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I call this page "At the Feis" because this doesn't just apply to your very first feis. Yes, it is meant as a gentle guide for those tenderfeet who are just beginning to enter the competition circle but there are a lot of things included on this page that you'll do at every feis you ever compete in (like the stuff at the very bottom). It gets more complicated as you get into the higher levels, but this was all I ever had to know because sadly, as you all know, I wasn't with the Feis circuit very long. I am glad to share my experiences, however! So I hope this helps.

The Night Before

    In your dance bag you will want to make sure you have:
  • An extra pair of poodle socks
  • Your softshoes and hardshoes
  • Some black electrical tape (for your hardshoes)
  • Some healthy snacks (like Powerbars for energy, or maybe some fruit in little baggies)
  • A water bottle
  • An Ace bandage - you never know what will happen!
  • Poodle sock glue (works wonders!)
  • A tape of Irish dance music to listen to in the car to make sure you've got the music just right in your head
  • A pen to write down all your stages and competition numbers
  • A safety pin to pin your number on (or some thread that matches the color of your dress)
  • Some money for the vendors

    What you want to make sure you do:
  • Have your dress/kilt hanging somewhere where you'll find it first thing when you wake up
  • Put your dance bag by the front door so you don't forget it
  • Practice each of your dances 3-4 times to music. It's the display of your steps that matters now (are your feet crossed? Are your toes pointed?) and your timing.
  • Girls take a shower early so your mom can curl your hair before it gets too late and make sure your hair is completely dry before you start curling! If you do it when the hair is still wet, the results will be disasterous! Also use Spike curlers. The regular kind get stuck in your hair and it makes the curls a mess.
  • Go to sleep a little earlier than usual in case you're really worked up (as most dancers get!)

Feis Day!

Take things slow. Get up early enough so that you don't have to rush. Eat something for breakfast and try to keep yourself as calm as possible. Don't worry about what will happen that day!

    Once you've eaten, some things you want to do are:
  • Fill up your water bottle with ice and water, then stick it by the door so you don't forget it (because if you don't you WILL forget it! I always do.)
  • Go put on your dancing costume
  • If you want to save time, put your poodle socks and softshoes on before you leave for the feis and then wear sandals over them when you go out. (Boys can do this too if they want with their shoes.)
  • Leave your house early, giving yourself enough time to reach the feis at least 30 minutes before the solo dances begin

    At the feis:
  • Go to the registration desk and get your number
  • Get your competition #'s and stages off of your number card and write them down
  • Pin or string the number to your costume
  • Go check out the locations of your stages so you have a mental picture of where you need to travel between dances
  • Go to your first stage and listen to the music (if solos have begun already.) It's imperative that you get used to the music they're playing for your competition because it will probably differ from the music you danced to at class
  • Practice your dance to the music that's being played once or twice

    When it's your turn to compete:
  • Check in at your stage when your competition number is up on the board. Make sure you get there early and check in early so they don't mark you as not there!
  • Try to look as secure as possible walking onto the stage; don't look like you're about to pee your pants even if you feel like you are! ;)
  • Walk onto the stage with your feet crossed, one in front of the other. This makes you look more confident and makes the judge think you know what you're doing
  • Stand in line with your feet crossed, your back straight, and your shoulders back. Look like the champion you are!
  • DON'T TALK IN LINE!!!
  • When it's your turn to compete, step forward and to your left with your feet crossed one in front of the other. Try to smile. Remember to point your toe on the 5-7th beat and get up onto your tippy toes on the 8th beat. Then dance your heart out!
  • Eye contact with the judge is important. This shows confidence on your part
  • RELAX! Smile and have a good time! Put some serious spirit into your dancing! You're doing something you love so show it!
  • When you're done, make sure you're facing the judge. Give a nice, deep bow with a great big SMILE and walk back into line with your feet crossed, one in front of the other.
  • Walk off the stage with your feet crossed also and rigid arms. Never let yourself look sloppy until you're off the stage.

    Things to always remember:
  • Be prepared to lose. We all like to win, but sometimes you just don't. Don't go in thinking to yourself that you will just die if you don't place. Just being there at the feis is an accomplishment!
  • Dance for the fun of it. Always tell yourself "Even if I don't place, I'll still have fun." You don't have to get first place to be the best dancer. If you have your heart in it, you're a champion in my book!
  • Try to relax and have a good time while you're competing. No one is watching you to laugh at you. All the other dancers watching you are mentally cheering you on! They know what it feels like to be in your shoes.
  • And if you're a beginner, don't be intimidated by the older, more advanced dancers. You'll be as good or better than them someday! If you feel like you really want to do those pretty steps, try not to. Just be good at your own steps. I have that problem all the time. It's not fancy steps that make the good dancer, it's the dancer that does the simple steps good. I've seen dancers doing really advanced steps who execute them pitifully. Be good along the way and don't wish yourself into another level to be like them!

If you're a beginner looking to my feis tips for help, I hope they gave you a little insight! I wish you all of the best at your next feis and don't forget to HAVE FUN!!!!!! :)