Saturday, December 29, 2012

A few of my Favorite {Irish Christmas} Things

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season & a very merry Christmas! This year, I decorated a mini-Christmas tree with my collection of Irish dance ornaments. Normally, they just hang in my room with all my medals, so it was lovely to see my little ornaments adorning a tiny, fiber-optic tree! I love all my little dancers, but I do have a special place in my heart for a few of them.

A few of my Favorite {Irish Christmas} Things

The little tree sat on top of my sister's wooden, baby grand piano, surrounded by this year's crop of holiday cards. My favorite part? The Irish Nutcracker guarding the mini tree and tiny Irish dancers, of course!

Some of the dancing girls & porcelain ornaments
My little Madame Alexander {for Hallmark} Irish dancer,
& Royal Tara Irish dancer {toward the top of the tree}
Another unique Irish dancer ornament,
not the greatest turnout, but she's still golden! 
Did you decorate with any Irish or Irish dance related items this holiday season? How was your holiday?

Keep Dancing,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas with the Celts

Recently, the advanced Irish dancers from my dance school were asked to perform with The Celts on their Christmas with the Celts tour. Christmas with the Celts isn't just your average group of premier Irish, Scottish, and American musicians playing Celtic music & Christmas carols. The band consists of singers, pipes, fiddle, a full percussion set, and even a string quartet and children's choir from each city ...and then some. The show has amazing production, lighting, and effects. From an audience standpoint, Christmas with the Celts is non-stop world-class Celtic entertainment with a Christmas twist.

Oh, and the band tours with champion Irish dancer & captivating performer: Alice Ann Robinson... Needless to say, we were all thrilled to have the opportunity to perform with The Celts! 

We just LOVE Alice Ann's black patent leather soft shoes! 
{She's wearing the silver sequined dress}

 Pretty points, velvet, & gold... perfect for a winter performance! 

 Best part of the show {aside from the phenomenal music & dancing} for me? 
Alice Ann and I were campers together at the very first summer of Camp Rince Ceol
Getting to perform on stage with my old camp friend really touched my heart. 

After the show: Camp Rince Ceol reunion 
We couldn't believe it had been 12 years since we were campers together!

The Celts are ending their Christmas with the Celts tour tonight in Arberdeen, Washington. I hope you got a chance to see The Celts if they were in your city! If not... their Christmas with the Celts CD {available here} makes a great gift, or music for any holiday party... I've been playing it in my car for weeks!

Thank you so much, The Celts, for the opportunity to be a part of your Orlando show of the Christmas with the Celts tour! The dancers & I had so much fun! We were so inspired by the musicians, and of course the  lovely & talented Alice Ann.

Have you seen The Celts or Christmas with the Celts? Does your school perform for the holidays?

Keep Dancing,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ursula Celano {Irish dance} Inspired Treats

If you read my blog, you probably already know I adore Irish designer, Ursula Celano. She makes the best, unique Irish-themed gifts, bags, cards, and home goods, all from her own graphic designs. Ursula designed the absolute sweetest Irish dancer gift tags for Christmas...and guess what: they're free! Visit the "freebies" section of her website {} to download and print them. There, you'll find the dancer tags, along with other non-dance Irish gift tags... including a romantic couple in Dublin and a festive Christmas donkey. {I'm obsessed!}

Using the Irish dancer tags, I whipped up some super simple little treats to give to my dancers at their last class before holiday break {tonight}.

 After printing the Ursula Celano Irish dancer tags, I cut them out and hole-punched the tops. I also printed 2 sheets of tags per page, making the tags half the size. Printing the smaller version was perfect for mass-producing candy cane gifts. If I was using the tags to wrap gifts, I would print them normal sized, as the dancers' details show up much nicer in the larger format.

I used curling ribbon to tie the tags to the candy canes, and then curled the ends for a finishing touch. Since the tags were red and green, I chose a simple white ribbon. I think they turned out perfect...and took all of 15 minutes to make!

