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.