August 16, 2018

Subjectivity, occasional lack of 'A' game, 17 times

In the 17 competitions Mini danced in last year, (called feis - pronounced ‘fesh’) she never won a single first place, let alone the two she needed to advance to Open Championship.  Handful of 2nd places.  Loads of thirds.  Plenty of other placements.  Sometimes we would return home completely empty handed.  Sometimes we left a feis scratching our heads about the subjective judging.  

OK, I admit, I did more than scratch my head.  I seethed.  With my background in dancing - I danced for 8 yrs as a kid -I know more about dancing than a lot of moms.  I often disagreed with the judges’ final placements - whether or not I thought they should’ve placed my kid higher.

I often witnessed other competitions followed by the corresponding awards ceremony (because sitting around waiting for my girls to dance often left me sitting at a stage watching other dancers).  At times I knew the judges got it wrong, and the body language of other dancing families that I don’t even know made it clear that I wasn’t alone in my thought process.  Imagine the frustration for parents footing the dancing bill, who have no recourse.  Subjectivity at competitions is almost as horrible as the money pit of dancing dresses.  

There were also times when we weren’t surprised by the outcome at the podium.  Mini didn’t always bring her A game.  She ran out of steam.  Her arms flapped at her sides instead of staying cemented in place.  A pitfall for a tall dancer.

I love this pic (looks great in my
 phone but I
can't print it because it is grainy
and I don't know who took it!) and
while I try to hide my kids' identities,
I think the weird wig
look does that for me here. 
I can't bring myself to cover up the face.
 Mini:  orange dress, back stage,
 reacting to the moment she realized
that she qualified for the National
Championships for the first time ever.
Ultimately we decided that all those competitions helped prepare her for the midwest Championships (Thanksgiving) when she smoked many other dancers who had already achieved Open Championship status.  Mini was still in Preliminary Championship, but qualifying for National Championships was a huge achievement.

Mini planned to retire from dancing (something she has done since kindergarten) before she starts high school in the fall.  She didn’t want Irish dancing commitments to hinder her from being fully involved in high school sports and activities.  While I left the decision up to her, I did agree that high school was a decent stopping point.  I must admit that the prospect of having my Irish dancing bills cut in half had me dancing a jig.

National Championships in Orlando would officially be Mini’s final competition.  The end was in sight.  I didn’t want to stress the kid out, but I kept thinking:  ‘When is she going to get these 2 first places, so she can end on the top?’  I began to casually mention local feises and ask her if she was interested in registering.  

As I signed her up for the ones she opted for, I wondered would this be the feis when all the stars aligned.


Gigi said...

Congrats to Mini! Her excitement is palpable through the picture. And no, I couldn't pick her out of a line up if you paid me.

Ernie said...

Oh, how I love this picture! Sums up the emotions of the event so well - even to people who don't follow Irish dancing. And, yes the wig is quite the identity concealer, as much as we HATE it.