SO cute, right?! I love the dancer's little dresses... and they're all different; just like {real life} solo dresses! Ursula Celano's attention to detail is ridiculously perfect...right down to the little buckles on their tiny hard shoes!  

What do you think of the finished product? I hope my dancers like them!

Keep dancing, 

Can't get enough Ursula Celano Ireland?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nine Ladies {Irish} Dancing

Nine Ladies {Irish} Dancing
During the holidays, the dance school where I teach decorates the studio with a nice big tree, decked out with lights and an assortment of dance ornaments. Ballet, jazz, tap, and [of course!] Irish dance are represented on our school's Christmas tree. At home, I have a collection of Irish dance ornaments I've accumulated over the years. They hold special memories of where I got them, or who gave them to me.  I even have a tiny trophy ornament to go with the tiny dancers!

One of my fabulous Irish dancers asked me earlier this week where she could find an Irish dance ornament of her very own. I thought to myself, and quickly realized I had received mine as gifts, or randomly found them at feiseanna or Irish gift shops around the country. For those of you who might be looking for new Irish dancer ornaments this holiday season, here are the prettiest ornaments [in my opinion]  from around the web:

Add some Irish dance to your Christmas tree!

Irish dancers for your Christmas tree! by OnMyToesBlog on Polyvore

I love the little jigging Santa Claus, and the lovely dancer with the bow in her hair! I wish I could find some Irish dance shoe ornaments, but haven't had any luck yet. These little dancers might not be completely authentic, have proper footwear, or display perfect technique, but they sure are adorable.

Do you have a favorite Irish dance ornament for your Christmas tree? Have you found any cute hard shoe or soft shoe ornaments?

Keep Dancing,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Everyone Loves a Parade!

With Oireachtas season [yes, I totally consider this a season] coming to a close, Irish dancers worldwide have been glued to YouTube watching all the latest winners' Parades of Champions... including me! Congrats to all the champions & all the Oireachtas dancers who've danced their best over these last few weeks! You all have so much to be proud of. [For more of my Oireachtas deep thoughts, click here.] And just in case you weren't one of those dancers in the Parade of Champs at your O this year and are feeling a bit down, remember...
"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down.
Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."
- G. K. Chesterton
I'll probably post my favorite Parade of Champions videos soon, but until then, lets focus on another type of parade...

The dance school where I teach participated in our town's annual Christmas parade this past weekend. The whole town came out to watch floats, marching bands, and of course, our dancers! The parade was a great time, with loads of Christmas lights, music, singing, and candy passed out to the kids...even Santa made an appearance!

We wore our school T-shirts [bright yellow this year!] with white long sleeved T's underneath [so the parade audience could see our arms in the darkness], black dance pants, and sneakers. Sparkly dance earrings and ponytails completed our school's parade look.


Parade by OnMyToesBlog featuring Nike athletic shoes

Unlike the Irish dance schools I danced for growing up [Shout-out to the Drake School! Great job at the Southern Regional Oireachtas!], my current dance school is not just for Irish dancers. We offer ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, & IRISH dance classes. The parade is a great opportunity for all of our dancers to have fun performing together. We danced to a song called, "The Rhythm of Rejoicing" which was the perfect tune for for jazz, ballet, and Irish dancers to shine! Listen to it... you'll hear the part that sounds like a jig [we danced a single jig to this portion of the song = more single-jigging than I've done since middle school!], and you can probably tell which part the ballerinas waltzed to!

What does your dance school wear during a parade? Are you dancing in any Christmas or holiday parades this winter? 

Keep dancing,
Old navy t shirt

Nike athletic shoes

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giveaways on Facebook [The Irish Dancer + Ryan & O'Donnell]

[While you're waiting for this weekend's Oireachtas Parades of Champions to be posted, why not enter to win a few fun  items for Irish dancers on Facebook?]

Do you follow your favorite Irish dance suppliers on Facebook? From shoes to costumes to tiaras, all the best vendors are on Facebook! Right now, two great contests are running on the social network. Here are the details:

Tiara [from The Irish Dancer]

Win a sparkling, gold plated, Aurora Borealis crystal Sinead Tiara from the Irish Dancer []. Just like their Facebook page [] by November 30! 
A crown for every Irish dance look! 

