Session Three (5 January - 2 March, 2002) January 5, 2002

It was the first lesson of the month, and naturally, it was a figure dance day.
We found out that we are in one of two performances on St. Patrick's day, and we also got the steps and dances we will be performing. I am to be in the Opening Reel (with the lovely music heard on this site), second to last (before the boys) with Rebekah. We're doing right and left foot of Point-Point (the last step of our reel), then the first step of the "advanced" reel that we learned at camp (only Rebekah and I know it). We're not very good at that dance at all, because we only spent about one hour on it a looooong time ago, and we have trouble turning.
Hopefully, we'll be able to work on it a lot now that we have to know it.
After getting our choreography assigned, we worked on the whole routine, and needless to say, we SUCKED!
So, Deirdre made us do for about a half-hour, before we worked on some figure dances (no, figure dance class hadn't started yet) that we were going to do in the show. I'm in three dances.
After regular class ended, we started our figure dance class. One-by-one, people were called to be fitted for dresses (they have them made now).
We worked on the 6-hand, which was very boring, because we all knew it by heart.
So, we started our show 3-hand, and some other people did their show 2hand, and we did the routine.
Then we worked on Glenaid Rince, our 8-hand choreography dance, which I am also going to be dancing.
We spent a very long time on it, and learned the rest of the steps to it, until the end of class.
Afterwards, Amy N., Amy, Rebekah, and a few others, tried on dresses, and we were assigned a size, which would be sewn next week.
By the time we left, it was three o'clock. I had danced for three hours.

January 12, 2002

I arrived fairly early, though some others had arrived already, too.
I got on my ghillies, and waited by the viewing window, until Amy arrived. We chatted for awhile, then it was time to go into the studio.
But both Amys' and I were pulled back out to try on dresses. We finally got our sizes, and they are to be hemmed before we take them home.
We got into the room just in time to miss curl-downs and ballet sit-ups (YESSSSSS). We started with the show choreography, and afterwards, Cait told Rebekah and I that we were going to get help on the Down-Out-In Reel step.
We did a very nice job on the second time around in the routine. The first time, well, we won't go there.
But anyway, Nessa, who is about our age and is helping Cait out, reviewed the dance with Rebekah and I, and we finally fixed the errors we were making, and after about five minutes, we joined up with the big group who was reviewing the Single Jig, and the third step to it, Roberts Step.
After Roberts Step, we learned the Laurel Step, which I already knew, and then we worked on hardshoe for the last ten or fifteen minutes of class.
We reviewed the Treble Jig, and learned the last step of it, then we learned a HORNPIPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love the beat of the Hornpipe a lot.
We got some performances schedules. We have a recital, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and a performance after the parade. Two, actually, but my class is only in one.

January 19, 2002

I arrived really early because there had been a snow storm overnight, and we weren't sure how the roads were.
But it turned out that arriving early was a good thing, because when I entered the dressing room, Rebekah was trying on a dress. She called me over and gave me my final dress, and had me try it on and then get the length adjusted. It is to be hemmed and then I will be able to take it home and sew on the embroidery.
We then discovered that the hardshoes had arrived for those that didn't have them, so we started with hardshoe and finished the last part of the Hornpipe step, and then reviewed the Treble Jig step. We spent about fourty-five minutes on hardshoe, a new record.
We then went over our Opening Reel piece for the show. It went really smoothly, and I was having a lot of fun, for once, doing it. It was then that Cait announced that some of us (whomever were interesting) could go to the Pacific Northwest Irish Dance Championships! She handed us the paper, and we were to respond with our answer, then get the entry forms in.
After doing our Opening Reel once more, we were done.

