#(i asked this) #(i feel so happy and hopeful right now)
I think yes you could definitely get into Riverdance even if you were a late starter. We have people in the show now that didn’t start until as late as 16. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it!
#this is beautiful #LEXI I WANNA HUG YOU FOR SOME VERY ODD REASON
YOU’RE AN ANGEL THANK YOU
the problem is, my story is so uninteresting. so be prepared for nothing spectacular. (also this is really, really long so be prepared for that as well)
all i remember is i started dance really young. i believe it will be about ten years since i started competing, as of november.
my school was using one of the ballet studios at our city’s rec center for their tuesday classes, and the classes were advertised in the monthly catalog that went out to all the city residents. my last name being sullivan and my dad being extremely proud of our heritage (like every irish person you’ll ever meet), my mom figured it would be a good sport to get me into. i had tried ballet, swimming, gymnastics, and everything was fun up to a point, but i didn’t feel a real connection to anything. until i started irish dance.
i remember my first class very clearly. the first thing i learned was skips, and my teacher described them as rocking horses, where you rock back and forth on your feet. and i just watched the other girls in order to learn how to time the move to the music. it took a few rounds of skipping around the room before it finally clicked, and then she could teach me a light jig.
fast forward a few weeks (i believe started dancing in september/october) and my mom started driving me down to our actual studio for practice. it was a thirty minute drive and quite a pain in the ass as she continues to express to this day, but she understood that if i was going to get into something, i had to keep doing it. and so far, i was loving it.
late october, my TC asked if i wanted to compete. thinking it would be something similar to a ballet recital i had done in the past, we quickly agreed.
my god we were so wrong.
i woke up in the middle of the night before the feis, rolled over, and puked on the side of my bed. my body was like “we’re anxious! what do we do?” and my stomach goes “i dunno let’s get rid of dinner i guess” and then, exhausted from the anxiety that had kept me up, i rolled over and went back to sleep.
the younger you are, the earlier you have to get up to compete. and this feis was at least two hours away from my house, so calculate that into having to be there an hour early just to be sure, i was up at four, bawling my eyes out as my mother dug the claw of a wig into my scalp until i couldn’t move my eyebrows. all four of us - the fourth being my younger sister who was still in diapers at the time - hopped into the car, drove for two hours, and arrived at the venue.
i didn’t know why i felt anxious. i had no idea why i was so utterly terrified that my body had to go “yeah, dinner was good, but we can get rid of it now” in the middle of the night, but something deep inside me had somehow known that this wasn’t going to be a ballet recital. and when we walked through the doors, i had this “i fucking KNEW it” moment when i saw flashes of neon solo dresses and messy wigs and clouds of hairspray and lots of tears.
my TC was there to help us, so she taught us how to check in and how to put my number on and how to read the cards and all that. i was only dancing soft shoe - my reel and my light jig - as well as an eight hand (side note: i was the fucking QUEEN of figures as a child. no one fucked with me and my crew, but that’s another story), so all i had to do was keep my ghillies on all day.
i go to sit down and put on my soft shoes, getting that god-awful feeling in my gut again of “oh, what’s this a banana for breakfast? DO YOU DARE CHALLENGE ME AFTER LAST NIGHT’S ADVENTURE?” and completely forgot that the butt of the chairs flipped backwards when you stepped on them. so, naturally, i put my foot on the back of the chair in front of me in order to tie my ghillie, and a nice, pipping hot, full cup of coffee flipped me the finger and said “white socks? not anymore” as it dumped all over my legs.
my biggest concern was the fact that i might have third degree burns from my dad’s coffee. my mother’s concern was “how the fuck am i going to get coffee out of WHITE SOCKS” and the only logical answer was to bathe her daughter’s leg, without taking the socks off because we already glued them on and why waste glue haha amiright
so here i am, sitting in a sink as my mother angrily scrubs away coffee from my sock and probably dead tissue from the burns as well, but i couldn’t cry because - hello: fresh make up. and all i can think is “what have i gotten myself into?” the only thing i understood about feiseanna at that point was that it involved vomiting in the middle of the night and sitting in a sink while your mother complains about everyone’s incompetence. and i was like “why am i here?”
i don’t even remember competing. i don’t remember, after being cleaned off like a muddy dog in the bathroom, being anxious about going on stage and dancing. all i know is that it happened, and by the end of it, i had a teddy bear, new poodle socks, and three third place medals (i TOLD you not to fuck with my crew; we placed third and it was all our first time competing holla @ yo bitch)
after that, i adjusted rather well. i never got sick again - thank god - and no matter where i am, i never, ever trust the chairs. or coffee. always drink something that won’t stain the morning of a feis, and if you do have coffee, keep it as far away as possible from you at all times. use six straws if you have to; just keep it away.