Hard & Soft Shoes [from Ryan & O'Donnell]

Win a pair of hard & soft shoes via Ryan & O'Donnell's Facebook page []. Simply click the social sweepstakes tab at the top of their page [] to enter by December 8th!  Every entry will also receive 15% off an online order through December 19th :)

How awesome would it be to win a whole new set of dance shoes!?

Good luck dancers! Thanks The Irish Dancer and Ryan & O'Donnell for these fabulous giveaways! 

Keep Dancing,

[Note: These giveaway contests are not from On My Toes. I'm just sharing these giveaways from two of quality suppliers of goods for Irish dancers worldwide.]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Long Live

I said remember this moment, in the back of my mind,
The time we stood with our shaking hands
The crowds and stands went wild.
We were the Kings and the Queens
And they read off our names
The night you danced like you knew our lives
Would never be the same

I can't help but think of some of my past Oireachtas memories every time I listen to this song. I can't look back to standing on top of the Southern Regional Oireachtas podium with my senior mixed ceili team without a big grin on my face. I can't listen to these lyrics without remembering the feelings of joy we shared, as the voices filled a crowed hotel ballroom cheering for our team, arms around each other, smiles plastered on our made-up faces. 
Drake School of Irish Dance mixed senior ceili team, 2004
[That's me on the left!]
It's been 8 years [nearly a decade! eep!] since I last put on a costume for an Oireachtas competition, yet the memories are vibrant as ever. Some memories revolve around podiums, medals, world qualifications, and dreams coming true. Others involve flashbacks of heartbreak, missed opportunities, and tears. Regardless of the results of that year's regional competition, one factor resonates throughout my Oireachtas memories: the friendships I've made through dance and reflections on the unforgettable times we shared. 

With Oireachtas season in full swing, Irish dancers worldwide are practicing til their feet bleed to reach their personal goals. Some are working for a recall at their very first O. Champions are vying to crack the top 10. Veterans are waiting for their chance to return to the big stage at Worlds this spring in Boston. Everyone is reaching-to-a-star :)
My 1st Oireachtas, my 1st recall, my first 2-hand partner, and one of my dearest friends
If you're one of those dancers, here is my [extremely sappy, but heartfelt] message for you: I hope this year's Oireachtas is full of happy memories and goals achieved. I hope you dance your best. I hope if you cry, they are tears of joy. I hope you meet and exceed the standards you have set for yourself this year. I hope every last one of you makes it to Boston, but most of all, I hope you cherish the times you have with the friends and dancers you are surrounded by: the dancers you share your classes with, the dancers you share the Oireachtas stage with, and hopefully the dancers you share the podium with. 

Seems like just yesterday! So glad to still call this beautiful dancer my friend :)
I'm so thankful for the cherished friendships I've made through Irish dance. I'm not sure what exactly makes Irish dance friendships different than the friendships I've made outside of dance, but they really are unique. Maybe it's the literal blood, sweat, and tears we shed together over the years. Maybe it's the long hours spent at dance studios, in hotels, and on stage together. Regardless of why, my dance friends remain the people I can call and pick things up with like we just had lunch yesterday, even if we haven't chatted in months. They are the friends I can run into at a pub, dance a treble reel with the band together, and laugh hysterically about workshops and Oireachtas antics from years ago. From two-hand partners to former Oireachtas rivals, those dancers have remained my closest friends long after our medals and trophies have tarnished.

Long live the relationships you share with your fellow Irish dancers & long live the unforgettable memories you'll make with those friends at this year's Oireachtas! Best of luck to all!

Keep dancing,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eastern & Western Canadian Oireachtas Parades of Champions 2012

Wow. I really have no words to describe these these Parades of Champions. Well, I have no words except for grace, athleticism, beauty, strength, power, energy, innovation, tradition, elevation, talent, dedication, perfection... Ok. I lied. I have so many words for how amazing these dancers are. Congratulations, Canadian champion & best of luck in Boston!