January 26, 2002

I got to class a little early, with about ten minutes left of the class before us. I got my shoes on, and waited for a while in the hall.
Since we just "rent" out the studio each week, there are other classes going on. One of those classes is the Creative Movements class, a precursor to ballet, that consists of probably three through seven year olds.
Today, a grandma was walking her girl through the hall and past the window, and was commenting to the child that she "probably wasn't going to see the Irish Step Dancers" today. I thought that was cute.
Anywho, we walked in, and immediately Cait was bombarded with questions concerning classes, the dresses, and the feis.
Cait told Rebekah, Jessi and me that our dresses were ready to take home, and she gave us instructions on sewing on the collar, but no instructions on how to sew on the belt.
So, we had a weird interrupted warm-up, and soon we moved onto room crossings, and I finally nailed those Double Cuts. We also, according to Cait, have much better turn-out and now we are working on arches, so we are doing new versions of old room crossings to help with arches.
For our threes across the room, we used music from Lord of the Dance (a first, and veerrry cool), and so Rebekah and I did Michael Flatley impressions for the rest of the class.
We then switched shoes, and started hardshoe.
We worked on the Treble Jig first (I am finally getting the beat more), and I kept messing up on the jump steps (mini versions of the threes) and I also messed up on the rocks on the left foot.
Next, we worked on the Hornpipe, and also did right and left feet to slow music.
After the Hornpipe, we switched shoes again, and did the last step of the Single Jig a few times, before working on our Opening Reel (which I am finally able to like).
We did that a few times (but not to any LOTD music - sad), and then we worked on the eight hand choreography, which I think is called Glenaid Rince.
We worked on that for an hour-and-a-half, and Claire was there to help, though she didn't know the dance - at all - until Cait reviewed it a thousand times.
It got more and more complicated as the dance went on, but we have the beginning down pat, which is great. Now if only we understood the weaving and end parts (same thing, but it's sorta complicated).
Then our eight hand group had to dance for the second, and they had to dance for us.
My feet and legs were very tired after that class, which was the same length as the figure dance classes, but it seemed waaaaay longer to me.
After class, we took my dress home. Below are samples of the belt embroidery (some of it), the collar embroidery (some of it), and the fabric ("crushed" Irish wool, very nice, with a white satin lining).

February 2, 2002

I arrived really early, and just sorta stood around the dressing room waiting for the Amys' to be ready before we went and watched the class before us. Rebekah has been helping to teach the class before us (little kids) because her little sister is in it, so we watched her teach for a while.
When we were finally let in, that's when I realized that Deirdre was there. It was another long class. This time it was a regular figure dance class afterwards.
When we got in, we stretched, then Cait handed out our feis registration papers that had all the dances written down on them, and also a schedule of feis practices (mainly figure dances) before the feis.
Well, we started with hardshoe again after a really quick stretching session and no room-crossings or threes.
We reviewed the Hornpipe, then the Treble Jig, then Cait and Deirdre edited some steps of the Treble Jig to accomodate the new speed. We then started a new Treble Jig which I always lose my balance at the beginning in. It has brush whips, and I always fall over doing them because we start weird, and it's quite special.
Well, after a very long time (during which Deirdre was praising the sound we were making with our steps and the syncronization going on), we started softshoe. We did our Opening Reel, and we really know what to do now, so it's second nature. We line up at the right time, we go out at the right time (with the exception of the four girls who dance first), and we can now nail the ending really well, but our leap overs are just that - LEEEEAAAAP overs to reach the guys who are way far in front of us.
After that, we lined up as usual, and Deirdre had us "feis-goers" (that's what she called us) go to the end, and those not going to be at the front. She clapped when we had to go to immitate the feis helpers, and we all went two at a time, and did two steps.
Rebekah and I went together and Deirdre kept reminding us to smile. It's hard to do in the middle of class.
She really loved our Slip Jig, and thought we did an excellent job on it (with the exception of her calling out the wrong step, and confusing me, but I got right back into it), which I think is a good thing.
After running through the softshoe dances, Deirdre talked to me about the 2-Hand, and when Devon arrived, and figure dance class started, she sent us away to learn the 2-Hand that Devon already knew. All I got out of that lesson was that I do a lot of spinning, but it's a cool 2-Hand even though I barely learned anything.
After that we did all the figures for the show, and then did the Opening Reel again (this time divided by show - which is basically Friday night class and Saturday morning class), and then it was time for the 8-Hand choreography piece.
We ran through the whole thing a few times, then worked on specific areas that needed work.

