First Feis Information
Competing can be a great way for a dancer to build self-confidence. A feis can be a very fun experience but it can be overwhelming the first few times. Here are a few things that may help:
When and where to feis: The teachers will let you know when your dancer is ready to compete. Be sure to let them know that you are interested. There are hundreds of competitions around the country and the world. Our region has many of them, so it is easy to stay close by. They are listed on many websites. There is a complete list on the North American Feis Commission's website. The Peter Smith school has a fairly complete list of the local ones on their website. Feis-o-matic, an app for the phone, also has a list.
Register for a competition: most competitions now use either Feisweb.com or Efeis.com to register. Some older ones use mail-in entries and payments. Registration begins up to three months before a feis and often ends about a month before. Make sure to check the ones in which you are interested. There is a fee for each dance and most competitions will charge an entrance fee, either individual or, more commonly, a family fee. These fees pay for the venue, judges, musicians, awards and other related costs of running the feis. Remember that these competitions do not usually make a lot of money for the schools.
Before the feis: find out what the first steps of your dancer's dances are. Sometimes dancers will forget which step is the reel and which is the jig. It helps if you can ask, "is that the down and back hop 1,2,3." Once they get a dance started, they usually know what to do. For novice hardshoe dancers, it is important for them to know if they are slow or fast music.
The night before: pack your feis bag. Polish shoes, find the poodle socks, and set out the costume & headband. You may also want to bring the number card if one was sent by feisweb. Other "essentials" to bring include safety pins, sock glue, bobby pins, ribbon to tie the number around the waistband, and hairspray. Other extras include a sewing kit, hairbands, and feis earrings and makeup (if appropriate). Beginners and advanced beginners are not allowed to wear make-up (up to age 12). If your dancer wears a wig, you may decide to put it on at home or at the competition. It is up to you and your dancer. If they do not wear a wig, arrange their hair nicely.
The day of: try to arrive about 45 to 60 minutes before your dancer is slated to start. It will give you time to get your bearings and find out how the stages are running. Occasionally, they will run faster than expected. Most competitions allow you to bring a chair for your "camping" (staging) area. Those cloth chairs are great for that. Find some friends to hang out with. This is the really fun part for the dancers and helps to build comeraderie. Get the dancer ready. It is usually good to have them warm up a bit to get ready. Ask them to show you their steps a couple of times.
The stages: there is usually a list of the dances somewhere around each stage. Check for your dancer's competitions numbers. When the number for their dance is "next," your dancer should go and check in with the stage manager. They will help them line up. There are usually "starters" to help the beginners and advanced beginners know when to start their dances. Please remind your dancer that they will not be doing the same steps as dancers from other schools and to try not to copy them.
A few rules about the dancing: Please do not approach the judges or musicians. If you have a question or problem, you can ask the stage managers. Also, and this is very important, you are NOT allowed to take pictures or movies of the dancing on the stages. Your dancer may be disqualified. Not only that, but the other dancers on the stage could also be disqualified. You can take as many pictures as you want off of the stage.
Awards: somewhere in the venue, there will be a large listing of all of the dance numbers. As the scores are tallied, the placers will be listed on these. If your dancer places, you will need to go to the awards area for the grades dancers to pick up the award.
These competitions help to build character. Not every dancer will place and get an award. The dancers will become more gracious in success as well as in disappointment.
Enjoy the time with your dancer.