Originally written 11/19/2010.
Question: how do you spot an Irish dance teacher at the regional championships?
Answer: they’re the person in stiletto heels/tight skirt/business suit sprinting down the hallway.
Convention centers are nice for competitions because they’re so roomy, unlike some hotel ballrooms. However, that also sometimes means that the ballrooms are really far apart. In this case, two of the ballrooms are on the first floor of the Sacramento Convention Center at the south end. The other two are on the second floor, on the north end, about the equivalent of a block away. To get from one set of rooms to the other, you have to go out the doors, around a corner, down a hall, around another corner, down another hall, and up two escalators.
This wouldn’t be a problem except that my 8 dancers were spread out among 3 of the 4 ballrooms, and it kept happening that two of the dancers would be performing more or less at the same time. So my dance parents would keep me posted via text (one of the greatest inventions ever for a feis), and as soon as one dancer would finish I would pick up my purse and go running down the hall, waving as I passed other teachers doing the same thing.
Maybe we could market an Irish stepdance teacher’s workout video. First, put on your stiletto heels…
Once you get to the ballroom in question, you push through the crowd of people in the doorway and find yourself looking down the room at the raised platform stage at the far end. Most of the rest of the room is filled with chairs for spectators. The very front row of chairs is reserved for teachers, which is great except that the 5 judges are sitting on a platform between the front row of chairs and the stage. Therefore, only the outside edges of the front rows have anyone in them; you can’t really see the stage from the middle.
In fact, the only really good view of the stage you can get is by standing against the side walls. Usually, about 25 percent of the audience is standing against or one of the other of the side walls. Since two of the three aisles through the chairs are on the sides, getting anywhere in the room is a slow, winding affair, involving lots of “excuse me”s and careful stepping.
All the running around and maneuvering was completely worth it, though. My dancers all performed beautifully, even better than in practice. 6 of the 8 got recalled, which meant that they got to come back and do a third dance. Everyone who recalls gets a trophy, so it was very exciting that so many made it.
The announcement of the recalls takes a while, and the third round takes a long time, too, because the dancers go one at a time (and there can be up to 75 people in the round). It was 4:30 by the time the last of my dancers was done. We knew it would be a while before awards, so we went and had dinner first. It felt really good to sit down and rest.
Awards are…well, you know those teen parties in movies where the kid’s parents are out of town and he invites everybody he knows over? There are way more people than the house can hold and there’s loud music playing and everyone is dancing? Well, imagine that everyone is wearing a giant curly wig, and that’s what awards are like.
Once again, though, it was totally worth it. All 6 of my recalled dancers placed in the top half of their recall group, and all 6 of them qualified for the National championships. Three of them placed in the top 10 and qualified for Worlds. One dancer even won his competition, and I got to go onstage and get a trophy, too! It was a wonderful evening.
I went back to the hotel after the awards finished at almost 11 pm. I’d gotten to the convention center at 7:30 that morning, and so had most of the dancers. A long day, but a good one. I slept very well.