February 9, 2002

Arrived same time as usual, got on my ghillies, and then waited by the viewing window with Brenna, Erin, and Jessi.
For those of us in the upcoming feis (Pacific Northwest Irish Dance Championships), we had an extra lesson after class to go over the figure dancing and learn the 4hand again, as the first time we attempted it, things didn't go too well.
Anyway, we started with stretches, got on our hardshoes, and then Logan came.
We reviewed the new step of the Treble Jig we learned last week, and then we got into "Riverdance lines", and did the new step, and then the first step into the new step (brush jump step on right and left foot), switched spots, attempted the new step on the left foot, didn't get it, and then went over the whole thing (minus left foot of the new step) a couple more times to music, then switched back into our softshoes.
We started with the Opening Reel we'll be doing in the show. We're getting better and better now. We get to our spots, "enter" at the right time, and then in our big point-point finish, we now are able to catch up to the boys and grasp hands at the right time, and we now stay put in the sevens instead of travelling, which we always did at first.
The boys left to go learn the left foot of the step they learned at camp, and we ladies worked on the Slip Jig steps that we know. We went over them a few times, then danced to music, and then the boys came back.
By then my shins were in real agony. I don't think I stretched well enough before we started, as I was busy getting my steps for the feis dances I'll be doing.
We then did the Single Jig, which went alright, then the Light Jig.
I must say that I am very happy I do not have to dance the lead round in the Reel at the feis, as the eight hop23s really bore me, and it get's tiring fast. Instead, I do the last two steps, which are the more "advanced" steps (i.e., we learned them last, and they involve less sevens).
After the Light Jig, we reviewed the 8-Hand choreography, which went extremely well, except when Rebekah and I messed up big time at one of the steps where we all do the last step of the Single Jig. We didn't know if we were to whip or to leap over, but Cait told us to leap over, and we still got confused.
After that, it was time for the feis practice class. There was only about nine or ten of the Spokane class kids going. I am assuming that more are going in the higher levels, and those who attend the main school in Kettle.
We began with the 2-Hand, the one I was rushed through last week, but Devon was gone, and they changed the end, so I had to dance with Alex, and I must say he is a much better partner, as he directs me better as to what I am doing. I am very happy about that, but I am still with Devon for the feis. I wonder if he knows the new ending. It's the simple ending from the regular 2-Hand that I learned first, so I like it a lot.
But all the turning, turning, turning! I get very confused. The first thing we do in this dance is turn! It looks really awesome, but it's so darned confusing! Hopefully I can go over this a few more times, as the feis is in less than a month now, and the figures might be on the first night there...that Friday. Which, after a 6 hour drive accross the state (which we have made many times in the past), will be rather tiring/exciting/stressful, depending on how well the feis is laid out. The only other feiseanna I have been to (not danced in) were really small and only two stages. Very simple. But I have nine dances to do, and three days to do them.
Anyway, after the 2-Hand came the 3-Hand, which for some reason we didn't practice (just the littler kids - all of three). I suppose we didn't because we know it really well, or Cait forgot, but oh well.
We then reviewed the 6-Hand. I am closest to the judge, a spot I haven't been in. I am usually on the boys right, not left, so this was interesting. I had some trouble in the arches, but the second run-through, I got it down perfectly (with some minor messing up in the hops).
After the 6-Hand, we relearned the 4-Hand, which I must say is a lot funner and easier than I remember it being when we learned it up in Kettle last summer. Which reminds me, my mom said that Deirdre or Cait (don't remember which) told her that the camp is happening again, only over two different weekends. Sarah moved, so she may come up for that when I get dates to give her.
Anyway, the 4-Hand was really easy, and it looks really cool. I am the lead lady, so I do this figure eight around the bottom couple. It's really fun.
We also get to do the spinning thing that I saw a lot of in Riverdance. Where you and your partner cross your hands and hold on, then spin around back to where you started from.
Devon is in my group, and he wasn't there, so Cait was my partner, and that helped me out. Plus, on the sheet we got with our feis steps was another sheet with the steps listed under each figure dance, which is really nice to have in case I forget what comes or chain. I think the chain does.
Nope, the star does. Anyway...oops.
Well, after learned the 4-Hand again, we got to leave a little early.
It was really cool to only have about nine or ten people in the room. For some reason that made it easier to concentrate on the steps.
Backing up into the past, when we were doing our 8-Hand, there were a lot of people in the viewing area watching the Creative Movement kids, and us, and when we did our complicated figure dance with lots of complicatedness, all eyes were on us. Also when we did our hardshoe, which was really cool.

