Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Heart That! Dance welcomes a new monthly blogger!

Are you sick of the holiday hustle and bustle, shoveling snow/putting up decorations, and the crowds at the mall? Worried about how many holiday cookies you can consume and still fit into your costume?

Are your dancers’ toes itching to jig in their snowman adorned woolen socks? Can’t wait to hear the sounds of accordions and fiddles drifting out of a school gymnasium on a Saturday afternoon at a feis?

Never fear!

Starting in 2010, sit back and relax and read the monthly musings of a Senior Lady’s adventures in Irish Dance!

My name is Colleen aka Ginger (ginger pants, ginger snap, you get the drift..)

Your friendly guest blogger jumping on the beach in San Diego

I’ve had the great fortune to be in the Irish Dance world for over 14 years, traveling the world and doing what I love.

Stay tuned for hints, tips, and tricks of the Irish Dance trade, as well as a story or two on fascinating topics as “Fake hair and You: How to change your hair to any color of the rainbow in as little as two minutes” and “New Brand Name Irish Dance Dress = Raisin Bran for dinner”.

See you in 2010!


Check out Colleen's January post here!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday? Who cares?

But it IS St. Andrew's Day, so we're having a BOGO! Buy one of our in-stock items in our Artfire shop:


and get a second item of equal or lesser value for 50% off! AND you can still use our 10% off discount code on your entire order!

The sale will run until midnight EST TODAY ONLY Monday November 30th

Now for some fine print: The 50% is off the ORIGINAL price of the item. Remember to use the coupon code for the 10% on checkout, and we will refund the 50% off one item once we get the receipt from Paypal. We can also send a revised invoice if you prefer so you don't have to pay first and get refunded, but we won't remove the item from the shop until payment is complete.  If you want to do it this way just send us an message right on ArtFire via the Contact Artisan button with the items you want or an email directly at


Thanks for looking and happy shopping!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Sun Will Come Out.. Tomorrow

Well, according to the current weather forecast anyway. The point being, it is not out TODAY, which is the day I had planned to take photos of all our stock items and list them in our Artfire shop.

But, with deadlines fast approaching for shipping (see this post) I really want to let you guys know what we've got in stock and ready to ship! So I'm going to post a list -- if you want anything, just send us an email at thegirls@iheartthatdance.com and we will send you a link to make the credit card payment.

If you'd like to see a picture of something, just let me know and I can snap a quick one -- it's taking the e-commerce worthy fancy schmancy ones that take sunny days and lots of time.

Now for the list (tartans used in applique are listed where applicable). Links will be added as the items become available over at Artfire (note the prices there are in USD)!

Pajama Pants: $25 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Long-Sleeve Shrugs: $35 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Legwarmers: $30 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Messenger Bag: $45 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Open-Top Tote: $40 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Practice Mat Bag: $35 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable

Deluxe Makeup Bag: $25 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Sword Carry Case: $35 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable
Throw Pillow Cover: $17.50 Canadian + shipping & tax where applicable

In addition to the things listed here, we also have a wide variety of MP3 player felted cozies (like this one), Zippy makeup pouches and hair accessories in stock! Just send us an email at


if you are looking for something in particular!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


All your Christmas shopping problems solved -- come check out the great offerings from the vendors at Diddlyi! Plenty of special deals for Diddlyi members too!

Click on the banner to go to the main catalog page or come check us out here:


REMEMBER: Ordering deadlines for Christmas are fast approaching! See our Shipping Deadlines post for more details.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shipping Deadlines!

Hoping to get it in time for Christmas? Here are our ordering deadlines:

These are based on the holiday shipping information from Canada Post for regular parcel service (expedited within Canada). **EXCEPTION** International surface shipping takes 4-6 weeks, so that deadline has passed for custom orders. The dates shown in the chart are for air shipping -- please contact us for a quote!

Missed the deadline? We've got options!

1) Buy a Gift Certificate from the online store! You get the confirmation and web code in your email right away.

2) We can certainly finish your custom order before Christmas past this deadline, and would be happy to email photos of the finished product to wrap up and put under the tree. We will also ship ASAP in the hopes that it will get there on time!

3) We will ship using overnight and 2-day courier options where available -- please contact us for a quote!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Featured Items For Irish Dancers Part Deux

Good afternoon IHTD shoppers! Here are the last two products destined for the inaugural issue of the Diddlyi Christmas Catalog:

Pajama Pants

Stay comfy and warm with these 100% cotton flannelette pajama pants in a selection of cute colours and embroidered with your choice of text and design! Any five-letter or less word is included in the price so YOU choose anything you like to make your pants one-of-a-kind. Additional letters available at a cost of $1.50 Canadian.

Ready to order? Visit the homepage:
Click on Knitwear & Clothing then PJ Pants
$25 Canadian + tax & shipping

Tote Bags

Great for carting around your dance stuff or anything else, these durable and spacious tote bags can be embroidered in your choice of five Celtic designs or your monogram. Match your solo or just pick your favourite colours -- a wide range of fabric choices for the applique means we can make YOUR bag perfect for YOU!

Ready to order? Visit the homepage:
Click on Bags then Open-Top Tote Bags
$40 Canadian + tax & shipping

And don't forget -- these are just a few of the great gifts for dancers we have available this holiday season! Check out our online store for dress bags, dress protectors, messenger bags, knitwear, bath & body and dance-proof mineral makeup too!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Featured Items For Irish Dancers

Well, it's that time of year y'all. A chill is in the air, kids are on their best behaviour and everywhere you look it's all sparkle and the colours of the season. Yes, that's right, it's time for... the Oireachtas!

