BEGINNERS/GRADE LEVEL PAGE
Every Champion was once a Beginner!!
This page contains a list of some frequently asked questions about the McBride School and Irish Dance in general.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not run right out to the store or purchase anything until you and your dancer has truly decided that he or she really wants to stick with Irish Dancing. In most other types of dance classes, advance purchases are required before even stepping foot in class. However, we feel that giving classes a try for at last one month will be enough time to make that decision. Once you do, please talk with us about what dance supplies you will need. It may be that we have used and new shoes, or other items, available through the school. If you have any other specific questions, please contact us.
The McBride School's Goals for their Dancers:
1. To Have Fun!
2. Make Friends!
3. Enjoy Dancing!
4. Build Confidence!
5. Learn Teamwork!
6. To Work Hard!
What Does T.C.R.G. Mean? TCRG is an abbreviation for the Irish title that bascially means Teacher registered with An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha (C.L.R.G). The teacher has passed a series of examinations on music, dancing and teaching competence.
Why Should I care if an Irish Dancing School has a T.C.R.G.? Registered, qualified teachers offer their students a guaranteed level of instruction and dance competence. Also, only students of qualified, registered teachers are eligible to compete in Local, Regional and National Feisanna sanctioned by the N.A.F.C. (North American Feis Commission) and the C.L.R.G.
At what age can a child begin dancing lessons at the McBride School?
We recommend that your child be at least 4.5 years of age to attend classes. We find that when a child is ready for Kindergarten, they are ready for Irish Dancing.
When is Tuition Due?
Tuition is due on the first class of each month. For example, if you attend on Monday, then tuition is due on the first monday class of each month. Please make all tuition checks payable to "McBride Irish Dancers."
What is the dress code for dance class?
All dancers should wear shorts, and a t-shirt, white socks (poodle socks for girls) and ghillies/boys reel shoes and hard shoes. No jeans please. Hair should be pulled back off the face.
Do the classes run all year?
Classes typically run year round, with several planned breaks for Holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, or major competitions, such as Worlds, Nationals and the Western Region Oireachtas.
Are there any rules about class I need to know?
There are several things to keep in mind when sending your child to dance class:
1. Please send your child to class with ample water/sports drink.
2. Please do not send food to class with your child.
3. Have your child prepared on time. Parents should tie ghillies for the little ones before the start of class.
4. Please refrain from interrupting class. If you have questions for the teacher, please ask between classes, or via email/phone.
5. Please review the Class Guidelines.
Where can I purchase dance shoes and supplies?
Irish dance supplies may be purchased in a variety of locations, and online. Please see the resource page for links and additional information. You can also try on and purchase shoes second hand within the classes or online. If you are not sure what and from who to buy Irish Dance shoes and accessories, please ask us. We are here to help you.
The McBride School is registered with and accredited by, An Coimisuin le Rince Gaelacha (the Irish Dance Commission) (also know as the "C.L.R.G."). Both Ann McBride and Eileen McBride Parker are accredited by the C.L.R.G. to teach all levels of Irish Dancing. Through the C.L.R.G .students at the McBride School are eligible to compete at C.L.R.G, approved Feisanna (plural of Feis). The McBride School and its Instructors are also registered with the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America (I.D.T.A.N.A.), Western Region. At this time, Ann McBride is the Vice President of the Western US Region.
Irish Dance Terminology:
T.C.R.G. - Certified, registered Irish Dance Teacher.
A.D.C.R.G. - Certified, registered Irish Dance Adjudicator.
Adjudicator: They judge competitors at Feisanna
C.L.R.G. - An Coimisiun Le Rince Gaelacha: The Irish Dance Commission, Dublin Ireland, who governs all accredited teachers, judges and feisanna.
Competitor Number: This is worn by the dancer during competition. This is how the judge knows who you are. You will find your results by your competitor number.
Ghillies (GIL-ees) - (Also called "soft shoes,""reel shoes," "light shoes," or "pumps") Black, soft leather shoes with criss-crossed laces. Used to perform reels, light jigs, slip jigs, single jigs, and most figure dances. Boys wear Reel shoes, which are very similar to jazz shoes, fortheir light shoe and team dancing. Hard shoes are the same for both boys and girls.
Hard Shoes - (Also called "Jig Shoes," 'Heavy Shoes," or "Heavies") Black leather shoes with fiberglass heels and taps on the toes. Used to perform treble jigs, hornpipes, set dances, and, in exhibitions and special competitions only, treble reels.
