December 4, 2020

a different kind of tank, wrapping it up

Raise your hand if you're tired of Irish dancing? Am I the only one with my hand raised? (Maybe I should've asked who is TIRED OF HEARING about Irish dancing).

I've been at this for over 10 years, my friends. I want out. My hope was that Curly would follow Mini's example and quit as she started high school (in a year and a half, who's counting?). High school is jam-packed. Recently Curly told Mini that she still wants to dance in high school. Groan. I don't plan to make her quit. She loves it. I get that. It is just DRAINING.

7 or 8 yrs ago I let Mini get in a hot tub at the hotel after dancing on a ceili team. The deal was don't mess your hair or makeup. We still had to go to awards. My other dancing mom friend thought this was very gutsy on my part knowing the teachers (different than our current school) would shoot me. A kid has got to be a kid.

Anyway, Curly did her photo shoot with Sean after her first two rounds. She was like, I didn't know where to look. Sean even showed up to watch her soft shoe round, told her she looked amazing. Very sweet. Geri reattached a fake lash that had a life of its own. We felt like we had our own staff.

Strike a pose.

95 girls were registered to dance. About 25 didn't show up. Typically they recall top half. They still recalled that many even though the overall number was much lower. Translation: the recall round was very generous. 

Curly was one of the first dancers slotted to dance her set dance after the recall (3rd and final round, then tabulation and awards). She danced fabulous.

Because I ate off of Curly's egg plate that morning, I had initially been worried that I might start puking if Curly had a stomach bug. I had told Mini that she might have to drive home. 

Mini:  I will pay for a hotel room for the night before I drive home. 

Fortunately, that was not an issue.

In normal times, a thousand people cram into one big room to listen to awards announced for whoever competed that day. Long-ass ceremony. I loved the new schedule. All day things moved fast. They did awards at each separate stage with one person per dancer in the room - immediately after competition ended. Hours earlier than normal times. 

First they announced the top 10 dancers. Curly was thrilled to be one of the top 10. Those dancers remained in their little bubbles. Mini and I had made a list of roughly 12 dancers who we thought might make the top 10. Every dancer we picked made that list, and another dancer we thought was a possibility placed 11th. 

They placed the other dancers starting at 47th place. Then they called the top 10 up to stand spread apart in front of the stage. 10th place went to a girl who we thought might get 11th or 12th. Curly's number was called next.

9th place.

Curly headed up to the stage to get her award. I looked at Mini and shrugged. I really thought Curly danced more consistently than some of the girls who placed ahead of her, so I was a little surprised. Still, I knew Curly was shooting for top 10 so 9th was good. She's been top 10 for the last 5 years, which is a huge accomplishment. One year she came in 4th. Last year she was also 9th, but this year she danced better comparatively. The top 4 places were exactly as we predicted them. 

When Curly came off the stage, we congratulated her and I asked her how she felt. She said she was happy, but thought she might've placed higher. A moment later she made a bee-line for her good friend who came in 4th. Curly gushed joy and excitement for her as that dancer has never made the podium (top 5). 

Mary, her teacher, came over and told us that she peeked at the scores before the final round and she noticed that one judge had tanked Curly in her slip jig (best round). We were like, "HUH?"

Mini pulled up the judge scores that were now available online when we got to the car. That's when we learned just how awful this TANKING was:

There are three judges for each round. New judges rotated in for each round.

     In her first round Curly earned:  9th, 11th, and 12th

     Her best round, soft shoes (slip jig): 3rd, 9th, and 44th

   In her set round:  2nd, 4th, and 12th

We felt the 9th in soft shoes was low, but at least it was ballpark. Her slip jig was top 5 of all the other competitors. Easy. Then there is some moron judge. Perhaps she should find a job more suitable for her. 44th? WTF?! 

This represents the worst part of Irish dancing. Subjectivity. Clearly this woman is incompetent, even though I just said it is subjective there is a clear HUGE difference between her other placements and 44th. What was she looking at? Mini continued to do some research and realized that this same judge gave a dancer who didn't recall 23rd place in the slip jig. Translation: this was a dancer who didn't recall because she was in the bottom 33% of the dancers. Her soft shoe was no where near worthy of 23rd place - over 20 places ahead of Curly. Come on.

A group of dancers from
our school after awards.

I apologize if I sound whiny. My kid danced great. 9th place is wonderful. I just hate to see her robbed of the higher placement that I think she deserved. There are lots of layers here, like the dancer who attends our school who is a poor sport and just plain mean and bossy. 

Every dance school has one of these kids, and the mom is a true nightmare. Just our luck that in our small dance school, she ends up in Curly's age group. Our school hosted a small competition in early November with just kids from our school. Dancers danced one at a time. Parents hung outside on the sidewalk. Anyway, Curly took 2nd that day (no big deal, only 8 girls) but Ms. Piece-of-Work dancer was upset with her placement so she stomped away. Congratulated no one. Typical. 

Ms. Piece-of-Work placed 6th even though she didn't dance as well as Curly. I told Curly to hold her head up - she danced great and when all the other dancers looked at the results they would see that her slip jig score was just ridiculous. 

Another competition in the books. Thanks for following along with my long-ass story. Irish dancing costs a pretty penny, I wonder if it will also cost me readers as this saga might have been TOO MUCH. 


Pat Birnie said...

