Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blog Challenge: Performance Pictures

May's monthly blog challenge from The Dance Buzz asked for performance pictures, in light of the current "recital season" for dance studios.

I'm happy to have been a part of a dance recital for the first time in many, many years! The Williston School of Dance [WSD] held their 34th Annual Recital, "On Broadway." I'm so thankful to have served as WSD's Irish dancing intern [& occasional substitute teacher] this spring! From the beginning Irish dancers [as young as 1st grade], up to the advanced Irish dance class [middle & high me, the resident old lady], the WSD Irish dancers graced the stage with entertaining, Broadway-themed performances. Choreographed by WSD's Artistic Director [& my fearless leader], Mrs. Sarah, all six Irish routines were a smashing success!

I would also like to note, that although this video is hilariously adorable, I'm really glad no ballet brawls occurred at the WSD recital! [My favorite part is the dance teachers swooping in to break up the tutu-wearing fight club!]

Can't help but laugh, right? Me either. Now, back to blog-challenge business.

Aside from the WSD recital, the Irish dancers have barely stopped performing all spring! They have performed in St. Patrick's Day Shows, Gainesville's "Spotlight on Youth" for talented local high school students, served as entertainment between competitors at "Gainesville's Really Got Talent" [which a WSD Irish dancer won last year!], and provided entertainment between dances at another prominent dance studio's recital. These kids are truly professionals! I should also mention that the Williston School of Dance is not just for Irish dancers. The ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop dancers of WSD were also beyond spectacular in the recital! If I included photos of all the classes and all the spring performances, this post would be miles and miles long!

Here are some of my favorite Irish dance photos from "On Broadway." [Special thanks to Lisa Dampier for taking this photos! Her sweet, little Libby is in the Introductory Irish class.]

"Finnian's Rainbow" - Introductory Irish
How sweet are these ruffled costumes?! And those turned out little feet
... and the roly poly!? #cuteoverload

"The Pirate Queen" - Irish I
More adorableness, and look at those lifts!
Can you spot the set of 4 brothers in this class? Let's hear it for the boys!

"Dancing at Lughnasa" - Advanced Irish
Performing treble jigs and treble reels in their solo costumes
... just because they don't compete, doesn't mean they don't earn their solo costumes :)
"Lord of the Dance" - Irish II
These girls are simply fabulous! Their improvement over the past few months has amazed me.
Can't wait to see them continue to grow as dancers next year!
"The Titanic" - Irish III & up
A medley of traditional sets, hornpipes, treble jigs, & treble reels: Choreographing The Blackbird &
St. Patrick's Day in a unique and interesting way? Mission accomplished, by Mrs. Sarah ;)
 "Riverdance" - Irish III & up

The final pose of the grand "Riverdance" finale! 
Aside from the overall amazingness that was "On Broadway," the show ended with a special awards ceremony. I thought this was really sweet, and so meaningful to the dancers. Ballet dancers received ribbons for each year dancing on pointe. Trophies were awarded out to dancers who finally achieve the seemingly impossible goal of getting their splits! Dancers with perfect attendance received a trophy as well. Certificates were presented to dancers who always attended class dressed appropriately & with the proper shoes [yes, we keep track of the dress code]. Multiple classes means multiple chances for awards! Some dancers got more trophies than I can count with one hand :)

Where's Moira? Hint: I'm handing out awards! 
Keep Dancing & Performing,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's in S.J.'s Dance Bag?

Our next dance bag comes from one of my favorite Irish Dance bloggers... S.J. from RincePop! S.J. is a professional multimedia journalist by day, Irish dancer by night. 

Isn't she lovely?
She currently works at The Buffalo News as multimedia content coordinator for and regularly blogs for She also maintains Her Irish dance-themed news articles, videos and blogs have appeared in Hornpipe Magazine, Feis America Magazine, The Irish Times, The Buffalo Irish Times, I Heart That Dance blog, and -- and and, of course!

S.J. dances with the Clann Na Cara School of Irish Dance in Buffalo and is a newbie flamenco dancer. 

And without further ado, let's see what's in S.J's Dance bag...

I've tried so many time to clean out my bag, a hardy medium-sized L.L. Bean Tote, but I always end up stuffing it full of dance necessities and other goofy junk. 

