2010 Regional Championships, Wrap-Up

Originally written 11/23/2010.

When my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning, my first thought was, “WHY did I book a flight that leaves at 7:45 a.m.?”

Oh, right. Because I procrastinated so long before purchasing my tickets that it was the only flight left.

My shuttle driver was a model of the modern multi-tasker. He was programming his GPS, talking on his Bluetooth, and texting at the same time. That was worrisome as he drove downtown, especially since none of the lights downtown were actually working; they’d all been set to flash. I figured that was normal for downtown Sacramento at 5 a.m., since the driver didn’t say anything about it. Or maybe he was too busy texting.

Anyway, I didn’t really start worrying until we got onto the freeway and he was still texting (while changing lanes in that nonchalant California way, where the vehicle just sort of slides over into a space that doesn’t look nearly big enough). It turned out he was texting his dispatcher. Um…isn’t that what the radio is for?

On the flight home, I sat next to a three-year-old and her mom, but this three-year-old could not have been more different than little Taylor on my flight out. She was well-behaved, and when she did get fussy, her mom took care of it. It was great. I slept most of the way home.

I realize that there were several things I meant to write about but forgot, like the dresses. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of ugly dresses. I just couldn’t bring myself to walk up to someone and ask to take their picture when I was planning on using the picture to show how unattractive her dress was. So you’ll just have to make do with my descriptions. The trend I hate most is animal print. Zebra-striped sleeves, cheetah-print stripes down the front of the bodice, orange leopard-spotted stretchy lycra. Ugh. Why? Why, dressmakers? There aren’t any zebras in Ireland.

There were also a lot of fancy hairpieces. My favorite was a giant silk turquoise flower that a girl was wearing on the side of her head, with peacock feathers coming out of it. The flower was bigger than her bun wig.

The other thing I forgot to tell you about is one of the most important jobs a stage manager has to do: answer questions. Most of these are normal, straightforward questions: What number is this competition starting with? Did you find the buckle that flew off my shoe while I was dancing? Are you checking in dancers for the traditional set special?

But, beyond these mundane questions, the stage manager for a long solo championship always has to be prepared to answer one of the great philosophical questions of our time: When are they announcing my recall?

This question has no answer. It’s like a zen koan: What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? How long is a piece of string? The problem, you see, is that many steps have to be taken before the recall round (the medal round, basically) can begin. The stage manager, or another licensed teacher, has to take the score sheets from the five judges and take them to the tabulation room. The hardworking, underappreciated people in tabulation then have to take the score sheets from the five judges and enter all the numbers into the computer. This is harder than it sounds. For one thing, all the score sheets are handwritten, and sometimes judges’ handwriting is like doctors’ handwriting. Also, in our region, a girls’ competition can have as many as 150 dancers in it. 150 times 5 is 750, so there are 750 different scores to be deciphered and then typed in. If at any point the tabulators can’t read a number, they have to track down the judge and find out for sure what the number is before entering it. And of course the tabulators aren’t just doing this for one competition. There are four ballrooms at the regionals, and all of them have at least two competitions during the day.

So there’s just no telling how long it will take for the tabulation room to enter the numbers, generate the report that shows which dancers are in the top 50%, and then get the report back down to the ballroom. It usually takes at least an hour after the finish of the second round of competition, and, depending on all the various factors, it can take longer. As soon as the stage managers get the recall list, they read it, and then the recall round can start. But no one–NO ONE–has any control over when the recall list is going to get there. Anyone who has ever been to an Oireachtas before should know that.

However, that doesn’t stop dozens of anxious dancers from coming over the announcer’s podium and asking, “When will you be announcing the recall?”

Ah, Irish dance grasshopper, you ask a deep question indeed. The recall will be announced as soon as it is here. Led us meditate on this truth.

Anyway, that’s it for my updates from the Oireachtas. I hope you’ve enjoyed it–I always do. Happy Thanksgiving!