(Inspired by How To Be A Real Ballerina by Jane Berentson)
Try ballet. Try tap. Try soccer. Try swimming. Try volleyball. Let your mom drag you to a class. Ask your teacher how to tie your ghillies. Ask before every class. Learn skip-two-three’s. Practice them on the blacktop at recess. Count in 8’s. Buy a wig. Cry when you put it on. Rent a dress. Cry when you’re too hot. Puke before your first competition. Lose everything. Be happy you got a teddy bear. Buy a pair of used heavies. Tape your heels. Don’t pop your blisters. Practice under the desk at school. Lose. Lose a lot. Win a few. Buy a custom dress. Grow out of it before you can win in it. Break your foot. Listen to the doctor. Promise to stop for 6 weeks. Come back in two. Lose some more, win the important ones. Stress out about November. Keep bobby pins in your sports bra. Make sure your lipstick isn’t on your teeth. Sprain your ankle. Don’t stop. Cry in the bathroom when your shins are black and blue. Don’t stop. Puke when you do too many crunches. Don’t stop. Fall out of bed when you do 100 calf raises. Don’t stop. Gasp for air when you do nine steps. Don’t stop. Talk shit. Stay mysterious. Turn out. Point your ankles. Curl your toes. Throw yourself in the air like the dancer you are but forget that you can’t use your arms. Drink coffee but twice as much water. Forget to drink water and substitute it with Mountain Dew. Get tanner on your white socks. Lose your red crystals. Collect blue ones instead. Hold them in your fists when you’re on stage. Break your foot again. Don’t stop. Lose, but be proud of yourself. Win the important one. Wait for the ding. Bow.
When you look at the raw results you don’t know the true story. You don’t know that the girl who got 32nd just had surgery and hadn’t danced in three months. You don’t know that the girl who got 3rd practiced for 4 hours a day and sacrificed her high school sport for dance and her goal was to win. You don’t know that the girl who got 76th is overjoyed because this was her first Oireachtas and she made the recall.
You don’t know the whole story. You can’t judge.
Everyone has individual goals and challenges
Oireachtas is one dance day and doesn’t sum up someone’s whole dance career.
Focus on the fact that these dancers competed at a regional level and spent time working for something they love.
Placement is just a number, not the sole determining factor of a dancer.