[My apologies if this post takes longer to load... but I promise these 3 videos are worth the possible wait!] 

Western Canadian Region Oireachtas 2012 

Western Canadian Region Oireachtas 2012- Under 14 & Up Parade of Champions

Eastern Canadian Region Oireachtas 2012

Eastern Canadian Region Oireachtas 2012 Parade of Champions - Choreography

Eastern Canadian Region Oireachtas Parade of Champions 2012

To see some great pics of competitors at the Eastern Canadian Region Oireachtas, check out Irish Dancing Magazine's ECRO 2012 album on Facebook... filled with smiling faces and beautiful dresses! If you missed any details from the ECRO, visit the Eastern Canadian Region Oireachtas blog.

Is it just me, or does anyone else want to go practice for upwards of 5 hours right now!? Especially those of you who are prepping for your upcoming Oireachtas... So amazing.

Keep Dancing,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ceili of the Week: Bonfire Dance

The Bonfire Dance is ...
         --  A round dance
         --  For any number of couples [preferably not less than six]
         -- A dance traditionally danced on St. John's Eve, around a bonfire [hence the name!]

Movements of the Dance
         (a) Advance & Retire
         (b) Rings
         (c) Advance & Retire
         (d) Rings
         (e) Side-step In & Out
         (f) Link Arms
         (g) Side-step In & Out
         (h) Link Arms
         (i) The Rose
         (j) Swing and Exchange Partners

The Bonfire Dance performed by Cumann Ceili Vin, an Irish dancing group in Vienna, Austria
[Anyone else get warm fuzzies knowing how many people love Irish dance worldwide? LOVE.]

Why do I like this Ceili?
          Learning the Bonfire Dance is one of my first ceili memories as a beginning Irish dancer. I remember thinking "The Rose" was SO fun. This ceili requires dancers to stand with one hand on hip & one toe pointed during The Rose... so for some reason, that was a blast for my beginning Irish dancer, 6th grade self!
           From a teaching standpoint, this dance can be a lot of fun as well! My ceili class learned this dance on Halloween. I used it as an opportunity to talk about how the ancient Celts used to celebrate the festival of Samhain [from which our modern Halloween evolved]. My dancers also loved making a fake "bonfire" out of tutus we had at the studio, and dancing this ceili around the "flames."

Like I said in my last post, Halloween's Ceili Club was a costume class... and yes, that included the teachers! Here are Mrs. Sarah & I dressed in our costumes, a ballerina and a Lord of the Dance star! 

How was your Halloween? Did you school do anything special for the holiday? Have you danced the Bonfire Dance?

Keep Dancing,

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blog Challenge: Happy Halloween, Irish Dancers!

One of my favorite dance blogs, The Dance Buzz, issued yet another fun challenge this month: share an idea for a fall dance class!

Now, I love fall just as much as the next girl, but here in Florida, fall isn't all that special [Correction: fall isn't that special besides Florida Football! GO GATORS!]. The leaves don't change color or fall off the trees. The weather is just now beginning to get a bit chilly, by Florida standards of course.  Nothing really makes fall stand out from summer here in the sunshine state...except for Halloween!

My roomie carved this adorable University of Florida jack-o-lantern! #freehand
I'll be the first to admit, I'm slightly super obsessed with Halloween. First of all, the Irish practically invented Halloween, not to brag [read this article to see what I'm talking about]. Secondly, what's not to love about a holiday that includes costumes, candy, parties, candy, trick-or-treating, and did I mention, candy?! [Hi, my name is Moira, and I'm addicted to candy...] Anyway, combining one of my favorite holidays and Irish dance is even more exciting than a mountain of candy!