i remember my slip jig moved up super quickly. i had already qualified my slip jig for champs before the rest of my steps were even out of novice, my hard shoe still being in beginner II. soft shoe was my area of expertise.
i like to call prizewinner the bottle neck level. it’s the absolute worst level to get stuck in because you might get stuck with the girl who’s still competing it even though she’s won it like six times but still needs one other dance to qualify, and you keep getting placed right behind her and it won’t count. it was around this time that i started losing interest; i’d moved up so quickly and i’d done nothing but improve, and for all of that to come to a screeching halt made me question, yet again (but for real this time) why i was in this sport. i tried and tried and tried, and i simply couldn’t get anything up any further. i was stuck with some in novice, most in PW, and i just couldn’t handle that feeling of not getting better. so my fracture came at the perfect time.
let me explain you something. march in colorado is always, always on one end of our scale or the other; there is never a happy medium with the weather in denver. st. patrick’s day season is either “here, take these three coats and two pairs of gloves. how many tights do you have on? only three? you need another pair. put another pair of socks under your poodle socks too. i don’t think you need hairspray; just get your hair wet and stand outside for six seconds. let nature freeze it.”
"that summer dress looks a little heavy. are you sure you need to wear poodle socks? what if you just wear ankle socks? you’re going to die of heatstroke in that wig; we’ll just braid your hair. or we could cut it all off right here if you want. what do you mean you’re afraid of me with scissors? how much sunblock do you have on? i know i already put on two layers but i think you need a third. i don’t care if you’ll be in bars and nursing homes all day; you have to walk from the car to the venue and you might get skin cancer."
this particular st. patrick’s day was the first option; so blistering cold that i couldn’t move my fingers while i was dancing my two hand with my partner (it was also screwing me up that i was the lady; my regular partner and best friend had decided it was too cold to go and i was usually the gent with her), and my nose wouldn’t stop running and my wig was cutting off circulation to my scalp and everything was just going downhill, fast.
denver is the third largest city for the st. pat’s parade in the country. do you know what that means? right behind chicago and fucking new york city, we have the biggest parade. and it’s fantastic - unless mother nature flips a big “fuck you!” to all of us dancers.
the roller derby girls were dressed better than i was; i don’t know if you’ve ever seen roller derby girls. just think “fishnets” and that’s probably all you have to know. they wear little to nothing as their outfits, and they looked warmer than we did. so it fucking sucked.
i got to the end of the parade, which is about twelve blocks, and my mom was waiting there for me in her nice warm car, and i got in and immediately started crying. like ugly, snot-crying, because i was so cold. she turned on the heater and i stuck my hands in front of them and they were so frozen that it hurt to warm them up. that’s how cold it was.
cut to a week later, after that parade and all the bar gigs and nursing home shows, and i have this uncomfortable pain in my right foot. right on the side, there’s a swollen bump that won’t go away, and every time i walk on my toes, it hurts more. my TC told me it was just some growing pains, a sprained muscle, that all i had to do was massage it, and it would go away.
well it didn’t. so i go to see a doctor, telling him that’s what i was told, and he laughs as he points at my x-ray. “see that little sliver right there? yeah, that’s a bone. you can’t massage away a sliver of bone, kid.”
i had gotten a stress fracture at some point during my miserable st. patrick’s day adventure, and though i wanted to be sad when he told me i needed to take a break, i knew i was secretly grateful. now my mom could stop complaining about feis fees and gas prices of driving me everywhere and back, and i could try to figure out if dance was worth it.
i took about two weeks off, tried to go back and remind myself i loved dance, and then… i stopped. i stopped going to practice, i stopped dancing down the aisles at the grocery store, i stopped blasting reels in my living room and skipping around in circles. i had fallen out of love with this sport, and it wasn’t until later did i realize how much that fucking sucked.
lord of the dance brought me back to it. i tried cheer in my freshman year, and that brought me so much anxiety that i nearly threw up every time before practice, so that was quickly a no-go (though i did love the glitter and competition scene for obvious reasons). i was invited to lord of the dance by someone who had an extra ticket, and listening to the music, i found myself dancing with my hands. i called my mom immediately after the show and told her i needed to go back, that i had been missing something and i knew i had been and i just found it again.
but i didn’t go. i didn’t have time. i was a freshman in high school, aiming to be on the IB track, and i couldn’t get myself to go back. i realized how much i loved it, but it just didn’t fit into my life.