Ha, gotcha :D OK, in all seriousness, I know many of you are wondering what to do this holiday season to treat yourself or your favourite dancer, say thank you to the TC who saw you through another year of competition or to make sure your dancing BFF gets the perfect gift. Well, we're here to help.... and it's not just us!

Coming soon, the fabulous folks over at Diddlyi will be presenting an all-ID Christmas Catalog (you know, like Sears, only probably with more rhinestones :) ) Those of us who are vendors over there will be participating to present some of our gift ideas for you guys, plus there will be some great contests with AMAZING prizes! So if you are not a member of the Diddlyi community don't wait to join in the festivities --sign up here:


In the meantime, I can at least tell you what we'll be featuring in the catalog! Based on an informal poll of the lovely IDers and ID dance moms over on Twitter, here's the first few items we have decided to go with:

Ghillie Slippers

They really are as comfy as they look :) Totally adorable ghillie style slippers are hand-knitted from 100% wool and felted to your size!

Ready to order? Visit the homepage:
Click on Knitwear & Clothing, and then Ghillie Slippers
$30 Canadian + tax & shipping


A dancer favourite! Knit with very soft yarn to keep your legs toasty warm during warm ups and between dances (plus great for keeping your poodle socks clean at a feis). There's an adjustable elastic tucked into the cuff at the top, so they are sure to stay up! Comes in either plain or striped and decorated with your choice of embellishment if you like: flowers, hearts, stars, or shamrocks.

Ready to order? Visit the homepage:
Click on Knitwear & Clothing, and then Legwarmers
$30 Canadian + tax & shipping

Wig Bag

Keep your Irish dance wig frizz free with this satin lined bag. Drawstring handle closure -- opens flat so you don't have to stuff your wig in there and ruin the curl. Applique on the bottom in one of our signature designs or your monogram. The photo on the far right is my wig, cooperatively modelling for the wig bag shoot -- note that the bag isn't fully open here.

Ready to order? Visit the homepage:
Click on Bags, and then Wig Bag
$20- $25 Canadian + tax & shipping

Check back soon for our next installment of featured items!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Is Why There Has Been No Blog Posts Lately

Just follow the pink arrows :)

This is Laura, otherwise known as Lil Sprout, and she's been keeping me on my toes since August 15th :) So not so much time for blogging :P

But we're getting back into the swing of things and so there's LOTS of good stuff to come -- promise!

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Heart My Dance Parent Photo + Story Contest Winners!

The Girls @ IHTD are so happy to announce the results of our I Heart My Dance Parent Story and Photo Contest!

UNDER 17 WINNER: Kelly-Anne C.

No one other than me in my small family of three, my mom, my dad and I, dance, but everyone shares the spirit. Since the age of three, both of my parents have been very supportive of my Irish dancing. My mom got me started into it, and was the one that would bring me to competitions, class, and shows. Things were great.

When I was about ten years old, my mom went through a rough time medically. She had a less than perfect medical history to begin with, but at this time a doctor put her on a high does of medication, which gave her seizures. My mom lost her license, and her freedom. Simple things are now a chore, harder than ever. My mom lost one of her greatest joys, that was being able to attend every class, every competition, and every show. As hard as she tries to attend everything she can, it is very difficult for her. My dad pulled through amazingly well. He brings me to every competition he can possibly get to, to multiple classes a week. Both my parents were very supportive in my transferring of schools this past summer.

I find it amazing everything that they will do anything for my dancing, just because it is something that I love so much. Even through the recession: my dad losing his job, and our family finding it hard to pull things together, they found a way to still send me to dance. My dad has since gotten a job and my family is starting to recover. He is bringing me to more competitions, because he knows that that is something I enjoy.

I am a dancer in the Preliminary Championship level. I'm not used to placing, and when I started to place recently, my dad would be the first one up in the front – taking pictures of me, trying as hard as he can to catch my smiling face. A part of me knows that I owe my improvement in dancing to him. He helps me in more ways than he knows, driving me to practice, or lending me the car to go; paying for whatever I need for dancing; putting up with the repetitive accordion music he listens to day in and day out; building me a practice stage, taking me for runs to build up my stamina... there is so much more, but I can barely name everything that he does for me and my dancing. Without my parents, I wouldn't be where I am now in my dancing career, and I hope they are with me in this right until the end.


My mom is the reason I make it through any competition alive. She sees to it that my bun is in place, my outfit is neat, and every inch of visible skin is slathered with sunscreen. She helps me focus, talking to me when I need to talk and warding other people off when I need to be quiet. She is always proud and supportive, whether I win it all or don’t even place.

But these aren’t the best things my mom does for me. She supports me even more when it’s not competition time. She drives me four hours away once a month for dance classes, and in between she pushes me to do my best. She never lets me get away with “that’ll do,” but always makes sure I work as hard as I possibly can. She manages to balance challenging and supporting, pushing and loving. I don’t know how she does it.

All of these are wonderful, and they are all reasons why I “heart” my dance mom. But they aren’t the biggest reason. The biggest reason is abstract, intangible: it’s the life lessons she never fails to impart. “It’s your attitude – not your prizes – that matters most.” “Do your best, and I’ll be proud of you.” And most of all, “If the journey isn’t fun, it’s not worth it.”