Here's what I found in my dance bag today, in no particular order: hard shoes, ghillies, flamenco shoes (I just took up the Spanish dance form this year), shoe horn, headband, sock glue, baby powder, stray socks, deodorant, shoe polish, lotion, anti-bac, sewing kit, lip balm, pen, permanent marker, Ar Rince Foirne and Back to Back booklets (gotta have all the ceili steps on hand to know if the top gent turns clockwise), mini makeup kit from Sephora, digital camera (to record my teacher's steps when I know I won't remember them), hair pins, duct and electrical tape, iPod and little hamburger speaker (IT REALLY COMES IN HANDY),blinged shoe buckles, water bottle and two notebooks -- a Moleskine and an Ursula Celano, which I won from

Now, to explain myself. The hamburger speaker seems extravagant, I know. But I've actually used it a few times at competitions when I need to go through steps and don't want earbuds dangling from my head. It's nice -- like having a tiny boombox that fits in a pocket. And as for the two notebooks, I'm a journalist by trade, so I'm always interviewing people or writing down potential story ideas. So one of the notebooks acts as a reporter's notebook, and the other is more of a dancer journal.

Love S.J. and this dance bag? [I do!] Here's more from S.J. on the web:
RincePop [blog]
RincePop [facebook]
@RincePop [twitter]
Irish Dance and Pop Culture [blog on Irish Central] [tumblr]

Keep Dancing,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's in Sara's Dance Bag?

Continuing the "What's in my Dance Bag" series is the beatuful and talented Sara. An Open Champion dancer with the Maple School, Sara is truly multi-talented. She's a gymnast-turned-Irish-dancer, putting her bachelors degree in music education to good use as an elementary school music subsitute teacher... and she's also a library page. On top of all that, she also writes one of my favorite Irish dance blogs on the web, Rince Go Bragh. [I'm not ashamed to admit that her blog was an inspiration for me to start this lovely blog myself!] Did I mention that she's competed at Worlds and is currently preparing for the Southern Regional Oireachtas? This girl can do it all!

Sara in her gorgeous solo dress, which
happens to be a present from her sweet boyfriend! 

Now...onto the good stuff: What's in Sara's Dance Bag?

This is my dance bag.  It's navy blue and emblazoned with the name of my old gymnastics team.  There are four pockets: the huge center bit, one on each side, and a tiny front pocket.  What's unique about my badis that it's celebrating it's 12th birthday this year.  I suppose it can be considered a dinosaur as far as bags are concerned, but it does it's job, and does it well. Before it became my dance bag, it spent six years being toted to every gymnastics practice and competition I attended.  We've had a long history together.

The shoes I keep in my dance bag:
1) Comfortable practice ghillies.
2) Rutherford heavies I've been meaning to break in now for over a year...
3) Competition ghillies that fit snugly.
4) Well-worn and much loved heavies.

Other things:
1) Bag-ception.  Because one bag is not enough.
2) Conditioning for Dancers.  I found this book at Barnes and Noble when I first became dancing and picked it up hoping it had some great turnout exercises.  What I got was a full-body anatomy lesson that focused on the bones, joints, and muscles ballet dancers use.  It does have some good tips for stretching certain areas, as well as a handful of useful exercises.
3) Theraband.  For ankle strengthening exercises, and other resistance type activities.  This is another remnant from my gymnastics days.

1) Duct tape
2) Emergency shoe polish
3) Advil
4) Body lotion
5) Deodorant
6) Small Ace bandages just in case of a shin splint flare-up.
7) Empty athletic tape roll
8) Icy Hot
9) Neosporin
10) Electrical tape
11) Tiger Balm
12) Elmer's glue sticks to hold up my socks.
13) Hand sanitizer spray
14) Emergency tampon
15) Band-aids

Can't get enough Sara?
Rince Go Bragh [blog]
@RinceGoBragh [twitter]
Rince Forever [tumblr]

Keep Dancing,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What's in My Dance Bag?

I'm very excited to announce a new series for this lovely little blog of mine: "What's in my Dance Bag?" This series was inspired by one of my favorite non-dance blogs, The Small Things [a phenominal style + beauty + lifestyle blog written by the lovely, Kate]. Several of my favorite Irish dance bloggers are on-board for this fun series [you'll have to wait and see who!], and I can't wait to peek into their dance bags. 

Here's a look into my dance bag, which accompanies me to 3 days of dance class per week. 

[1] Pink Drawstring Bag from Fay's Irish Dancing Shoes: This is the smallest dance bag I've ever had, but it gets the job done... and forces me to regularly clean out my dance bag.