then things got bad for me. sophomore year was the worst year of my life; my anxiety was at an all-time high, and i had developed a welling sadness that brought me to an all-time low. i was sick for a whole week once because the though of going to my AP class made me physically ill. i had no motivation to do anything; getting out of bed resulted in my crying while i got dressed, dreading the day as it would come, and begging my parents not to make me go to school.
i had no reason to be sad, no reason to be depressed. no one had died, i hadn’t suffered any major loss. i just woke up one day, and i was super duper sad, and i couldn’t help it. that’s when the self harm started, and it didn’t stop till months later.
i didn’t want to exist anymore. i didn’t want to commit suicide; i knew how that would affect my parents, my sister. i just woke up every day wishing that i simply didn’t exist, that i wouldn’t have been born.
eventually, it got bad enough that i almost took my own life. that was when someone stepped into my life and convinced me that problems can’t be solved if you ignore them. so i confronted my parents, my boyfriend, and told them just how bad i really was, and i showed them the old scars and the fresh wounds. the next day, i had a scheduled therapy appointment.
it took a few months, but i’m so grateful. i’m so grateful that i told my parents just how bad my anxiety was, just how depressed i was. i was put on a low dose anti-anxiety medication that helped with the depression, and i’m still on it to help me cope with the anxiety problem i’ve had for quite some time. my mind is always in this mode of “this will probably kill you, you know that right? ordering this drink at starbucks? this woman is going to think you’re the craziest bitch she’s ever seen, and i don’t know how, but it will kill you. i’m sure of it.” it’s not that way anymore; thank god for drugs.
how does this relate to dance, you ask? well, it was after i started going to therapy that my parents suggested i go back to dance. i was thrilled; i had been dying to go back for almost a year since i’d been gone, but i never made it, and now they were encouraging me to go. i had my own car now and everything, so i could take myself.
i had this new motivation. i had this new appreciation for this sport, all the years of happiness it had given me that i’d forgotten about. i hated everything except for this sport. when i had a shitty day at school, i got to think “well at least i have practice” and i could go to our little studio and almost kick mirrors down and slam on the floor so hard i’d get shin splints, and i’d feel better. and i wanted to compete again, so i did.
it was my first feis back. i’d been practicing again for about two months, and it was our school’s feis, my favorite feis. i had to drive up to estes park, which is this gorgeous tiny town about three hours out of denver, and it was the first feis my parents hadn’t been there for. i’d done it all on my own - with the help of my boyfriend, of course.
i danced five dances - reel, slip, treble, hornpipe and set - and i qualified four of them into champs. i remember being on stage, ready to go for my hornpipe when i saw my dance family there, all holding up number 1’s. deciding that i really didn’t need to worry about my traditional set, my TC agreed to let me move up into champs. so that’s what i did.
we had a significant champ program at that time. my entire time with that school had been watching champ teachers fade in and fade out, and watching a lot of my friends who had moved up before me switch schools because there were no steady champ teachers there to coach them. when i moved up, we had three new teachers and a strong, strict program that instantly terrified me.
the stamina of these kids was horrifying. the “circle of death,” which is a warm up we do occasionally that consists of a ten minute reel, in which we skip around in a circle for 16 or 32, stop and then do flutters for 8 or 16, or double ups or some kind of trick, was the first thing we did on my first champ class. i made it through about 32 counts before i fell over. literally. plus, the tricks these kids could do also terrified me. i’d never even seen some of the things they were doing. it was like my little ego balloon filled with exciting thoughts like “i deserve to be in champs! i’m good enough for this” had been stabbed viciously by eight girls and three teachers. all i had left was a sad piece of latex that i used to bandage my wounds.
not only was the class itself terrifying, as well as the steps i was expected to learn within a single class, but there were kids who hated me. i’m not just saying that like “oh they just didn’t grow to like me” no. they seriously hated me. i know that, because thEY TOLD MY FRIENDS THEY HATED ME. let me tell you, having a majority of the class ganging up on you makes you not particularly excited to go to class.
it took a few weeks, a lot of missed classes made up for with private lessons, but eventually i was accepted, and i learned that, for most of them, i just needed to prove myself. you don’t just move up out of prizewinner and get to say you’re a champ. you have to go to the champ classes, kill yourself in a three hour class routinely, and then you’re allowed to wear the champ gear with pride. then, and only then.
over the course of a year, we’ve lost a lot of girls. some just didn’t have time for the sport, others had lost their love, others went to different schools, and still others went to college. now, my little champ family is down to five, including myself. and i wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Guys this ^^ is worth reading
it is hella rad, omg
i’m torn now /o\#choreo-wise i have no idea how good i am at coming up with and mixing steps though #also andie ilu 5ever pls remember that thnx #Anonymous #ask