This is what will still be with me years from now, when my turnout is gone, my elevation has faded, and my point has vanished. And that’s why I love my dance mom.

WINNER OVER 18: Hannah J.

I would like to nominate my Mom, Heather, for the I Heart My Dance Parent contest. My Dad passed away almost three years ago, and my Mom has done everything she can to keep me in the Irish dance scene. Although she hasn't come to a feis with me in many years, she stays by the phone to hear how I've done at each competition. She attends all of my dance dramas each year, and often helps fund part of my competitions since I have to travel to attend feisanna.

With my Dad's death, my Mom has had to take on many extra responsibilities, but she never ceases to remember how much Irish dance means to me. Her support has been invaluable! I come home from class each night to her waiting to hear how I did, and any stories I have to tell. She is truly an inspiration, and this summer she is hoping to make a vacation of my next feis; this is very exciting, and I know it would mean even more if she won this contest and could see just how much I appreciate all she does for our family. I love you, Mom; you rock my poodle socks!

Congratulations to our winners, and a BIG thank-you to all who entered -- as usual you made our choice very very difficult!

Stay tuned to the blog for your next contest and chance to win some great merchandise from I Heart That! Dance -- or sign up for the newsletter and get advance notice delivered right to your inbox (sign-up is in the green box right here on the blog in the right hand column).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet Our Nutritionist!

The Girls @ IHTD are so excited to present our latest blog feature -- introducing Registered Holistic Nutritionist Sarah Sinclair!

Sarah Says: It wasn’t until I started attending Highland Dance competitions on a regular basis, accompanying my boyfriend-now-husband “Glen the Piper”, that I began to appreciate dancing as not just an art form and expression of culture but as a sport. At first I was taken with the beautiful traditional costumes, the stories that accompanied the various dances and the unique sound of the pipes. But as I became more familiar with the steps, movements and nuances – it became very clear that this was no “hobby”. This was indeed a sport – just like any you’d see at the Olympics – and certainly just as physically and mentally demanding. Having a daughter who took lessons for two years, I started to learn about the importance of daily practice, regular instructional classes and almost weekly competitions. A dancers’ life is not his/her own – s/he dedicates hours every day on his/her craft.

However as time passed, I started to notice that one very important element seemed to be missing from the dancer’s “toolkit”. Ask any world-class athlete about their training and they will tell you that they keep a coach, manager, psychotherapist, RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) and Nutritionist in their corner. If you want to have world-class results, you’ve got to train like a world-class athlete. Now, before you get scared off and think – “OMG, this is going to be so hard” let me tell you a little about myself. I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist – so what the heck is that? A RHN is professionally trained to consult with individuals about their dietary needs. We look at each person individually since we believe that everyone has different needs, and believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself when provided with the proper nutrients. Having said that, there are certain “rules” that apply to most everyone – and those will be discussed here.

When you look in the mirror – what you see is 10% determined by genetics (your basic shape and the way your weight is distributed), 10% determined by level of activity (the amount of muscle tone) and a whopping 80% determined by your diet. Diet not only affects the amount and type of fat we store, but also your energy levels, moods, and overall health.

Over the next few months, this five-part series will discuss several different nutritional aspects crucial to the success and health of athletic dancers. Each part will also include “homework” – something that you can do right away to improve your current health and performance.

Part #1 The Importance of Proper Hydration

Part #2 Avoiding Illness to Maximize Training and Performance

Part #3 Achieving Higher Levels of Energy and Motivation

Part #4 Fueling the Body During Training/Practice Season

Part #5 Fueling the Body on Competition Day

So stayed tuned right here for more! We'll be bringing you Sarah's posts about once a month, with Part 1 coming the first week of July. If you are a Highland dancer attending SDCCS 2009 pop by our booth to pick up an advance copy!

Sarah R. Sinclair RHN is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist living and practicing in the London Ontario area. She graduated with Honors from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and is available to consult with individuals about their specific nutritional needs, speak to groups on a variety of health related topics and provide articles for publication. Sarah believes that optimum health and the avoidance of disease can be achieved simply and effortlessly by making small, manageable changes to one’s diet and lifestyle. Sarah can be reached at (519) 474-9169, or emailed by clicking here.

Can’t wait to get started?
Try this: Start every morning with a piece of fruit instead of juice. The fibre found in the flesh of the fruit will help keep you feeling fuller longer, and increase the bulk in your digestive system leading to healthier bowel movements. Processing fruit into juice results in the loss of many nutrients. Giving your body these extra vitamins first thing in the morning gets you started off right. Eat the fruit about 20 minutes before any other foods since it digests much quicker.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer's Here! Ready for a Road Trip?

Join the TransCanada Etsy Street Team for their cross-country celebration of Canada Day this year to learn a bit about our country, a lot about our artisans and take advantage of some great specials. And what road trip would be complete without some souvenirs? We've got two amazing prizes on offer for participating buyers -- a fabulous goodie bag valued at over $350 US and a gorgeous t-shirt rug designed and woven by Pegg of Five Forty from t-shirts donated by team members from all across the country. Just check these prizes out!

One of the things that makes our team special is its diversity of sellers: we have textile and fiber artists, soapers, paper-crafters, book-binders, jewelry makers and more, with many of our team members focusing their efforts on eco-friendly and sustainable crafting. There are 20 great participating shops -- spending $10 US in any of these listed during the promotion gets you one ticket into the raffle for our prizes (winners to be announced July 2nd). Or you can get one ticket without purchase by writing a short essay describing your favourite Canadian thing (place, person, food, book, band, artist, etc). Tell us why you love it and what it means to you, then send in your entry by contacting Sara of PiggyTails Stationary through her shop.

