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,
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