Marks/Results: The judge's score evaluating the dancer's Timing (Rhythm), Carriage (Posture), Construction of Steps (Complexity), Execution (Presentation) and Appearance.
Poodle Socks - (also called bubble socks). Special, white socks that must be worn by female dancers in competition. Boys do not wear the poodle socks.
School Costume: A dress usually worn by a dancer in the Beginner to Novive levels that identifies which school the dancer is with. The McBride School dress is Royal Blue with lace collar and an embroidered Tara Brooch on the skirt.
Solo Dress: A very elaborate and expensive dress worn by Preliminary and Open Champions (and sometimes novice and prizewinner dancers when approved by the Instructor).
Feis - (See next column)
Oireachtas - (Ah-ROK-tus) Regional Irish step dancing championships. The Westen U.S. region hosts its regional oireachtas on the third weekend of November each year. The location of the Oireachtas rotate within the Region.
NANs or Nationals (NAIDC): North American Irish Dance Championships.
Worlds: The "Olympics" of Irish Dance.
Getting ready to Compete? Download our "Preparing for your First Feis Guide located below. We have also provided the Ultimate Feis Guide and Checklist prepared by Ready to Feis. Both are great resources! Also, check out our New FEISANNA Page by clicking HERE. It will keep you updated on Local, Regional and Major Competitions - where they are and how to register. This page will have an updated Feis Calendar as well. Please note, only Championship level dancers are eligible for Major Competitions and are entered at the discretion of the McBride TCRGs.
Types of Dances:
Reels, Light Jigs and Single Jigs: As the most popular of all Irish dances, dancers first learn the beginner reel followed usually by the beginner light jig and single jig. The elements in these two dances are the foundation of all Irish dance steps. "Skip or Hop 2 3s" and the sidestep or '7s" are the basics of Irish Dancing. Your dancer will learn foot positions and correct posture that are unique to Irish Dance, as well as how to count to music.
Slip Jigs: This dance, which showcases the elements of grace and strenght, is known as the Ballet of Ireland, and is only performed by girls.
Treble Jigs and Hornpipes: As your dancer develops coordination and timing, they will begin to learn the hard shoe dances. This will require the purchase of an additional type of shoe referred to as a "hard shoe" or "heavies." Hard shoes are fitted with a fiberglass toe and heel and the dancer learns to make rhythmic sounds using the toe, heel and ball of the foot. Dancers begin by learing the traditional or fast speed hard jig (treble jig) and hornpipe, and then progress by the time they have reached the novice or prizewinner level to learning the more advanced "slow" versions, which are more intricate and place more "beats" to the music.
Traditional Set Dance: a hard shoe dance where the steps and music stay the same from school to school. Traditional set dances include St. Patrick's Day, Blackbird, Job of Journeywork, Garden of Daisies, and King of the Fairies, to name just a few. Traditional set dances are usually performed in the Grade levels and by U9 open and preliminary championship dancers.
Non-Traditional Set Dance: a hard shoe dance where the music is the same for everyone, but the instructor creates steps for the dancer. Non-traditional Set dances are performed at the championship level.
Figures/Team Dancing/Dance Dramas: Figure or team dancing allows your dancer to perform with other dancers, with the same steps at the same time. Figure dancing involves both footwork and hand/arm work as dancers work as a team to complete different movements created by the instructor. The instructor will match age, appearance, and ability of the dancers as they learn the 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 16 hand figures with their classmates. The 16 hand is also known as a "choreography" and is danced mainly at the Regional, National and World levels. Schools may also create and perform "Dance Dramas" which tell a story by irish dancing. In 2008 the McBride School's Dance Drama won the Western Region Oireachtas and recalled and medaled (10th place) at the 2009 World Championships in Philadelphia.
Ceili Dancing: More advanced dancers may be asked to join a four or eight hand Ceili Team. A Ceile dance is a figure not created by the instructor, but taught "by the book" as allowed in "Ar Rince Foirne." Ar Rince Foirne contains 30 "book" dances that are written down and performed the same way by all schools. These types of dances are perfomred at Feisanna, and Regional, National and World Championships.
What is a Feis, and is participation required?
The word "Feis" (pronounced “fesh”) comes from a Gaelic word meaning "festival". It is now used to refer to a dance competition in which all members of an Irish dance school accredited with the CLRG may participate.
