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In Depth

Beating the Summer Irish Dance Doldrums

It’s the middle of August and summer is slowly winding down. Where I am, a lot of schools have already gone back! I know it’s hard to admit, but the summer is almost over.

August is always a bit of a slow month and it’s no different in the Irish dance world. The North American and British Nationals were last month and most schools don’t start classes again until September. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a school that runs workshops in August, August can lag and make you just itch to get back to class.

Never fear, Feisonista is here! I’m a great believer in using your downtime to get ahead. Everyone works hard before a big competition – it’s what you do when you’re not expected to be working that can really make a difference. Here are some ideas to get your head back in the game so that you can hit the ground running come September!

1. Practice. If you haven’t thought about your reel since you ran out of school back in June, you probably want to practice. It doesn’t have to be a lot or full out, but make sure you go through your steps. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve forgotten all your steps on the first day of class. Trust me, I’ve been there…

2. Strengthen. If you don’t have access to a practice area, strengthening is the next best thing you can do! Do some pilates to work on your core, some lunges and leg work, and make sure to stretch! Check out this section of dance.net for some ideas on excersizes that you can do. Strength is the key to making your dancing sharp and nailing tricks! And, it’s something you can easily work on during the summer.

3. Catch up on the competition. A key part of improving your dancing is watching what other dancers do and seeing what works. The more exposure you have to top level dancing, the more you’ll improve if you really study and take in their dancing. Luckily, it’s easier now than ever to see top dancers – right from your living room! It’s a lot cheaper than flying to Ireland! Check out some recent parade of champion videos from this summer. Don’t just watch the videos. Analyze the videos and dissect them to see what they’re doing and incorporate it into your own dancing. A straighter leg on a jump, more movement, looser ankles. Figure out what they’re doing better than you and strive to do it that way when you go back to class! Pay attention to new tricks as well! Chances are that you’ll be doing them in your steps before long. Here’s one to get you started!

4. Visualize yourself on stage. It’s never too early to start thinking about the Oireachtas or even your next big feis. Visualize yourself on stage dancing a perfect dance. What would you look like? What is perfect for you? Own your style of dancing and perfect it. Are you a elegant and graceful dancer or a dynamic racehorse? Or something in between? One of my favorite phrases is “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Live that in your dancing and when you visualize yourself dancing, visualize your version of perfection. Now that you’ve seen what the champions look like and you’ve seen what you want yourself to look like, go out and achieve it. Be ready to come in to dance class striving for that image of your dancing.

5. Plan your dream dress. While you were visualizing yourself on stage, what were you wearing? Since you have some time now, sit down and plan what you want to look like on stage from a style perspective! The same thing is true here about owning your style. Make sure your outfit reflects who you are. Check out the latest trends here to see if you can incorporate any of those into your style! If you can’t afford a new outfit, there are little things you can do to update your look. Check out the rhinestone tiaras or try a new make up look. Now is the time to play with your style so that you can hone it and work out any of the kinks. By the time November rolls around, you’ll be too stressed worrying about getting that elusive front click in your third step to be worrying if your make up is right. A little preparation now can make all the difference!

6. Make your own dance journal. Irish Central posted a great blog post on making your own dance journal! I love journaling – it’s a great way to chart your progress and keep your focus on your development. A journal that you made yourself is that little bit extra! It will really motivate you to start using it to track your achievements and what you could use a little more work on. And if you do it now, it will be all ready to go when dance classes start again!

7. Plan new dance practice outfits. One of the highlights of going back to school for me was always back to school shopping. New clothes and outfits give you an added confidence when you stride those halls for the first time! Picking out new dance practice outfits can do the same thing for your dancing! It will also probably make your more excited about practicing when you get to wear cute new outfits. There’s nothing like a new pair of poodle socks to get you into the mood to work.

8. Redecorate your trophy cabinet or medals. Need some more inspiration? Look at your past achievements. Even if you don’t think you’ve achieved a lot, look at those medals again. You earned them! It may be a third in a beginner light jig but you danced hard and earned that medal. Remember the feeling you had when you won your most prized trophies or medals. Embrace that feeling and strive to recreate it. Rearrange your trophies and medals to make them seem new again! Remember to leave room for new ones! Check out this post for some trophy cabinet inspiration.

9. Add some element of Irish dance to your everyday life – stylishly. Getting yourself in dance spirit can be as simple adding a little bit of dance to your everyday life. We all drum while waiting for a bus or hand dance during work, but add a little element of Irish dance to your wardrobe! Wear a sparkly flower in your hair. Or a Celtic inspired bracelet or necklace.  For a real challenge, wear one of your dance t-shirts in a stylish way. Check out this outfit for some inspiration:

dance outfit
dance outfit by feisonista featuring flare jeans

10. Listen to awesome Irish music. Great music makes you want to jump up and dance. Check out the new Beoga CD for some inspiration. Another amazing CD from them!

11. Take some dance pictures. Summer is the best time of year to take dance pictures! I think every Irish dancer has taken a “leap on the beach” picture. Make sure you get yours in before the summer’s over. Do a leap in front of a landmark in your town! Or some cool pictures of you in toestands. They’re fun to do and create great memories.

Leap at a beach!

Or at a town landmark! Or an international landmark for that matter...

12. If all else fails, watch the Jig trailer on repeat. Again, and again, and again. Aye I can, watch me!

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