You will need to sign up for an Etsy account if you haven't already -- it's free and easy! Check out the step by step instructions here:

Register for Etsy Now!

Then go peruse the fabulous offerings from our All-Canadian team :)

Jewelry and Accessories:


Cards and Journals:

Bath & Body:


House and Home:

Handmade Supplies:

Thanks so much for looking! Stay tuned to the TransCanada Team Blog for features on all of these artists during the promotion -- and don't hesitate to contact us if there are any questions, as always, we're here to help :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Vacation!

Well, sort of :) Maggie and the Ferocious Beast (aka Ally's sewing machine and serger) are getting some well deserved time off this coming summer when Ally has her baby in August. So this means that the sewing side of the business will be on hiatus until mid-October when we start to accept custom sewing orders again for Christmas.

So the last day to place orders for custom sewing items will be July 5th. To encourage early orders, we're offering 15% off any custom sewing items on orders placed before June 30th (in-stock items not eligible).

Orders can be placed on the website here:
I Heart That! Dance Online Store

Here are the important dates!

June 15th
Last day to order for pickup at Scotdance Canada Championship Series 2009! Let us know in the Message to Seller box on the Checkout page if you want to pick up your order at the competition and we will refund any shipping charges. Please note, only limited custom sewing orders will be accepted at SDCCS to ensure on-time delivery!

June 30th
Last day to order for 15% off custom sewing! Use the code IHTDCAN in the Message to Seller box on the Checkout page.

July 5th
Final day to order custom sewing items until October 2009!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Heart My Dance Parent! Story and Photo Contest

With Mother's Day just passed and Father's Day around the corner, it wasn't hard for Nic and I to choose the theme for our next contest :) We think it's high time to show some appreciation for the hardworking folks who help make the dance world go 'round -- the parents!

So here's the deal! Send a short story (500 words or less, and less is really OK :) ) telling us why your dance parent means so much to you, and how they've influenced your dancing experience. Entries must be accompanied by at least one photo of you and your dance parent, but you can always send more pictures. Email your entries to:

Entries are due June 21st!
Winning entries will receive a $30 credit to the IHTD store (plus free shipping on that order) and be published on the blog and website!

Now for the rules:

1) This contest is open to both Highland and Irish dancers this time, but you must be a dancer or a former dancer and write the story yourself (little ones can get some help typing from a parent or friend, but the words must be theirs!)

2) There will be three categories divided by age, roughly a) under 10 years old, b) 11 to under 16 years old and c) 16 and over. The final divisions will be done depending on the number of entries we receive to give all entries the best chance at winning a prize, and if we get a lot of entries we will offer runner-up prizes in each category as well.

3) Your "dance parent" doesn't have to be your Mom or Dad -- it can be any person you feel supported you in that parental way for a significant part of your dance career. So Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters, Family Friends, etc are all eligible. Lucky enough to have more than one fabulous dance parent in your life? Write about them both!

4) The only person NOT eligible this time is your teacher! Why? We'll be having a special contest later in the year to honour them, so save your great teacher stories and pictures for then.

5) As always, if you win the contest we will need permission from anyone featured in the photo before publishing, so PLEASE include their email addresses with your entry.

Feel free to send us an email if you've got any questions, we're happy to help as always :)

And don't forget! Sign up for the newsletter (little green box in the right-hand column here on the blog) before May 15th to get the free shipping code!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spammers We Ain't

I hate email spam. HATE it. It clogs my inbox, and I actually resent the 5.6 seconds it takes to delete and/or unsubscribe. Plus the sneaking suspicion that as soon as I unsubscribe from Big Corporation's Annoying Email List they immediately sell my address to someone selling generic drugs. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.

So why should you subscribe to OUR newsletter?

Well, because we're not spam :) You'll hear from us only about once a month, the newsletter will be chock-full of useful information about new products, informational features, contests and upcoming sales PLUS as a thank-you for being a loyal reader we'll have regular newsletter-only specials. And if you decide it's not for you and you unsubscribe, nobody but nobody is ever getting your email from little old us.

Signing up is easy-squeezy -- there's a green box right here on the blog in the right hand column. Just fill out the required fields and press Submit and you're good to go. You will be sent a confirmation email immediately with a link for you to confirm your subscription -- you will NOT receive the newsletter until you've confirmed. As a thank-you for signing up we're offering 25% off the purchase price of one item ordered before June 30th (your confirmation email will have the code to use).

Our inaugural issue will go out May 15th! And to celebrate our brand new newsletter we are offering free shipping for a limited time to subscribers -- note that you must sign up for the newsletter before May 15th to receive the newsletter with the free shipping code!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Big Winners!

Drumroll please! We here at IHTD are very very pleased to announce the results of our first-ever Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne Photo Contest! We had loads of great entries, but we HAD to choose winners and the following photos won our hearts with their smiley faces and sweet sentiments. We just KNEW that some of the best folks around were Irish dancers, just scroll on down for the proof in pictures!

WINNER ($50 Prize) : Team Spirit!

In the photo: Kate, Darcy, Kelly and Erin, Rince na Tiarna
Photo and caption by: T. Regan

"This is what the WORLDS experience was for us -- a culmination of 10 years of friendship, love and lots of fun together!"

