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. 

FALSE.

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

video

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)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Get Yerself A Little Something Nice


With the World Championships of Irish Dance happening right now in Philly, and with championship season in full swing for the Highland dancers, it occurred to us that there is probably a lot of achy, tired dancers out there!


So, we're having a special :) Order yourself (or your favourite dancer) a pair of our super-soft PJ pants ($25 Canadian, your choice of applique) and our unbelievably comfy ghillie slippers ($30 Canadian) and get three of our deluxe sample size bath & body products FREE (your choice!). These are BIG samples and last a long time -- a great way to try out our all-natural boutique products before you buy the full sizes.


Plus, just for those ouchy feet, we've got a brand NEW product -- Overnight Foot Repair! Lighter than other overnight foot creams but just as nourishing, with invigorating peppermint essential oil, this product is a great way to soothe and refresh your feet. And if you go for our special we'll send you a FREE sample of this product as well -- enough for three treatments, you don't need much!

Ordering is easy! Visit the website and get your PJ Pants and Ghillie Slippers under Knitwear and Clothing. Check out the Mix n' Match Minis page under Bath & Body to see the available choices for the samples, and just include your choices 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!

Thanks for looking and BIG good luck to all dancers for a successful championship season!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Spill

Today was the day I finally got to see Fiona Dargan dance at Worlds. And possibly see her take the top spot on the podium for a second year. But it didn't work out that way this year, and it's really a bummer.

I was a Rince na Tiarna dancer growing up. Once I got to high school, I started helping out with the beginner classes--showing the kids how to point, skip in circles count the music, etc. Fiona was one of the little ones in the beginner group. She and her sister progressed so quickly. The kids just have natural talent and they legitimately love practicing. They have a blast in class.

So I made sure to be in the Verizon auditorium to see Fiona dance. When I ran into her the day before, I'd told her that I'd make it a point to cheer on RNT. I missed her hard shoe round, but caught her just as she was beginning the slip jig. I was totally in awe of her skills and charisma on stage. Those leaps looked effortless.

But she took a sudden spill and crashed to the floor, immediately clutching her ankle. I saw Mary Kay (Rince na Tiarna TCRG, ADCRG) a little bit later, and she told me that Fi was hurt pretty badly (Achilles tendon, I think?) and that she didn't want her to risk injuring herself more by dancing if she recalled. Fi recalled, but ended up having to withdraw from the set round.

I wish I could have seen her win the title (again). She's one of those kids that is truly inspirational, and I think she's the perfect example of an Irish dancer. She loves dancing. She's the sweetest kid around. She supports and encourages the dancers around her and is extremely modest.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day One: reflection

Back at my homey hostel in Olde City part of Philadelphia, thinking about how much I enjoyed the day.

I had some preconceived ideas about Worlds, and just heavy competition in general. I read some pretty nasty, sharp-tongued comments on the Voy boards, so I prepared myself for catty moms and prissy children.

Wrong.

The families were genuinely so nice, extremely considerate and warm toward each other and me. I talked with lovely family from Australia that was elated to have the Worlds in the US. They explained the popularity of Irish dance in Australia and New Zealand and posed the question, "Are we next?"

Seems like anything's a possibility now that the Worlds have expanded beyond Europe. Representatives from CLRG and the Philadelphia's mayor addressed this theme--that anything is possible, and that you shouldn't rule anything out. So what do you say, CLRG. We going down under any time soon?

The atmosphere felt soft and fuzzy for most of the day, especially the opening ceremonies. Dancers marched on the stage carrying flags representative of every country with a CLRG-registered school. The audience roared for even the most obscure countries. Flags for Ireland, USA and Canada came to the front of the stage, and the national anthems for those three countries were sang.

Then, my favorite part! The Philadelphia Mummers. Don't know much about them, but it was explained that a group of colorfully-clad men parade down the street on new year's day. Their outfits are a mix of clown apparel, pirate costumes and colonial gear. It's hard to explain, so I'll post a video tomorrow. Anyway, they performed a high-spirited series of songs. The lively conductor/band leader managed to lure Irish dancers onto the stage to join the performance, which ended in a conga line of color. Boys and girls danced and jumped to the music played by the mummers' band. I'm serious, it's really difficult to explain. I hope the video gives you a better idea of what I'm trying to say.

Another big day tomorrow. Can't wait to see the olders girls dance. Hope you're enjoying my tweets on Twitter!



Day One

The first day of Worlds has been thrilling. Particularly the costumes.

Is it just me or does feis hair get bigger and bigger? As soon as I entered the Kimmel Center, I was overwhelmed by all the curls, and the not-so-natural bleach blonde hues that so many of the girls were workin'. 

Then the sparkles blinded me. Eye makeup was so extremely sparkly. I want to say it looked like beauty pageant makeup, but it really didn't. It's more like theater makeup. Applied very generously to the eye lids and lips. 

