- This is a competition and please respect the dancers. They have worked for hours and hours all year long for this moment and everyone has a pre-competition “zone” they’d like to keep. It’s best to give them some space before they compete - you can save your questions about how it all works for their parents or catch up with the dancers after they’ve finished competing for the day.
- Expect a lot of waiting. It’s the nature of things and all of us on the inside have grown to accept this. Don’t ask for exact start times, end times, or precise times for when your favorite dancer will be on stage. Go with the flow and don’t stress about timings.
- Irish dance is an artistic sport and the costuming is part of the performance. Let me say that again - the get up is a COSTUME. Just like going to see the Nutcracker or attending a gymnastics meet, the stage is a place where costuming is part of the performance. You can expect to see elaborate dresses that may or may not be to your personal taste, stage make up that may look ridiculous up close, and hair that goes up to heaven. As part of respecting the sport and your favorite dancer, keep your personal opinions to yourself. It’s a costume and at the end of the day, all the competitors will be back in sweatpants, bare faces, and natural hair with no harm done.
- Celebrate your favorite dancer, no matter the outcome. It’s a competition and not everyone wins a medal. That does not undermine that dancer’s work ethic, talent, or potential in the sport so celebrate everything they’ve achieved and accomplished just by reaching this competition.
- If you’re looking to see more “traditional” dancing, head over to the Marriott hotel on Friday or Saturday and check out the traditional set competition. This is choreography that has been passed down through generations. It’s easier for spectators to understand as you’ll see dancers competing more or less the same choreography with mastery of technique easier to see from the naked eye. You can also come into the convention center on Sunday where team dancing will be happening all day. In the team dances, known as ceili dances, lines, execution, and teamwork are king as dancers work together to show shapes, lines, and patterns from these preserved dances dating back to the late 1800s.
- If you’re open minded and want to see the cream of the crop, Friday and Saturday at the convention center is where it’s at. Expect to see high flying, floor pounding, and jaw dropping talent in the championship sections. These dancers are trying to step their way to Nationals or World Championships and you’ll see dancing at it’s highest levels. The costumes here are very flamboyant but remember - it’s part of the spectacle - and you may have a harder time discerning the quality of one dancer from the other.
If you’re new to Irish dance checking out the Oireachtas, it can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that this is the top percentage of dancers in our region and it takes time and hard work to reach this point. At SRL, dancers are not required to compete so if this is too much you’ll never have to step foot into this little world again - you can enjoy performing and learning in class without stepping foot into the competition world.