RUNNER-UP ($25 Prize): Some Brotherly (and Sisterly!) Love From Philly

In the photo: Patrick and Brigid
Photo and caption by: PER

"After almost thirteen years in Irish Dancing, the thrill of both children dancing at the same Worlds, the first one in the United States and more importantly, that they didn't mind posing together for a photo for their mom. Taken in the center atrium at the Kimmel Center by me on Friday, April 10 after the 19 - 20 Men's first two rounds, and after the U16 Ceili first recall round (which was at the Marriot, my daughter ran the five blocks after her team had danced in order to catch her brother's first round)."

RUNNER-UP ($25 Prize): Duct Tape Really Does Work For Everything!

In the photo: John Cuilliane and three generations of Murphy Irish Dancers. Mary Jo, Tricia and Michael (Michael is only 5 years old and really enjoyed watching the dancers!)
Photo and caption by: E. O'Connor

"The highlight of my Worlds experience in Philly was when our student, Andria C., was presented with her medal and she got to take a photo (see second photo attached below) with our friend, John Culliane. John was brilliant as Master of Ceremonies during the Ladies 18 - 19 year old competition. And with a large competition like this one, his sense of humor made the day! During this competition, a lot of head bands, glitter, beads/sequins and bobby pins were flying off of the competitors onto the stage. John came up with a great idea and made a big ball of duct tape (shown in the photo) to help him collect all of these items so that the ladies would not slip. At one point in the competition, he said that since we already have the sock glue, we will now need to invent some hair pin glue! The audience roared in laughter."

In the photo: John Cuilliane and Andria C.
Photo by: E. O'Connor

A BIG congratulations to all of our winners and thank-you to ALL of you who submitted your fabulous photos for consideration, we will definitely be doing this again next year :)

Stay tuned to the blog for future contests and your chance to win more great prizes from I Heart That! Dance!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go raibh maith agat! Or, THANK YOU!

Wow, what a week :) Worlds is over for another year, and 2009 saw over 6000 dancers attend the historic first ever time this prestigious competition was held in North America. For Nic and I here at IHTD, we were pleased to welcome over 3000 unique visitors here to the blog over the duration of the week!

So our first and biggest "thank you" goes out to fabulous journalist and dancer S.J. (three cheers, woohoo!) Her witty, thoughtful and well-written posts made us feel like we were hanging out sidestage enjoying the Worlds experience right along with her and we are going to miss reading all her observations big time! Many of you felt the same, as about half of our individual visitors returned daily to find out what she was up to (and sometimes more than once a day! Nice to know I'm not the only one with the "obsessive refresh" habit :) ). You can read her article in the Irish Times here! S.J., you're welcome back here at IHTD anytime, and if you ever make it north of the border, the Timmy's is on us ;)

Second on our list of thanks is all those who participated in the Great Worlds TweetOff 2009 -- loads of people took the plunge and signed up for Twitter to follow along with S.J., Diddlyi, "irishdance" and our favourite shutterbug Steph of RincePix among others -- thanks a million to irishdance and Steph for their tireless posting of results despite wonky commentary and occasionally misbehaving Twitter (I know I lost count of how many times I saw the wretched FAILWHALE). I personally heard from a number of dancers and dance parents -- so great to meet all of you, and I hope we can all do this again sometime soon!

And finally, thanks to all our visitors for coming by during your busy day to take a peek -- we hope you enjoyed your stay, had fun reading S.J.'s posts and maybe saw something you liked. We're dancers here ourselves, and we love hearing from you, so if you've got any comments of questions don't hesitate to drop us a line via thegirls@iheartthatdance.com.

And don't forget! If you DID make the trip to Philly this year and took loads of pics, while you're uploading them to your Facebook fire one off to our Photo Contest (deadline April 24th) and win some free stuff!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Reflection on Worlds

Above: Rince na Tiarna dancers and Dean Crouch (swoon!). 
Thanks to the RNT families for sending me these photos to post :)

It was the first day back to the real world for me. I headed into the newsroom and tried catching up on stories I'd put on hold, and I attempted explaining just how amazing Worlds were to my classmates and co-workers.

How do you do that, though?

As a retired Irish dancer, I really appreciated seeing such talent in the competitors at Worlds, and I know just how much sweat and energy they spent perfecting those bicycle jumps, leap overs and pony walks. It was truly mesmerizing to hear the clear, rhythmic trebles at lightning speed. To everyone outside of the Irish dance community, the competitors at Worlds just looked like really good dancers. But to me, and the rest of the Irish dance world, we were in awe of the raw talent and unbelievable dedication of the dancers and their teachers.

I think Dearbhla Lennon had explained Irish dance best when she told me that it is tradition. It means the same as it did to our grandparents, but we've put our own twist on it. I was honored to be part of history when our generation's "twist" was moving the competition to America. I wish my grandpa (who was a very proud Irishmen from Buffalo, NY) had seen the day when Worlds came to the states. I'm sure he'd be first in line for those pricey dance drama tickets :)

Aside from the new tricks and costumes, it was refreshing to see new faces in the vendors area, along with the tried and true vendors who've supplied our shoe buckles, sparkly earrings and bubble socks for decades. Jeanne from Head For The World showed me how the buckles of yesterday have been *blinged out* with crystals and rhinestones. Even the bubble socks are sparkly and fabulous! She even showed me the wig spray that some dancers use to mask their natural hair color and match their wigs. Yowzers. Am I that old? I feel like it was just a few summers ago that I slept uncomfortably with a record-breaking 216 foam curlers in my hair! Ugh, then washing out the tangled knot of hair after dancing all day. Does anyone else remember feeling like they'd gone nearly bald washing out those curls?