Now, I'm somewhat accustomed to seeing Irish dancers with orange legs and ridiculous hair, but Philly locals are a lot less understanding. I overheard a Starbucks employee trying to explain to one of her regulars that the Irish dance championships were in town, thus the costumes, hair and crazy face paint parading through the coffee shop. The regular didn't understand at all. You could tell he was trying to connect these wild getups with Irish step dancing, but the connection just wasn't happening. So that's what the rest of the real world thinks when we're dropping serious cash on gigantic, gaudy rhinestone earrings and bottles--by the dozen!--of sock glue.

I watched under 11 girls with Kevinah and Fiona Dargans, RnT friends from back home in Buffalo. Waiting for the recalls at 3 p.m. Younger boys recalls were just announced not too long ago. Gotta get the scoop on who's coming back for round 2 sets!

Results for the day begin at 5 p.m. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (sjvelasquez) for results updates in real time!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Will Smith got jiggy with it in Philly. And so will I.

Just made it to Philadelphia and settled in the hostel where I'm staying for the week. It seems like a nice place, and the other travelers are from around the world. Seeing as I'm here for Worlds, it seems appropriate that the theme of this week is international.

Had my first Irish dancer sighting at the 30th Street train station. Cute mom and daughter duo from Ireland. They're not dancing--decided to head over to the states to cheer on friends from their dance team back home and maybe sell a few out-grown solo dresses. I asked them how they feel about having Worlds a world away. Mom replied that it seems fair to bring the competition over here, considering Irish dance's popularity continues to snowball here in the states. Besides, she said, it's expensive for Americans to travel to Europe annually for the competition. 

Tomorrow is day one of the anticipated competition. I had the chance to visit the Johnston dancers of Syracuse, NY a few days ago. Four of their girls have been practicing like crazy. Check out the video on the web site for The Syracuse Post-Standard. I wrote a story that will run in tomorrow's paper. I'll link to that when it goes live online.

As a total Worlds newbie, I've been studying the schedule and desperately trying to figure how to catch all my favorite dancers. As a Syracuse reporter, I'm obviously following the dancers from that area. But, I'm a retired Rince na Tiarna dancer (of Buffalo, NY), so I'm really excited to see the girls from RNT. 

And, of course, there's OPERATION: Dean.

That's right. It's a personal--I guess professional, too--goal to find Dean Crouch and get an interview with him. What a fascinating and talented guy. 

Anyway, I better get prepped for tomorrow. For regular updates between blog posts, follow me on Twitter (sjvelasquez).

SJV



Thursday, April 2, 2009

PHOTO CONTEST!


So, we know this is a little last minute, but we are just getting so excited about the upcoming World Irish Dancing Championships we've decided to have a little contest.... A photo contest!

We want you to show us the single picture that defines your World's "experience". When you think back to Philly in 2009, what will you remember? What is that one image that captures what World's means to you?

When you've got it, send it in with a title and a short caption describing what it's all about to

ihtdcontests@gmail.com


Please include your name and a working email address in your submission, as well as the names and email addresses of any people other than you in the photo as we will have to contact them for permission if the photo is chosen as a winner. We will only post the first initial and last name of the person who submitted the photo if it is chosen, and we can omit even that if you would prefer!

Photo entries are due APRIL 24th, and winning photos will be posted the following week here on the IHTD blog! Winners will be notified by email also, so make sure your address works :)

But what do you win?? We'll award one grand prize of a $50 (Canadian) gift certificate to spend on the IHTD website, plus free shipping for that order anywhere in the world. We'll also award at least two "runner-up" prizes of $25 (Canadian), and probably more if we get a lot of entries. If we get no entries, we will buy $50 worth of ice cream and cry ourselves to sleep wondering why nobody loves us -- no pressure to enter though LOL.


Now for the rules:

1) You don't have to be competing to enter the contest -- dance parents, siblings, teachers and spectators are all welcome to contribute! Professionally taken photos are NOT eligible (if you're just really really good with a camera, that's OK :) ).

2) Your picture doesn't need to include dancers, but it must have something about it that clearly indicates it was taken at Worlds 2009 (no photos from last year's dance school Christmas party please ;) )

3) If your photo does include people other than you as subjects, make sure to include their names and email addresses in your submission email. If your photo is chosen, we need to get permission from anyone in your photo (or their parents/guardians if they are under 18) before posting it to the blog.

4) We abide by the CLRG regulation about photos taken of dancers on stage during competition and therefore will NOT accept any photos of this type. If the photo was taken "whilst in motion" but you are practicing backstage or otherwise not competing when the photo was taken, that's fine.

Feel free to send us an email if you've got any questions, we're happy to help! And we can't wait to see your pictures :) Don't make us go buy that ice cream!