did. A month later she placed 2nd at Nationals, and went on to become a 3 time Regional Champion. She is now a teacher sharing her love and skill with about 80 dancers in her own school.

This last weekend the smiles out weighed the frowns. Disappointed dancers cheered on fellow dancers as they stood on podiums with large trophies. Mom's that hoped for a better day for their dancers took pictures of happy families joyfully hugging their winners. As usual the competitors showed their supporters what true sportsmanship is all about, and made all the parents proud of every ones accomplishments for the day both on and off the stage. Now its on to the next Feis.

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