It was an exciting reminder of the evolution of the Irish dance community to see new faces in the vendors area too. I met two really sweet girls who are in the beginning stages of starting up BeMe, a company dedicated to providing individualized keepsakes for dancers. Right now, they're concentrating on selling custom Irish dance jewelry boxes. I asked them how it felt to jump into the feis vendor scene when so many of the other vendors are established, recognizable companies. The girls didn't seem to mind being the newbies on the block, and they said that some of the other vendors were extremely helpful and provided advice and friendly conversation. 

And, of course, there were the old favorites like Fay's and Rutherford shoes. Memories of my adolescent years as an Irish dancer came flooding back when I saw the stacks of CDs and boxes of Irish chocolate bars. I used to LOVE going to these vendors to scope out the newest dance practice music and grab a mint Aero Bar. For old time's sake, I purchased a CD: Dean Crouch's Top Box. Even though I stopped feisin' years back, I love hearing new twists on classic jigs, reels and hornpipes. 

Speaking of Dean, I never did get an interview with him. But I did run into some ecstatic dancers who were fortunate to snag some quality time with Dean. In fact, with their permission, I've posted photos of Rince na Tiarna (Buffalo, NY) dancers and THE Dean above.

Now, I sat through days of dancing at Worlds. Sometimes I'd sit for hours at a time without so much as wiggling my legs. I can't begin to imagine how much effort goes into providing the live music for the dancers. HUGE kudos to the musicians who not only played for hours, but played BEAUTIFULLY. They mixed up the tunes to keep things interesting, and seemed to pour their souls into every bar, making sure each dancer had music just as lovely and melodic as the dancer before. And, if I'm correct, there were two musicians at each stage. It's not every day that you get to hear some of the world's most talented musicians play for hours on end. I'm pretty sure the Drunken Gauger is permanently etched into my brain. I swear I hear it playing in my head as I try to fall asleep, and I lilt it as I walk up the steps at the office. 

Here's to hoping Worlds makes it back to North America again soon. I can't imagine another 24 years without experiencing a week like that again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday. Sunday. Sunday!

Worlds are wrapping up today, and I'm waiting to hear how the dance drama pans out. Arrived in Syracuse late last night and immediately crashed in my own bed. It was so wonderful being in my own bed, without 20 or so strangers snoring around me :) Ah, the life of a hostel hopper.

As promised yesterday, I have a few updates and some fun stories from my last few days in Philly:

1. Jean Butler rides Amtrak.
We all know how much I love JB, and how exciting it was to meet her. I told everyone, sent Facebook messages, even called my mom back home in Buffalo to tell her I'd met THE gorgeous redhead from Riverdance. 

As if there wasn't enough JB excitement in my life, I ended up sitting in the same Amtrak train car as her. I had been waiting at the train station for an hour, when I suddenly saw that distinct red ponytail out of the corner of my eye. It ended up that we were both heading to NYC's Penn Station on Amtrak. So, somewhere near Newark I got up and asked her to sign my press pass. And she remembered me! 

"You're Miss Hornpipe," she said to me.

Haha! I can't wait to tell Thomas Miner, the editor at Hornpipe that Jean Butler made a reference to the magazine. 

How's that for an amazing end to the most exciting Irish dance week ever?

2. Coca Rocha was not at Worlds. I have the inside scoop!
Also at the Amtrak station, I met a lovely mom and daughter who were heading to NYC to stay with a friend. The two are from Vancouver and were in Philly for Worlds (the daughter competed in the competition for the first time). 

I asked them about their trip to NYC, and they informed me that they would be staying with a former Irish dancer from back home, who is now living in NYC as a model. The mother then disclosed that the friend was quite recognizable, a model by the name of Coco Rocha.

Coco Rocha! Recognizable? She's the queen of fashion these days!

I'd reported earlier (via Twitter) that Coco was listed on the Worlds t-shirts as a competitor, and I wondered if this could actually be true. 


I asked the duo from Vancouver who told me Coco was nowhere near Philly, and that she was in the Big Apple with a very hectic itinerary. The daughter made a few calls to Coco, who was waiting for their arrival. 

So, why list Coco's name on a t-shirt?

She's enrolled in dance classes in NYC--that's true. 

Competing at Worlds? Fib. 

3. The Rince na Tiarna dancers reflect on cross-cultural Worlds interactions and the funny things the Irish do with their hands.
I popped by the Kimmel Center Sunday morning to squeeze in a few more interviews and wish the Rince na Tiarna dancers good luck for their team dances. The girls were hilarious and candid about the international interactions fostered at Worlds.

They admitted that they love mimicking accents, especially the Irish accent.

And they said you can tell the Irish teams from a mile away. It's all in the hands, they said.

The hands?!

According to the RNT girls, the Irish grasp hands very daintily. Whereas the American girls grab and clutch each other's hands until the feeling is lost in their fingers. They said that backstage the ceili teams harmlessly joke with each other about the stylistic differences among the teams.

The girls also squealed with excitement when I asked them whether they'd run into Dean Crouch. They certainly did. A few of the girls whipped out camera and cell phones to show me the photos of them and Dean. Too cute. I've asked the girls to email the photos to me, so I'll post them once I get them.