February 16, 2002

For once, this class wasn't two hours long! It was just a regular one-hour-long session.
I waited around for a long time before actually going into the studio. When I finally did, I stretched, and was immediately pulled away to do the 2-hand with Devon, who was finally at class.
Let me just say this right now: I CAN NOT DO THE 2-HAND! If we place in it, which I am sure we won't, it will be low. I just can't get it, and Devon has some trouble as well. Hey, it's really the only dance I'm having trouble with, thankfully, that I am doing in competition.
After struggling through the 2-hand, we started everything 'feis style'. Amy and I were always the first two.
We lined up and did everything like at a feis, which was fun, because I loved doing a totally different step than Amy. For some reason that just sent a pulse of energy through me, and I soared through the air.
We did the reel steps first, then the light jig. I really love the light jig, especially Kerry's Step, which is the "rise-and-grind" part of the dance. The one step in each light jig. I love it a lot.
We then did the single jig. I despise the single jig. I can dance it, but it's too darn choppy, and boring. And the second step has so many hops, I a sick of hopping afterwards. They don't call it the 'hop' jig for nothing!
Cait thought Amy and I did wonderful leapovers in the single jig, and I agree - I stayed up in the air with one leg tucked in and the other extended, a lot longer than I usually am able to. I guess I was able to build up enough energy.
After the single jig, we did the slip jig, which was the best.
I travel extensively during the first part. I just "charge" forward. Amy was supposed to dance it, but her shins and ankles hurt really badly, so she sat out, and I did it with a new student who looks to be about seventeen. She is in the little kids class, but occasionally watches our class. She just started a few weeks ago.
She eventually forgot the steps, and I had to do the rest myself, which was kind of nerve-wrecking at first, because all eyes were totally on me, but I got used to it, and eventually I "bowed" and went back to my spot.
After that last 'feis' style run-through, we did the Opening Reel, which just gets better and better! We meet up with the guys (though not extremely gracefully, as we must really move to meet them), and Rebekah and I are getting better at the Down-Out-In Reel. We can turn a little faster, and the quivers are getting more "quivery", and not just a really awkward shake of the ankle.
After that, we changed into hardshoes, and reviewed the treble jig. I had been practicing it all week. Both steps on right and left foot, so I was prepared.
I also got my headband fabric and the make-shift brock materials. A "gold" piece of triangle fabric. Just like the official one, except ours aren't complete, and it would be on different fabric.

February 23, 2002

Weird practice. First of all, Cait was not there, but Deirdre and Logan were. Logan! Yes, the oh-so-quiet-and-shy-Worlds-dancer. Well, I'm not sure if I did say he was shy, but he is!!!! I can never really hear him he's so quiet, and yes he did qualify for Worlds! Last year, but they were cancelled and things got screwed up, and he didn't go. Poor Logan. And, by the way, he is not Cait and Claire's brother, everyone just thinks he is.
Well, we did a long, long session of stretches, finally, and we moved into softshoe first, and we didn't get to hardshoe at all today. We needed to practice for the Feis and for the recital and St. Pat's show.
We started with the 8Hand choreography, and it's going excellently! Deirdre had us edit it a smidgen in one spot so that we don't get squished together like we have been. Instead of staying in one line, the two end couples (Rebekah and me being one of them) pull forward on the turn. It's better that way, I must agree.
We then did the Opening Reel, which is nearly perfect, other than the fact that Rebekah and I are still messing up on the turn in our second Reel step. Actually, I thought I was doing it right, but then again, Rebekah had it right at one point, too. Heck, I'm probably doing it the same as her, I just don't think I am. Oh well. It is the "advanced" Reel step that most of the Novice dancers dance (not eloquent, but okay).
Next we moved onto the "Feis Figures". The 6Hand was first, and for some reason, I was blanking out on my steps a lot! It got extremely annoying after a time. I guess I was more stressed or something. Deirdre seemed to think so. She said I was doing the arches wrong, when I was doing them as I always have been, except now I'm on a different side. I was going to far around, and rushing myself too much to get around twice. So, upon the fifth run-through, I was able to do it better (not perfect, as it will never be perfect, but I digress), though I never knew what I was doing wrong other than going too far out, so it was hard to fix the mysterious problem I was having.
Nextly (nifty coining of words here) we did the dreaded and hated and feared 2Hand! I did the turns perfectly, but I am still really confused on the sevens, like really confused. I get the first two parts, but then when we do them again, I don't understand what we're doing. Deirdre and Cait never really taught them to me fully, so I need to corner one of them and ask what I'm supposed to be doing, as Deirdre didn't pick up on my "HELP HELP!" mess-up.
But I digress once again.
I ran through the 3Hand, which is just old news type stuff now. I know it by heart, and now all I need to do is make it look better; more polished and sharp. This is of my own decision. No one watched us dance the 3Hand, so I just decided this myself. Heh, it's probably true.
After that, we ran through all of the softshoe dances feis-style. Oh, the horror! I messed up a lot, but Deirdre liked my Leap-Overs, and she really loved my Slip Jig, even though I totally screwed up my sevens because she was calling out Johnathan's steps, which were different than my own, and he turned before me, which is wrong, and I got all confused. Yeah, that's me, easily confused.
We ran though the dances twice, except for the Reel.
Speaking of Johnathan, he has made me develop a new dislike of people who dance in front of you, as we happened to travel a bit too much (Cait told him to stop moving around so much - wow), and ending up in front of me, which made me really peeved, even though it was only for like 5 seconds. He totally surprised me, as I thought he was about to smash into me, but, I got used to it after he did it four times in the same spot.
After a time, we cooled down, and Deirdre handed out a paper (two, really) of all the upcoming events and competitions - of which there are many.
She talked then, and she talked for a long time about everything. Now we finally have definites on the Recital, which was a mystery until now. It's beginners only, and only the Spokane branch.
Deirdre and Cait are also looking for their own studio in Spokane, because right now they are just renting out the Academy of Dance studio, and can't do many classes. If they were to go through with the new studio (which they are serious about doing), classes would be twice a week and an hour-and-a-half long; one figure and one solo class.
There are still no details on the parade, and we only have one more week to get the info, because we'll be in competition one weekend, and performances the next.
There are three feiseanna coming up which Cait has suggested, they are:

