Last week, Miss P and her dance school from Sheeaun Academy competed at the New England Regional Oireachtas. This is an Irish Dancing Competition in which over a thousand dancers compete in solo competitions, traditional sets and team dancing. Last year, Miss P was invited to compete and it was such an honor for her. Seeing all the beautiful dancers set a goal in her mind that she was determined to meet. A goal that would have to wait for a year, but it was something she thought about for 365 days. Every day for that full year. Her goal was to return the following year and compete in the solo round.
Her first “O” in 2011, she competed in a traditional set dancing and danced to St Patrick’s Day. She was only two spots away from a recall. A recall is when half of the competitors are called back and will place for an award. She was devastated at first. She also danced a four hand that year as well. When she competed at feis, she always placed, so it triggered something in her mind that made her alter how she practiced for the rest of the year.
This year she convinced her teachers that she was ready to go to the “O” again and compete in the solo round. I was very hesitant because the pressure is very high. For this she would dance a jig and a reel. If she received a call back, she would dance the St Patrick’s Day. Getting a call back was the goal, because it meant she placed and would get an award. For this round, there were 32 competitors so only half would move on. She would compete against dancers who also competed in the Nationals and Worlds. Tough competition, but she was absolutely ready.
She got a call back! Waiting in the ballroom to hear her number was like time standing still. When they announced 126, she squeezed my hand and screamed, “I did it Mom! I did it!” I was proud of her either way, but the absolute joy that beamed from her face will be a memory that will last my lifetime.
For awards, sitting in the ballroom waiting for her competition to be called to go on stage and hear her placement, Miss P looked at me and said, “Mom, is this real?” I literally choked back tears, and told her this was not a dream. This was the real deal. When she climbed those stairs, I looked at her. Joy and pride literally leaped from her face. As a parent now, my joy does not come from my own actions, it is entirely from my children and the joy and pride they feel about themselves. When they announced a number, and it wasn’t her’s, she literally jumped and beamed. 16th place, 15th place and so on. She was 8th place, amazing and beautiful. She received a crystal award and that moment in time will be one of my most cherished.
She also danced a 4 hand and two 8 hand team dances. Her 4 hand was also recalled!
My daughter is one determined little girl. She was tireless in her practice. Her talent is everything to her. I told her teachers, Moira, Frank, Kathleen and Michelle that they have this amazing gift that they hold for each of their dancers. They provide the tools for these kids to feel like they are special, that their talent sets them apart and makes them different in a positive way. I can assure you that Miss P will remember these moments and talk about them to her children and grandchildren decades from now.
Children need something to strive for. Children need an outlet to express themselves in a safe and meaningful way. Whatever hobby or sport that they love, will provide countless opportunities for them to believe in their abilities and to strive again if they fail and to be both humble and excited for their successes and accolades. For Miss P, her dance teachers have given her that. But just as important is how she feels for her teammates. Her pride for them as they competed was so apparent. They are a family.