I hope you fall in love with dance.
I hope you fall in love so hard that it fills all of the dark places in your soul
With so much light.
That you find a sudden strength that gives you the power to fight
Through difficult times.

When we were young we were dazzled by these unreachable champions.
They wore beautiful dresses and they flew like birds across the stage.
We never could see the hours of practice and injuries at that age.
We only saw power and grace perfected.

There was so much love in that young, pigeoned toed dancer’s heart.
All she wanted to do was learn how to fly too.
How to learn to be a musician with her feet.
Creating rhythms that feel like a heart beat.
It was that little girl’s everything
Always keeping her awake at night with dreams.

And now she is older, she is you.
Standing before a mirror and not sure on what to do.
You’re tired and it feels like those dreams seemed to slip away
You can’t pin point when or what day
But somehow they did.
And you’re starting to feel undone.
As if failure has won.

But hope is not lost.
I hope the missing puzzle piece hits you one day,
When you finish that move you have been working months on.
When you finally get it and the pride comes rushing in.
When you finally win that 1st.
Let it all rush in and never let it go.

I hope you fall head over heels for dance once more.
Eager to walk through the studio’s doors
And make yourself into exactly who that little girl knew you could be.
Because you can.

I hope you fall so in love that it becomes the reason you breathe.
That it fills you with so much fulfillment and happiness,
That the blisters and bruises just don’t matter.
Because you proved that you could do it.

I hope that all of that love and passion pays off.
That one day, you will get that recall. That you might find yourself on that podium. Or whatever goal you dreamed of at night, while you ran through your steps in your head.
Right before bed,
Every night you saw yourself in that place.

I hope it becomes more than just a dream.
Because you have it in you.
I know you do.
The little girl knows you do.
Do you?


So glad this was caught on video!!!

Oireachtas Rince Uldah (Ulster): November 3,4,5

Mainland European Oireachtas: November 4,5

Eastern Canada Oireachtas: November 10,11,12

Western Canada Oireachtas: November 10,11,12

Southern UK Oireachtas: November 16,17,18,19

New England Oireachtas: November 17,18,19

Western USA Oireachtas: November 17,18,19

Oireachtas na Mumhan (Munster): November 23,24,25,26

Midlands UK Oireachtas: November 24,25,26

Mid-America Oireachtas: November 24,25,26

Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas: November 24,25,26

Oireachtas Rince Laighean (Leinster): November 24,25,26

Northwest UK Oireachtas: December 1,2,3

Southern USA Oireachtas: December 1,2,3

(Couldn’t find a few regions, and Australia already had theirs)

I’m actually stunned that there’s a few of you who are liking the akayona Irish dance au, lol, so since I now feel like I should clean up my existing sketches a bit before I post them, in the meantime here’s a drawing of an older Yona I did a few weeks ago but never got around to posting.


St. Patricks Day performed as you have never seen it before… What causes the variations in these supposedly “traditional” sets?

What made the biggest difference when preparing for your Oireachtas?

**LONG POST COMING but this is a very honest recount of my Oireachtas prep and competition day**


It all started in Orlando when I didn’t land the recall I had hoped for - it stung. Despite all my efforts in the gym and studio, it wasn’t enough to make it to the final round. That being said, my sister had a much better outcome in Orlando by landing a recall at her first nationals and her second competition as an Open dancer - an achievement that deserves high praise. I was thrilled for her, despite feeling vexed about my own results. 

That’s when everything changed.

The minute I landed on home soil, I began training for the Oireachtas. I’ll be the first to admit that my track record at our Oireachtas has never been great. My placement over the last few years was always near the bottom and I swore to myself that I wouldn’t allow it to happen again this year.

My god, I was going to do whatever it took to get that recall.

I did everything I could think of to better my chances of achieving my goal. My stamina was always my biggest porblem and I decided to take my mom’s advice and start doing wind sprints. I sprinted 2-3 times a week between studio classes and skipped between my laps. I wanted to puke my guts out at the end of each training session, but I knew it would be worth it. I followed these sprints with a gym workout to build up my strength despite my exhaustion from cardio.