Lucky for me, Halloween falls on a Wendsday this year, and on Wednesdays, I teach a super fun class called Ceili Club :) For Halloween, the dancers are encouraged wear a dance costume of their choice to class, instead of their usual dress code [plain white top, black shorts or skirt, and poodle socks]... how fun is that?! I've seen some cute pictures of other Irish dance costume classes for Halloween [like Scoil Rince Saoirse] & I'm thrilled for ours :) Oh, and I'll be channeling my inner Lord of the Dance star for class...teaching in a costume inspired by the show! [photo in costume to follow]

This LOTD costume to be exact...on the ladies. I will NOT be wearing a gold satin shirt  :)
On top of costumes at Ceili Club, I'm planning to teach a Halloween-esque ceili. I'm thinking we'll dance the Bonfire Dance. Although the Bonfire Dance was traditionally danced on St. John's Eve, I think it's perfectly suited for a ceili class that falls on Halloween. Centuries ago, the ancient Celts celebrated Samhain, or the end of summer, at the time when we now celebrate Halloween. Since they believed on this day the spirits of the dead could return to the mortal world, those crafty ancient Celts lit bonfires and wore disguises [read: costumes!] to ward off malevolent spirits. I can't think of a more perfect way to celebrate Halloween than to dance the bonfire dance in costume... just in case there are any evil spirits trying to get into the dance studio?! SpoOooOOoooky :) 

Want to learn more about the history of Samhain in Ireland, and how that has influenced our modern celebration of Halloween? Read this great article from Irish Central: Top Ten Irish Traditions for Halloween

Happy Halloween, Irish dancers! What are you doing to celebrate? Does your dance school do anything fun & spooky for the holiday?

Keep Dancing,

PS: Here's my treat for all of you... My all-time favorite seasonal video, "Halloween" by Jerry Seinfeld! Enjoy & get candy :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Giveaways on Facebook [The Irish Dancer & Usula Celano Ireland]

Two great giveaways for Irish dancers are currently running on Facebook! Up for grabs are a lovely bag and purse set + a gorgeous tiara. Be sure to enter for a chance to win!

Bag & Purse set [Ursula Celano Ireland]

Win a traditional boat bag and matching purse by liking and sharing Ursula Celano Ireland's picture on Facebook! Enter by Halloween [October 31] for a chance to win.

Link to the picture to like and share:

... wouldn't it make a lovely dance bag? Or beach bag? Or school bag? ...So many possibilities!
Tiara [The Irish Dancer]

Win a stunning gold plated, A/B crystal Sinead Tiara from The Irish Dancer [] by liking their Facebook page [] Enter by November 30th!

The perfect crowing touch for any Irish dancing look! 

Good luck to all, and thanks Ursula Celano Ireland and The Irish Dancer for these great giveaways! 

Keep Dancing,

[Note: These giveaway contests are not from On My Toes. I'm just sharing these great giveaways from two of my favorite suppliers of goods for Irish dancers worldwide]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Irish Dancing: Gangnam Style

I honestly have no words for how hilarious I find this parody of  "Gangnam Style" from the Drake School of Irish Dance...

Sometimes Irish dance is ALL about dresses and wigs and perfect feet and winning...and sometimes Irish dance is just about having way too much fun with your dance school and being seriously silly with your teachers! This video from the Drake School manages to combine it all.

Oh, and yes, this is my old dance school, and my fabulous TCRG, the one and only, Mr. Karl Drake. 

Drake's "Gangnam Style" parody definitely had this Drake alumna cracking up at her computer. What do you think of their take on Gangnam style? 

Keep dancing [and laughing!],

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dance Outfit of the Day: Hot Pink + Navy

I've been on vacation for the last two weeks-ish, and today it's back to the real world...including dance! This outfit is almost identical to the one I'll be sporting at class tonight.

Dance Outfit of the Day

Top: Hot pink [October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, after all] & flowy [since I've been in Italy eating far too much delicious pasta]

Leggings: Capri length so my students can actually see my feet, and navy [I'm loving this hot pink + navy combo]

Shoes: Trainers, lights, & heavies [duh!]

Hairband: Required to keep my massive quantities of unruly hair off my face! I usually wear my hair in a bun, but my locks have a mind of their own...

What do you wear to dance? How do you keep your hair back? Does your dance school have a dress code?