At the McBride School, competion is not mandatory. We respect and understand that some dancers are here only for enjoyment, exercise, or to connect with their irish heritage. However, competitive dancing is an integral part of the Irish dance experience, and participation is recommended. Most dancers who participate in these events really enjoy themselves and experience a great sense of accomplishment, regardless of their competitive level.
How are competitions organized? What are the levels the children will go through?
Irish dance competitions are separated by age and level of expertise. The levels are as follows:
First Feis, beginner (or B1), advanced beginner (or B2), novice, prizewinner, preliminary championship, and open championship. You may also hear someone refer to the grades levels. Grade levels are B1, B2, Novice and Prizewinner.
Solo or Grade dancers perform seven (7) dances: reel, slip jig, single jig, light jig, hard jig, hornpipe and set dance. Boys will only perform six (6) dances as they do not perform or compete in the slip jig. A dancer will compete to move each of these dances up through the ranks with the desired end result of reaching championship.
In the Western Region, all dancers who wish to compete, start with their First Feis. After competing in the First Feis category, all dancers move to Beginner 1. To advance a dance from Beginner 1 to to Beginner 2, a dancer must received a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a competition with 5 or more competitors. To move a dance from Beginner 2 to Novice, a dancer must achieve a 1st or 2nd in that dance, again with 5 or more in the competition.
To move a dance from Novice to prizewinner, a dancer must receive a 1st place in that dance. Please note that a dancer may have dances in several of the levels at once. For instance, their hard shoe dances could be in B1 or B2, while their light shoe dances have advanced to Novice or Prizewinner. Each child advances and progresses through the levels/dances at their own rate.
Once a dancer has moved their dances into the Prizewinner category, they will be being working towards preliminary championship. Once your dancer has achieved the required wins in Prizewinner and received TC (teacher) approval to move into championship, please review our Championship Page. Even though your dancer may have achieved the required number of wins in Prizewinner, it is your child's TC who will decide whether they feel your dancer is ready to move into championship. Promotion to Preliminary Championship is at the TC's discretion and not by the Dancer or Dancer's parent.
Can you explain the costume that my child will need to wear in competition?
As a new dancer, your child may wear the a blue or black skirt, white long sleeve blouse and blue/black headband, poodle socks and dance shoes. Boys wear a white shirt, tie and black pants. A blue school vest can also be purchased to wear at competitions and performances. (This costume is recommended only for beginner and adv. beginner dancers under age 12).
Competitive dancers in the beginner through novice categories may also wear the formal school costume. This is a much more elaborate dress than the beginner costume, and is worn by all dancers (regardless of level) in figure dancing events.
Solo costumes may be worn by dancers in the novice and prizewinner levels and at TC's discretion. Solo costumes are worn in preliminary and open championship. These dresses may be purchased second-hand or brand new, and range in cost depending on the age and design of the dress, and who the dressmaker is. At the championship level, boys wear an more elaborate (embroidered) vest, jacket or waistcoat. All dancers purchasing a solo costume or vest/jacket/waistcoat must obtain approval from Eileen and Annie prior to purchase.
All dancers must wear their hair pulled back off their face, with a ribbon, crown or headband to match their costume. Most dancers choose to wear a wig for convenience, but this is not required for beginning dancers.
What's the Hurry?
There isnt one! Competition should motivate dancers to practice with discipline and to continually improve their dancing technique and skills. First and Foremost, it it our wish that our dancers enjoy Irish Dancing and enjoy dancing their steps well! Hopefully their hard work and dedication will be rewarded with medals and trophies, but judging at Feisanna is subjective, competitions can be very close and the results of the judges will vary. Success in Irish Dancing should not be determined solely on competiton results and rewards. We repectfully remind our dancers (and parents) to keep it all in perspective and most importantly, to have FUN!
At Feisanna, all McBride Dancers represent the McBride School. Our dancers and parents are expected to be courteous to ALL Competitors and supportive of ALL McBride Dancers, even when competing against each other. Feisanna are opportunities for dancers and parents to enjoy Irish Dancing. But there is so much more to be gained from competition than awards and medals: self confidence, self esteem, and a sense of achievement, as well as the friendships that are built and strengthened within the McBride School Family and the Irish Dance Community. All the memories, and life lessons, and more importantly, the friendships will last long after the dance shoes are put away for the very last time.