I worked my butt of in the studio - leaving drenched in sweat. I reworked the weaker parts of my TJ and set dance to make sure they were perfect.

I fought through the bruised toes, blisters and aching feet. I fought through the shinsplints that made a vicious comeback after years of no pain. I fought through the exhaustion my muscles felt and remembered that it would all be worth it.

I grimaced and gritted my teeth through the deep tissue leg massages at my sister’s physio clinic. I doused my legs in Lakota Extra Strength or Voltaren, and wrapped my shins in tensors each practice. 

“All of this will be worth it the minute you hear your number recalled. It’ll be worth it if you have a shot at Worlds,” I would tell myself.

What was once months before the Oireachtas became weeks, and soon we were only a week away from competing.

The wind sprints had increased my lung capacity, stamina and short-term muscle recovery. My gym training had strengthened and toned my body into peak physical condition. My final deep tissue leg massage worked out the knots and exhaustion in my muscles, as well as temporarily relieved the pain from my shinsplints. I knew my dances like the back of my hand after months of preparation. I had perfected my visuals - I knew when to make eye contact with the judges and when to smile. I knew which foods I had to eat to supply my body with the energy it needed - gluten free and all.

As we drove down to Calgary, I visualized myself onstage for each round and where I needed to move for each step. I thought of when I had to focus on a judge - smiling, eye contact and all. Then I visualized myself being recalled and qualifying for Worlds. 

There was a possibility I could make it happen, but I needed to be 100% focused. I had to believe I could do it.

By Saturday afternoon, I had walked off the stage with two strong rounds. When they began announcing my group’s recalls, my sister held my hand anxiously after hearing her own number. Another dancer from our school, who is like a psuedo-sister, anxiously waited with us. When they called out my number, we joyfully cried out and hugged. After years of never recalling and placing in the bottom, my sister and I had recalled together in the Senior Ladies category.

That being said, I also knew that some of my own friends and fellow competitors didn’t get the recall they were hoping for. After strapping on my hardhoes, I went to each of them to congratulate them on a job well done. After seeing each of them, I quickly warmed up and ran through my set for its debut on stage. I said a quick “this is for you” to my grandfather, who was an avid supporter of our competitive career, and stepped onstage to do the Piper - a set chosen to honour his time in highland dancing.

My third round is a bit of a blur. I remember looking at my sister, mom and teacher for visual cues of what to do. They would tell me if I needed to lift higher, move more or smile. After that, it was like a curtain had fallen around me. I can only recall the blur of my surroundings as I danced and the sound of the music.

I finished my third round, thanked the musicians and made my way offstage. Once I passed out of the judges’ view, I relaxed and felt the full brunt of my bruised toes. It hurt to walk back to where my family and friends stood, but it was worth every bit of pain to have a strong final performance. No matter what happened, I was happy with what I put on that stage.

Fast forward to that evening, and we eagerly waited for our group’s results. While my teacher watched the awards from the side stage, I waited with my sister and my good friend Shannon. We filed on stage with our group, hand in hand, and waited as they began our group’s awards - the final group of the evening. 

As my sister and I held our breath, we listened as they called 12th and then 11th place. My sister and I, after always being in the bottom three, had placed in the top 10! Shortly after, my sister was announced as 10th place and she accepted her medal and NANs qualification certificate. Then 9th place was called.

That was when the announcer paused and waited for what we hoped was the big announcement. Seconds later, the remaining dancers and I were announced as the world qualifiers. Shannon was already bent over in tears and I remember sobbing into my hands when I realized I had done what I never thought I’d do - I was going to the Worlds. My sister had rushed back to hug me before they called my number out as 8th place. With tears streaming down my face, I accepted my medal, certificate and rose before taking my place.

If you can dream it and believe it, you can achieve it! 

I achieved not one, but two childhood dreams that night. I qualified for the Worlds and I will get to compete in Ireland before I retire in 2019. So if I can do it, so can you!