Dance Sneakers + Lights + Heavies
[2] Nike Zoom dance sneakers: I found these amazing dance sneakers at a Nike Factory Store years ago. I love them! They have flexible arches like all dance sneakers, but aren't bulky like some I've had in the past. Plus, they have cool dragons on the heels!
See the cool dragons?! Irish dance meets Asian awsomeness
[3] Hullachan Soft Shoes, also from Fay's Irish Dancing Shoes: These are the fanciest soft shoes I've ever bought, and I'm not even competing?! Tell me how much sense that makes. I've always worn the traditional, tan leather bottomed Antonio Pachelli gazelles. I love the look of black laces against the tan soles, when wrapped around the arches of a dancer's feet. [I think I watched my Riverdance VHS one too many times, because that has Jean Butler written all over it.] Regardless, I LOVE these black-bottomed shoes. They are the most comfortable soft shoes I've ever worn. Period.

[4] Black-soled Heavy Shoes: These are so old I'm not even sure if they're Rutherford's or Fay's. Sad? Maybe. But I love these shoes. I wore them at Worlds, and I'll probably never part with them :) The buckles go way back too. My first buckles were cute silver and bright green shamrocks. These square buckles were my second and only other pair. Perhaps I'll splurge and get rhinestone square buckles someday! I love buckles, when paired with turned out feet!

[5] Black Convertible Tights: As a Florida girl, I live in flip flops... so convertible tights are a must! These are extras... likely a back-up pair I threw in my bag for a performance.

[6] Black Legwarmers: I like to pretend to be a ballerina sometimes. I also have hot pink, light pink, and rainbow heart legwarmers... I really should take a ballet class.

[7] Dance Bag Extras:
So necessary.
Rimmel London Stay Glossy lip gloss in Unlimited Gold
Inhaler... must have accessory for all asthmatic Irish dancers!
Maybelline Baby Lips in Peach Kiss
Vera Bradley coin purse in Cupcakes Pink [retired pattern]

[8] Ankle Supports: No explanation needed.

So, that's what's in my dance bag... Stay tuned for looks into the dance bags of some of my [and your] favorite Irish dancing bloggers!

Keep Dancing,

Oh, and I can't forget my key chains. Because I'm so cool :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Thank You Post :)

As I confessed in my post last week, I'm slightly hopelessly addicted to Pinterest. So, you can imagine my overwhelming excitement when I came across an unexpected pin while looking at Irish dance pinboards...

....It's ME! I did a double-take. Can't find me? Don't worry, I'll help :)

I also love that whoever made this pinboard also pinned some of my absolute favorite blogs: The Long Road to the TCRG, Shelly Hathaway's The Irish Dancer Blog, Confessions of a Feis Mom, Irish Central, and the Irish Dance Teacher's Blog [look on the right side of my blog for links to all those wonderful blogs, and more].

I just wanted to take this post to thank all of you wonderful readers & followers! I love writing this blog, but without readers, writing would be pretty pointless. Thanks for following my blog, twitter, and pinterest. Who knew comments on my blog, retweets on twitter, and this little pin on pinterest could feel this awesome?! You guys are the BEST!

Keep Dancing,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dress Inspiration: Coco Rocha at the Met Gala

Coco Rocha, the Irish dancer turned fabulous model, turned heads at this years Met Gala wearing a vintage Givenchy jumpsuit once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. Amongst impeccably dressed celebrities, models, and socialites, Coco's unconventional ensemble was truly unmatched. Her bright pink and canary yellow jumpsuit, embellished with glittering silver and gold beaded paisleys, stood out in a sea of couture gowns. On top of that, her bright pink highlights complimented the look magnificently. [I'm a sucker for pink hair! I fell in love with Cindy Lauper and her colorful locks in preschool and never got over it.] I adore this look, from her pink locks to her peachy, orange shoes. Not everyone could pull off this adventurous jumpsuit, but Coco pulls it off perfectly.
[Photo found on Zimbio]
As soon as I saw this look, Coco made it to the top of my best-dressed list. After admiring her bold fashion choice, my mind made the next logical step: translating her Met Ball look into an Irish dancing costume! [Duh. This is really how my brain works.] Her jumpsuit has everything an Irish dancer needs onstage: bold, bright colors, sparkly embellishments, and a one of a kind look. Perfection! I found several costumes [that happen to be for sale] that share some of these characteristics with Coco's jumpsuit.

If I could design an Irish dancing look based on Coco's vintage Givenchy, I would include...
- Bright pink bodice with canary yellow "ballet shrug"
- Canary yellow soft skirt
- Loads of silver and gold paisley detail on skirt and shrug
- A low, side ponytail with loose curls [neon pink dye optional]

What do you think of Coco's look? Would you wear a pink and yellow solo costume? Do you think Coco's background in Irish dance influenced her fashion choice for the Met Ball?