I have enjoyed your saga, with my absolute favourite part being your Irish accent mimicking the horror of your attempts to make up your daughter's face. Loved it! Boy the odd judging must be frustrating - how can she rate a 3 & a 44 on the same dance? I am amazed that the competition was even able to take place -- up here in Canada/Toronto there is almost nothing going on in the way of sports, dance etc.

Kara said...

This Dance Saga has been eye opening! My kids have never done individual sports (except the youngest in gymnastics for a long 9 months), always team sports. I've been through many weekend long soccer tournaments, but never a weekend long dance tournament. The dynamics are different and very interesting.

That judge who tanked your daughter? I hope there's a way you can issue a formal complaint against her. She clearly screwed up.

Ernie said...

Pat - *Insert image of me taking a bow for the high praise of my silly Irish imitation*. It was just so dang funny. Wished I could hang on to that ha-ha moment the rest of the weekend, but that 44th place really left me ticked off. It just isn't right.

It was nuts that the competition happened, because there is NOTHING going on in the midwest. Her dress was too small but I refused to buy her a new one. How long till she would wear it, if this comp ended up being cancelled? She could've outgrown it. We ended up paying $80 for her current dress to be let out. I think they did a good job with precautions. I feel this way EVERY year - glad it's over.

Ernie said...

Kara- My kids have danced, but otherwise it was all team sports. Well, they do Irish music too, but I haven't found that to be as intense.

There is no recourse in Irish dancing. None. I already asked Mary what could be done. I am worried that she thought I wanted the scores from that day to be changed, which I KNOW cannot happen. What I really want is for this judge to be told she needs further training, or steer clear of big competitions, OR SOMETHING. It just doesn't work that way. Unfortunately. When I am done with my memoir - my next book is an Irish dancing tell-all. Funny stories (like when I used old leg tanner and turned my girl's legs green the night before a competition) and the frustrating ones too.

Beth Cotell said...

Poor Curly! But I will say, she sounds like a great kid - she didn't get upset about her score and congratulated those ahead of her. You are doing something right, Ernie, even it's not stage makeup!:)

Ernie said...

Beth - Thanks, she IS a great kid. Partly why her dancing teacher is SO crazy about her. I often attend competitions and have moms who I've never met approach me to say that their daughter was freaking out nervous and that Curly was so reassuring backstage, saying: "OK, let's just talk. That always helps me. You're going to dance great." She's a good egg. Never fails to make me proud. It's funny, but she roots so much for the 'nice' girls. She knows who is naughty and who is nice - beyond her own age group even. And it matters. So she gets excited to see the sweet girls do well.

One girl who is a true stinker (daughter of a dancing teacher whose school we once attended- apple doesn't fall far from the tree, these people are the worst), anyway - stinker girl won and the other girls were all congratulating each other and keeping their distance from her. Obvious reasons. Curly later told me that she told her good job and gave her a hug because she was just standing alone. :)

I cackled at your stage makeup reference - so true.

Suz said...

What the hell? 44th? That is just wrong. I trust your judgment and if you said it was better than that, then it was.
Don't you hate those 'stomping' away people? There is one or two in every sport/activity. I've seen my fair share.

I'm glad the puking was limited and everyone else stayed healthy; must have been her nerves.
I love the hot tub picture; that face, so delicious!!

Ernie said...

Suz - It was SO much better than that. For her teacher to verbalize that it wasn't right, says a lot. Teachers usually side with 'must've seen something'. Other moms told me throughout the day how Curly is hard to beat in slip jig. It's her 'thing.' Super frustrating.

This stomping away person is an only child with a cray-cray mother. I want to shake the mom and say DEAL WITH THIS NOW, ONLY GONNA GET WORSE.

I texted the hot tub pic to the friend who was with me at the side of the hot tub that day (who is at a different school now and I miss her) after the competition saying 'remember when?' Curly was the youngest kid on her team. Those teachers were NIGHTMARES, but logistically they were close to home.

So many Irish dancing stories from over the years. Thanks for following along with this lengthy one.

Bibliomama said...

Yeah, any sport where there is subjectivity is going to spike your blood pressure at some point. I'd be pissed off too. We have the same issue on occasion with umpires or refs, and it's wild how angry you get when it's your kid being treated unfairly.
Love the hot tub pic - I mean, no one submerges their head in a hot tub anyway, so why not?

Charlie said...

I’ve enjoyed this tale Ernie. Honestly, it never fails to amaze me how much content you have!! Life always seems to hand you bizarre moments and I am here for it!!

Ernie said...

Ali - So true. When we called Coach on our drive home he was not getting it. He was doing '9th is good Curly' thing - not disputing that, but he was missing the point. I finally compared it to a buzzer shot that should've counted or some other bad call in a championship game. It is rare for a judge to be THAT far off, so I assured Curly that next year she'd avoid that crap. She just doesn't ALWAYS have such a command of her steps and this year she did. Ugh.

The hot tub pic is funny. Oh I have stories from those years when kids were little and I took the 5 youngest dancers by myself. 5 different stages. Dance teachers screaming at me as I scrambled around a frantic mess. In the middle of it all: hot tub time. I hovered nearby to make sure no one splashed her.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Ha. Honestly you have no idea. If I had time and the emotional strength to write about what has been going on behind the scenes over here - you would be stunned. I might share the story at some point but it is still too fresh and unresolved.

Coach's old office manager used to say that we should have a camera follow us because there was always so much happening. I always told her that the bleeping of my language would kill any reality show potential. Sometimes I am like, SERIOUSLY?

Thanks so much for being here for it. Much appreciated. If I couldn't vent here I might explode.