Kelly School pin
Basically you start out as Beginner 1 in 4 soft shoe dances and 3 hard shoe dances. As you place in the top 3 you can move on up to Beginner 2. From there, you have to place in the top 2 to move to novice level. At present, Sarah is novice level in 3 soft shoe dances and 1 hard shoe dance. The next step after novice would be prize winner level and then champion levels from there on. So she has been doing quite well pretty fast!
So every November, kids compete at the Oireachtas. For kids that are 10 and up this is a HUGE deal, because if they place well (it varies on how many are in their competition), they can qualify to go to the World Championships!! This is typically the only way to qualify. I believe you can at the National competition, but that takes place after Worlds. This year the World Championships are in Belfast, Northern Ireland in April.
Sarah got to compete in her first Oireachtas this year, which was a big accomplishment. Teachers get to hand pick you they think should compete. (I could not register Sarah myself, the teacher decides). Sarah was picked to compete in the Traditional set competition which is a beginning level competition. Dancers in this competition cannot qualify for Worlds regardless of age. They have to compete at the champion level. Sarah had 22 in her competition and she placed 6th!! We were so proud. She danced the St. Patrick's Day dance beautifully!
Sarah also got to compete on a Ceili Team. They danced the High Cauled Cap traditional dance and Sarah's team did well. They had 10 teams in their group and they placed 8th. They had hoped for higher, but they were a young team and had not been practicing for very long. This was their first time doing the dance at a competition, too, so there was probably a little bit of nerves at play. She had fun doing it, though!
So Sarah's upcoming goals: She wants to place in the novice level in her remaining dances at the next Feis in Indian Wells next week. We have ordered her a solo dress from Ireland and I promised her she could have it once she reached novice level completely! The dress is not here yet and we cannot wait to see it. Once the kids reach novice level, they can forgo the school uniform and wear the sparkly costume!
Next goal: To work hard this year, go to as many Feis' as we can, and by next Oireachtas get to compete at the championship level. Her big goal would be to recall at Oireachtas (which means to be a finalist), so we will see. There could be up to 80-100 girls in her competition next year, so that would be quite the accomplishment. What awesome practice and experience to have for the next few years leading up to being able to qualify for Worlds! The biggest of all dreams!
To learn more about this little world of Irish Dance I highly recommend watching the documentary called JIG. It is the story of different kids competing at the 40th anniversary of the World Championships. Awesome dancing and it explains a lot about what life is like being an Irish dancer and a parent of one.