Keep Dancing,

More about Coco's smashing Met Gala fashion from EllePeople, and [my personal favorite] Feisonista.
Listings of the dresses feautred in this post [clockwise from upper left corner]:
Loretta's Dresses design [on Get that Dress]
Another lovely Loretta [on Get that Dress]
Adorable star covered dress [on Glitxy Irish Dance]
Super fun dress [on Glitxy Irish Dance]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pinterest Round-Up

I need a pintervention. 

Seriously, Pinterest is my favorite thing. This glorious website has taught me new ways to do my hair, paint my nails, put together stylish outfits, organize my life, decorate my apartment, and cook dinner. Not only does Pinterest inspire me to make my life lovelier, but it also provides a wealth of fun new Irish dance related pictures, crafts, websites, and more. Typing "Irish dance" into the search box at the top of the Pinterest screen turns up everything from stunning photos to delicious dance themed treats to humorous memes. Seriously, it's endless fun :)

These are my favorite Irish dance Pinterest finds this week... 
Most exquisite cake and cookies ever!
This cake was made for a new TCRG after passing her exam.
I'm extra obsessed with it because my very first
school dress had that exact swan embroidered on it.
Made by Tradewind Tiaras

Sweet soft shoes! Available from Peapod Cookies on Etsy
The height of fashion circa Oireachtas season 1999
I still love it.  
So thankful my mom made all my dresses...
NYC St. Peep-trick's Day Parade, complete
with marshmallowy Irish dancers.
How sweet would this photo display be for an Irish dancer?
Just replace the ballet slippers with old soft shoes. Obsessed!

Keep dancing & follow me on Pinterest,

Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blog Challenge: Dance Imagery

Preface: Life got in the way of updating my blog for a little while. My apologies, but I'm glad to be back in the blogospehere! I've missed you all terribly :)

The Dance Buzz's April blog challenge (yes, I know it's May) centered around "dance imagery." What exactly does that mean, you ask? Dance imagery refers to metaphors dancers and teachers use to better describe movements and techniques.  

What exactly does that mean to Irish dancers? Pretty much nothing. For many years, I've been acutely aware that the language of Irish dance isn't particularly pretty. We don't have the romantic, elegant sound of ballet. French is the language of love, after all, and also the language of ballet. Even though our terminology is in Irish (Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne, Feis, An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, Ár Rincí Fóirne, etc.), the only Irish word I've frequently heard used in class is "Ceili."

After teaching class for 3 hours tonight, I don't think I uttered any words of "dance imagery." I don't really use metaphors. I, like most Irish dance teachers I've learned from, am very straight forward. Even with the little ones, my wording is quite plain and unimaginative. Here's the short list of my most used phrases whilst teaching...

"Point your toes!"
"Turn your feet OUT!"
"Turn out the back foot!"
"Crossed position"
"Don't sickle your foot"
"Keep your arms down"
"Count in your head"
"UP on your toes"
... and my #1 (the dancers will attest to my overuse of this phrase): "KICK YOUR BUTT!"

None of those create the least bit of imagery.

On occasion, I've told dancers to pretend they had a yardstick taped to their back (as a reminder to keep their backs straight). When explaining how to do a proper bow, Mrs. Sarah (our fearless leader at the dance school), told the kiddos to imagine they were a drawbridge, coming up and down perfectly straight. That's actually the best example of "imagery" I've heard in an Irish dance class in a long time :)

If I had to choose one piece of universal "dance imagery" for Irish dancers, "Over-the-bridge" is the best I can do.   As I got older, "UP-2-3" became my mental phrase of choice for leaps, but I still say over-the-bridge constantly. It's so unique to Irish dance. However, that phrase never made much sense to me. Looking back to my first experience with overs, I know I was thinking, "Over the bridge? Over what bridge? Why am I hopping over a bridge? I'm not a giant! What does this mean?!" Even our Irish dance imagery is baffling. I've heard teachers say, "Over-the-fence," which makes slightly more sense. A white picket fence is a much more reasonable height to leap over than a bridge. Seriously...

An honorable mention goes to any Irish dance phrase that equates a heavy landing to becoming a large, African land mammal. "You sound like a heard of elephants!" "Are you an rhino?!" "Don't land like an hippo!" You get the idea.  

Hippopotamus two-hand, anyone?
What are your favorite Irish dance metaphors? 

Keep dancing... and not landing your over-the-bridges like elephants,
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