Little Rock: Good and Bad.
It was a good feis because it was a totally different group of people to compete against (we've seen a lot of a certain Chicago girl, for instance, the past year or so, and all the St. Louis girls).
It was a bad feis because the hotel, any hotel, was not connected to the actual venue. If it had been, we would have stayed at that hotel--I love just walking downstairs with Sophia dressed and not worrying about weather or whatnot. But in Little Rock it was at a convention center, and we were not going to stay in the way-overpriced hotel connected to their convention center (the feis didn't recommend it, even--suggesting one across the river and a shuttle away). So we stayed at the Hampton about 4 blocks thisaway, and 3 blocks thataway, to quote the desk clerk.
It was a good feis because everything happens in one room. I like that.
It was a bad feis because they had a 1/3 of the chairs they needed. We camped in the hallway, which actually made the day go faster because we weren't watching every. single. dancer.
It was a good feis because they reported results deep--some dances to 7th place, even.
It was a bad feis because they weren't consistent about their reporting. Sophia was in one that didn't post past 3rd place, for instance. Umm. And there were 12 girls, they really could have told us who was 4th.
It was a good feis because, well, here are some other things that made me kinda crazy:
She didn't place in her reel, and she kept up a brave face but I knew she really wanted to. There were 16 girls and they posted to 5th and that was that. She was disappointed but told me she was ok. Then she had her novice light jig (novice is further along than advanced beginner, go figure, they sound like synonyms to me). We knew she wouldn't place and she didn't. And neither with slip jig, which is her weakest dance.
But single jig, from where I stood, I thought she at least came in the top four or so. Really. She likes that dance and you can tell. But no. That's the one they only reported to 3rd. She checked the wall and said not a single word to me afterward. It was looking like a bad day. She danced her treble jig and then, standing on stage to dance her hornpipe, they called for a lunch break.
I had a hard time with this. Which is the polite way of saying I threw a mini-fit. We were given a half hour. And this area of Little Rock had no real options. On the schedule, lunch was supposed to happen after Sophia's last dance, so I hadn't even packed anything. We were trapped. We wound up at a diner across the street for an ice cream cone. But it calmed everyone down and we went back to the feis just in time for them to call dancers back to the stage. Ugh.
She danced hornpipe and then almost immediately danced St. Patrick's Day for the first time. She looked ok with the hornpipe but there were 12 girls and I was like, yeah, well, this day has been way too long. And they hadn't even posted results for the treble jig yet. So aggravated.
We sat in the hall and waited. I worked on some Sunbonnet Sues. Sophia, out of the wig and dress, was fine and chatty. Oh! I forgot to mention. As I went to tell her that she was up for St. Patrick's Day and had to go back to the stage, I told her I thought it was the best slip jig she'd done at a feis so far and that I was happy with how she did and especially how she handled herself (SO MANY girls in tears and yelling at parents and all those emotional moments). She smiled and said, "I really hope I don't get third. I mean, I know I'll go home with a medal, but I really hope it isn't third. You know?"
Yes, I knew.
I told her to do her best. She was nervous about the rolls (I think that's what they are) and she asked when the next feis would be. I said ours, in July, or we could try Memphis. I was thinking, yeah right I'll never get her to another out of town feis. But she cocked her head to the side and asked how far away Memphis was. I explained how it would work with my mother-in-law's house involved.
"Let's go to Memphis, then," she decided. That girl. It's totally different to be Sophia than to be, I think, anyone else on earth. If I'd been a 3rd grader competing in a solo competition and had my hopes up and had them dashed, I'd be, well, I'd probably be one of the girls in tears swearing she'd never come back.
When she danced St. Patrick's Day, the first girls danced in a pair and then she was alone. As the two danced, Mary Helen asked me what I thought. I don't know anything anymore, but I told her I was afraid Sophia would take third.
"Even against that other girl in blue?"
"I think she'd have to really screw up. Bend an elbow or something."
And then, not the girl in blue, but the other girl, just stopped. Ten seconds before the girl in blue stopped. Before the tune was complete--and like I've said before, this is a traditional set with no room for improvisation, and certainly not just ending early.
"Like that," I said quietly. We both knew Sophia would do better than that. She got up and rocked that baby out. Sophia may not be the best technical dancer, but when she's up there, the joy just exudes from her. And she looks like she just came in from a day of shepherding on the Aran Islands, which helps at shows at least. Dang.
So anyway we were out sitting around talking about quilting when she got up to see if there were any results. She came back out and was all smiles. Second, I thought. Whew. At least we won't go home totally mystified by the judges here.
"I got first in St. Patrick's Day!" she announced.
We were all obviously thrilled. Except for Maeve, who had no idea what was going on because she'd made new friends over on this set of carpeted steps and was chatting them up about who knows what? Other siblings and a few older dancers waiting for championships to start. Funny Maeve.
So we started gathering things up to go get the medal and head out, when Sophia ran back out. She'd taken 5th in hornpipe as well. It's only the second time she's danced hornpipe at a feis. She was so danged happy.
So we went in and she got the medal for 1st and then they gave her a medal for 5th, not a ribbon. That was nice. Another good thing about the feis. We walked out with a 4 hour drive ahead of us but at least it wouldn't be a disappointed drive home.
I love her so much. In such a different way than I love Leo or Maeve. She astounds me all the time.
But in the van, almost to I-55, Maeve piped up with a whine: "Sophia won't let me see her medals!"
"I don't want her fingerprints on them!" Sophia yelled from the back seat of my mother-in-law's van.
So she's not an angel if that's what you're concerned about. Later she asked to see the Sunbonnet Sue I was working on and I handed it to her: "Note that I'm letting you put your hands on something important that belongs to me."
She rolled her eyes. "Maeve can see my medals."
Back to the critique of the feis: I don't know if we'll return. It was a good experience but further from my in-laws house than I thought it would be. I don't know. I'm also anxious to read how she did in the reel and what in the world made her not place (seriously, she did a good job). Mystery.
But we have Memphis next month, and then An Samhra in July. And I think it'll go just fine.