4. New vendors on the block?!
In a later post, I'll introduce the gals of BeMe. They make nifty custom creations, like jewelry boxes, specifically for your Irish dancer. 

I interviewed the girls earlier in the week and continued to check in with them throughout the week. More info to come, along with photos of some of the cute jewelry boxes featuring spinning Irish dancers (you know, like the spinning ballerina?).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home. Finally :]

Just got back to my apartment in Syracuse, NY. Lots of exciting things to update you on, but I must get some sleep, so I'll leave you with a few teasers:

1. Jean Butler rides Amtrak.
2. Coca Rocha was not at Worlds. I have the inside scoop!
3. The Rince na Tiarna dancers reflect on cross-cultural Worlds interactions and the funny things the Irish do with their hands.
4. New vendors on the block?!

And probably a lot more! So check back tomorrow night for some wrap-up posts, highlights from the week and more photos. In the meantime, I've uploaded a few photos courtesy of Photography By Harrington.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A close encounter with Jean Butler. And it was lovely.

I rounded out a full week in Philadelphia by interviewing my Irish dance idol, Jean Butler. 

Yes. THE Jean Butler. The original female lead dancer for Riverdance. 

It was an impromptu interview and, I must say, I crept up on her like a cat. I swore I'd seen her watching the senior men competition, but couldn't tell if it was really her. I figured it's Worlds--there are hundreds of gorgeous, thin, tall redheads running around the venue. I got a much clearer look at her when she left the senior ladies competition. And that's when the Jean creepin' really began :)

She was sitting outside the Verizon room with another woman. Jean had gone up to get herself a coffee/tea in the snack line and made her way back to the table. I calmly approached just as she was getting up to grab another packet of sugar. The awkward conversation starter went something like this:

SJ: Excuse me. You're Jean Butler?
JB: Yes, I am.
SJ: Could I ask you a few questions. I'm covering Worlds for Hornpipe Magazine and a few other publications.
JB: (laughs a little) Sure!

She was extremely gracious, considering I totally cut her off while the poor woman was trying to get a packet of sugar. She answered every question thoroughly and honestly, and very clearly. As a journalist, I REALLY appreciated her concise and insightful speech. For such a short interaction (3 minutes max), she gave me lots of good quotes. And she smiles when she talks. It always makes my job easier when I feel like I'm not a total bother. 

So, journalistically, I was proud to have stolen a few minutes of Jean's time and managed to get quality quotes (you'll have to read Hornpipe Magazine for that info later!). But I was personally so jazzed to have spoken with THE Jean Butler. This woman is the epitome of an elegant dancer. 

Jean, I learned to love the slip jig because of you!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happening around town...

Irish dancers have taken over The City of Brotherly Love.

My hostel is a hearty 20-minute walk from the Kimmel Center, but I seem to run into dancers everywhere around here. Just got out of the shower and was asked by a young woman in the bunk across from mine if I was an Irish dancer. It happens that she saw my program on my bed while I was in the shower. She's a newly-minted TCRG who's here for the dinner this weekend, and she's checking out some of the dancers from her old school back in Canada. Seems like an impressive woman. If I'm correct, she's studying astronomy at Harvard, at the graduate level. Smart cookie and an Irish dancer? Recipe for success. 

Also, for any Macy's shoppers who love the seasonal window displays, you'll be elated to know that Macy's has dedicated a window to the Worlds! The window is sponsored by Siopa Rince, and it showcases two dresses. I'd heard that they're changing the dresses every so often, but I've only seen the two in the photo above the last two days.

Michael Flatley made his slated appearance this afternoon/evening. I'd been waiting for days to get a confirmation on time and location for his press conference. The CLRG folks were helpful, but my understanding is that a second party actually coordinated Flatley's appearance, and they were responsibility of notifying the press. Unfortunate for them, they did not notify ME. So I can't speak too much to Flatley's message or appearance in general :(

And it looks like the only people exempt from the "no video recording whilst dance in progress" rule are the folks over at Philly's NBC affiliate. They have a video here that shows some dancing and an interview with Seamus O'Se who is coordinating press coverage for CLRG at Worlds.

Try Something New, We Dare You :)

Getting a new outfit or solo dress? (eep!) Or just looking to update your competition look for 2009? Or maybe, like us, you just got sick of makeup that disappears before your last round, looks fake and cakey, or destroys your sensitive skin. Well, we've got a suggestion for you: Mineral Makeup!

Handmade by 7 Minerals, our all-natural foundations, blushes, bronzers and eyeshadows contain no harsh chemicals or preservatives, making it very gentle on your skin, even when you wear it weekend after weekend. Best of all, it STAYS PUT and looks natural on stage. Oh, and did I mention yet that we offer 140+ colours of eyeshadow? Click here and here for the colour charts!

Here's what our testers are saying:

"This makeup stays on very well. It feels light and smooth. It was easier to put on than my regular feis makeup. I thought I looked good with the full face for dancing..... I loved the [eyeshadow] colors for my solo! I really loved this makeup for dancing. It is very showy and great."

"I used just the blush on her ( she is 8) and thought it was perfect. The color was very light and closely matched her own natural coloring. It blended well so I did not feel she was overdone. I have used Bare Minerals "hint" on her before and liked this color better. The color seemed to stay on even when she "glistened" LOL!"

"This makeup does not smudge or run like the old liquid and cream foundations from my past. If I blot sweat off my brow I don't take half my makeup with it! It also looks more natural in most lighting making it perfect for the younger dancers who don't want to look "made up"..... I like being able to deepen the colors easily or wear them super sheer."