  • Victora BC, May 4-5th
  • Portland Oregon, June 8-9th
  • Vancouver BC, June 15-16th Cait is only attending the Vancouver one, and I think that's the one she competed in last year.

    March 2, 2002

    Ah yes, it was a wonderful three-hour-long lesson today! Deirdre and Cait were there, as the case is whenever we have a figure dance class, but the air was a buzz of excitement, stress, worry, delight, and pride. It was quite a lesson, to say the least.
    First off, we had a rehearsal for the recital. We went through all of the dances in order, lining up, and all that good stuff. Deirdre put up lists of all of the dances in order. It's quite nerve-wrecking, as this is the last class for us feis-goers, until the recital! Those not attending the feis are having a substitute teacher next week, as Cait will be in Montana with some Irish dance troupe, and Deirdre is coming with us. I don't know about Logan or Claire. Perhaps they are coming to the feis.
    Anyway, we ran through the recital opening number, then the 8-Hand, which is oooodles of fun and looks very, very complicated, to say the least, but it's easy.
    After that, we went over all of the recital figures. I'm in a 3-Hand with Krystal and Amy N. So far it's quite nice, because I know it veeery well. Only one problem, I keep forgetting to whip instead of jump in the circle. I'll get it.
    Afterwards, we did more figures because, well, it was then time for the figure dance class. We started with a recital review, going over who's at Waterford Assisted Living (which is me, and that is good because I'm really close to the Waterford) at 3:15 on March 16th, and who's at Sullivan Park Retirement at 2:00 on the 16th. It's basically divided by classes, with a few exceptions.
    After that, we worked on the recital by show (we went first), and then all not in the feis and who had already done their recital rehearsal, could leave. A lot of people left, but the Sullivan Park dancers were still practicing their recital.
    I went out into the waiting area with Rebekah, Alex and Devon.
    Alex had given me a nifty little felt banner to hang any medals on. His mother made them, and since we're all friends and "feis-goers" she made on for each of us. Very nifty.
    I had a snack, and then the four of us decided that we should really work on the 4-Hand, as we've done it only once. How did that go? Let me just say this, "if it's still a little uneasy on Friday, you guys can drop the 4-Hand." Yeah, that is what Deirdre said. Then we ran through it again, and again, and Deirdre then said that we'd probably not drop the 4-Hand, because all we needed was a practice, which we'll get on Friday. We have only practiced the 4-Hand once (not counting the camp or today), so it was no big suprise we had forgotten the order of the steps, and how to transition into them. When Cait was with us, we were reeely good, but now, we bite. There isn't anything else to say about that.
    We worked on the 6-Hand, and finally, I am able to do the arches right (well, I think I'm going them as I always have, but go figure - no pun intended), and I am not so lost. All because I moved over a spot. How sad.
    After the 6-Hand, we did the dreaded, hated, and feared, but very cool 2-Hand, and I can finally do it! Though Devon messed up a bit, and we have a tendency to collide at certain spots, and we turned too late on the lead 'round, it's still a lot better, and I know what I am doing! Yes!
    After that, Deirdre handed out the syllabus for the feis, and I am dancing all three days. Figures are on Friday, solos are on Saturday (at 8:00 AM! Ah!) And the trophy dance is on Sunday.
    Deirdre told us to wear poodle socks, and a lot of people were confused/worried, but I have mine, so it's all good! My hair is going to be curlerized on Thursday. But that creates a problem, as Deirdre said girls should wear hair natural or slightly curled for Friday, so that figure hair styles will be the same. Problemo! We're going to curl my hair with the Spikes anyway. We told Deirdre, it's not our fault we planned it one month in advance and now Deirdre says how to wear our hair.
    In hardshoe news, we learned a new Hornpipe step which is confusing. Easy, but confusing, because at one point we treble up, then step down, and I keep wanting to "treble hop back" not "treble hop step". With practice I'll be able to do that step.