Keep dancing,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What's in Shelly's Dance Bag?

[Remember this summer's "What's in my Dance Bag?" series? It's back! I'm out of town in Italy this week, so in place of "Ceili of the Week," here's a fun look into another fantastic Irish dancer & blogger's dance bag...enjoy!]

Shelly Allen is an open championship Irish dancer who dances with the Shelley School of Irish Dance in Utah, USA. She is also an artist who specializes in graphic art, photography & web design. Visit Shelly's website:

My name is Shelly Allen! I dance with the Shelley School of Irish Dance in Utah, USA. I've been dancing with the school for 9 years now. When I'm not dancing, I love to create graphic art, take photos of other Irish dancers, and update my Irish dance blog ( ).

My dance bag is basically a small carry-on travel bag. I bought it a couple years ago when I was traveling a lot to feiseanna. It's small enough to fit in any luggage compartment, yet big enough to fit everything I need (minus a solo dress) for a weekend feis trip. Since transferring shoes and other things from one bag to another all the time can increase the risk of losing things, I take the same bag to class during the week. I have never bought anything but Rutherford Super-Flexi hard shoes. I love that even when they aren't yet broken in, I can still toe walk in them. I always buy Hulluchan 2 ghillies. I actually prefer Hulluchan Pros, but they stopped making them a few years ago. I love that they are padded on the inside and they hug your feet better than cheaper brands. I also like to keep some practice sneakers in my bag for long classes. My feet will start to cramp up if I've been dancing in my tight ghillies for more than 2 hours, that's when these practice sneakers come in handy.

As I said, my bag can fit a lot of things at once. I've packed for a 2 day, 3 night trip to the Oireachtas a few times and easily fit everything I needed in this bag! Since I haven't gone to a feis for a few months now, until I pulled everything out to take photos, I'd forgotten a lot of this stuff was in there!

Besides my shoes, here's a list of everything else I found in my bag:
  • Headphones ~ Great for long flights that offer free movies or satellite TV on the way to a feis.
  • Flower Hair Clip ~ I wear this flower with my pink solo dress. I've started just keeping it in my bag so I don't every forget to bring it to shows.
  • Bobby Pins & Pony-tail Holders ~ I use these pretty much every class, plus I need them for shows to help keep my wig on.
  • Theraband ~ We use these in class to stretch our feet and ankles. I bought one off Tina so I could stretch my feet at home as well.
  • Black Duct Tape ~ To keep my hard shoes from slipping at shows.
  • Blister Bandages ~ I use these when breaking in new hard shoes. I still don't know how to prevent blisters!
  • Safety Pins ~ I always keep a few of these in my bag to pin on my competition number at feiseanna.
  • Extra Shoes Laces ~ You never know when you're gunna need one!
  • Oireachtas Badge ~ I didn't even realize I still had this in my bag! I got it at the 2011 Oireachtas and forgot to take it out and put it with my trophies. :)
  • Bun Wig and Tiara ~ Our dance company does a lot of shows this time of year, so I've just been keeping my bun wig and tiara in my bag so I never forget it. It's always embarrassing to be the one dancer who doesn't quite match everyone else.
  • Sock Glue ~ We all know what this is for... :) However, this particular bottle is completely empty. I'm only keeping it in my bag to remind myself to buy a new bottle!
  • Sweat Shirt ~ I always keep one of these in my bag. I don't know about you, but I sweat a lot in class. Sometimes it's nice to have an extra layer to hide all the perspiration. ;)
I've been using this bag for about 5 years now and I love it. We've seen a lot of great times together! The sides are a little beat up, but I won't be giving it up anytime soon. It's going to see a lot more feiseanna before I'm done with it.

Photos & blog post by Shelly Allen.
Visit Shelly's Irish dance blog:
Check out Shelly's Irish Dance graphic art on Facebook: Irish Dance

[Thanks so much to Shelly Allen for this wonderful peek into her beloved dance bag! I adore her wonderful photography, blog, and AMAZING graphic art!] 

Keep Dancing,
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