Wanna give it a shot? Now's a great time since for the month of April we're offering the following special: Buy $30 (Canadian) worth of mineral makeup and get the lined Zippy! makeup pouch FREE! An example is shown above (pink with purple heart) but YOU CHOOSE the applique design and colours. And yes, this does include our always-available Deluxe Sample Jars $4.50 each or 3 for $12 (Canadian)!

Ordering is easy! Visit the website and make your choices from the selection in Mineral Makeup. Check out the Zippy! Lined Makeup Pouch page under Accessories to see the available choices for colours and applique, and just include your choice in the "Special Instructions To Seller" box on your checkout page. We'll confirm via email before sending anything.

This offer is good until April 30th!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down.

This is not true for Irish dancers on the Verizon stage.

Seemed like the dancers engaging in lively leaps and terrific trebles all fell victim to a slip, a wipe out, a falter--whatever you want to say. The reality is, the dancers were all over the floor today. It hurt me to watch them hurt themselves.

At one point, the announcer warned the side-stage girls to scrape the bottoms of their shoes on cement before hitting the stage. Still, dancers seemed to do exactly that. HIT the stage. And man, did some of them hit that stage hard. The announcer hypothesized that dancers who'd previously practiced on carpet (the whole venue is practically carpeted) were polishing the bottom of their hard shoes, causing the dancers to lose the friction necessary to stay on their feet while dancing.

My non-ID friend Cindia, who follows me on Twitter, said that it sounded like I was reporting from a wrestling match.

It really did get to the point where someone slipped, fell, slid, flopped or rolled an ankle every time a new set of dancers came on stage. I thought that maybe the floors were getting scuffed up and warn, possibly causing the stage to be slippery.

Who knows what was really happening? It was bad though. Whenever a dancer fell to the floor, the adjudicators would ding a bell and the dancers were called off (or assisted off, if seriously injured) stage. They'd then have to repeat the step later. It seemed like dancers were re-dancing steps all the time.

I hope everyone is OK after such a tumultuous day on the Verizon stage.

On my way home I saw a sign (above) that pretty much sums up my advice for those dancers who haven't yet graced the Verizon stage. Be weary. The Verizon stage just might be laced with booby traps!

CAUTION! Watch your step
... else you'll be re-dancing. And that will probably tick off the dancer next to you who simply killed (in a good way) that performance the first time 'round.

Links from today!
FeisResults.com: Girls 15-16
FeisResults.com: Boys 15-16
FeisResults.com: Ladies 16-17
FeisResults.com: Mens 16-17
FeisResults.com: Minor Girls Ceili
FeisResults.com: Minor Girls Figure
Unfortunately Milton Baar has had his press pass withdrawn, but you can still see some photos from today here.

Boys can rock fur and feathers too

The boys borrowed the mummers' wacky colonial pirate hats?!

opening ceremony clip

This is a clip of the opening ceremony with the Philadelphia Mummers and a few Irish dancers that join them on stage. As it was explained, the mummers had to march through the town playing loud celebratory music before it could officially be declared New Year's Day.

Notice their costumes are a lot worse than ours ;)

Brushes with ID elite!

Sorry for not getting a post up yesterday. I'll put up a couple today to keep everyone up to speed with what's happening here in Philadelphia.

Besides being glued to my seat for most of the day watching girls u15 and u14, I did conduct a few fascinating interviews with Irish dance elite! First I met up with CLRG chairperson Sean McDonagh to find out a bit about how the worlds came to be in the states.

He explained that a bunch of cities were suggested and that a small CLRG committee was charged with making the final decision based on a number of factors (venues, hotels, cost, etc.). Boston and Philadelphia were top choices for an American venue, but Philly eventually won the showdown, particularly because the Mid-Atlantic region has hosted the Oireachtas here for a number of years, and they city has always managed to accommodate the number of dancers.

Mr. McDonagh and I also talked about the changed face of Irish dance, and how schools are popping up around the world, as far as Tokyo and and Ukraine.

What surprised me was the fact that 60% of Irish dancers come from North America. And, at this year's worlds in particular, 75% of competitors are North American. Wild, right? I just submitted a story for The Irish Times that is scheduled to be printed this weekend that further discusses the significance of this trend in the US.

After that, I spoke to some vendors about the economy's role in buying feis gear. Once that story's done, I'll submit it to Hornpipe Magazine. More on that later :)

Then I met up with the two female Australian world champions, Fiona-Gaye Moore (won in 1980) and Nicole Zepcevski (2006). We talked a lot about Irish dancing in Australia, and the difficulty of traveling to worlds from Australia. Regardless of whether the worlds happen in North America or Europe, these Aussies have to sink a lot of money into traveling for big competitions.

Later I interviewed Dearbhla Lennon of Dundalk, County Louth. That woman is beautiful! And she's a fellow journalist ;) I'd never met a lead dancer from Riverdance AND Lord of the Dance.

It was extremely exciting meeting with such talented and important people. Rumor is Michael Flatley will also be making an appearance. Possibly tomorrow. I'll see if I can't manage to run into him as well :)

Links from Tuesday!
FeisResults.com: Girls 13-14
FeisResults.com: Boys 13-14
FeisResults.com: Girls 14-15
FeisResults.com: Boys 14-15
FeisResults.com: Minor Mixed Ceili
Yet more great pics from Swoose.net including...
....Ally's favourite dress so far, second from left (three guesses why, LOL)