Set out your goals. Make a plan on how you will achieve those goals and set your plan into motion. I can promise you one thing, it’ll be worth it.


So last Sunday I jumped from 12th to 4th place and qualified for the worlds, all while attending a really competitive college and also working. Compared to what some people have accomplished, this isn’t much, but for me, jumping 50 places in 3 years is more than I ever expected.The response from my family and friends has been so wonderful. Some of my closest friends and people I have never even met have told me I inspire them, which is probably the best compliment I have ever received in my life.

Let me tell you this though: these things don’t just happen. This did not just happen. I worked harder this past year than I ever have. I practiced 6 days a week, and went to to the gym a ton, squeezing in something wherever I could. I used every moment of class, noted every critique, and recognized what needed to be fixed.

The point is, it is within your grasp. I didn’t get the results I wanted until I changed the way I was working. It isn’t going to happen if you don’t put the work in and you won’t find results until you lose the excuses. Of course it all comes down to so many factors on the day you dance, but you are in control of setting yourself up for success. The only way you will change your dancing is if you decide to.

We tend to get really down on ourselves due to the competitve-ness of our sport. Just remember that your dancing is your own, and no one can really tell you that you’re doing it wrong. As long as you like what you’re doing, your dancing is going to be beautiful. It’s your own expression, and no judge can really place that. So, keep your chin up, my friend, you’re doing lovely.


The stunning talent of the NAFC Belt winners!

spooky-ghost-kid  asked:

Hello :D!!! I was wondering, what do you think it takes to recall at oireachtas?

Sorry this took me so long to respond! I haven’t been very active until today.

With regards to recalling at the Oireachtas, there are dozens of factors that can bee considered. The list is truly endless. 

That being said, I can note a few things that I paid close attention to when training for the Oireachtas.

  1. Confidence. I spent a lot of my practices walking on and off the “stage” from the side of my studio. I wanted to make sure that I knew exactly how to project myself from the very moment I was in the judges’ line of sight. This also means no hand dancing on side stage - that will alert judges that you may be unsure or second guessing yourself.
  2. Smiling and eye contact. Along with my practice in #1, we also had three people stationed as the judges at the front of the studio. We used this as a way to ensure that we were giving each judge a chance to see our steps by dancing in front of them. I made eye contact with each judge through my rounds and smiled directly at them. It’s a long day for any of the judges, so I always try to make sure I show them how much I love doing what I do. 😊
  3. Fuel. Start figuring out what meals you find provide the most energy for your practices. Once you figure out what foods work the best, make sure you pack those so you can eat accordingly the day of. If it’s out of town, make sure you bring anything non-perishable with you in your bag while traveling. Personally, I love stocking up on GF oatmeal for dancing because it sticks to the wall of my stomach and fuels me up (along with various fruits, proteins and more).
  4. Practice. The more you prepare for the big day, the less stress you will feel at the Oireachtas. All your hard work and dedication will culminate that day with the right approach to practicing and training. Once the day comes, you won’t be second guessing anything on side stage because you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
  5. On the tougher days, try listening to motivational speeches. I know it sounds cheesy, but this really amped me up before a practice or workout. There’s just something about hearing another person or athlete reiterate everything you are currently telling yourself.
  6. Believe in Yourself. I’ll finish with this because I believe this is THE most important thing to remember. You can do all the preparing in the world, but you have to believe in yourself. Over the next few months, I want to envision yourself succeeding on the stage. The more I imagined how amazing it would be to hear my number called, the hungrier I got for that success. By October, I remember thinking how incredible it would be to hear that fated pause before hearing that the remaining girls had qualified for the Worlds. The more I thought of it, the less it became a dream.

At the end of the day, you just have to give yourself every chance to grow and succeed. Don’t beat yourself up on the days where things get tough or you have a crap practice. We all have those days. Challenge yourself in every practice, run and workout. Hell, I even have days where I’m in the studio alone and I’ll outright yell at myself to push through the dance if I fade on the final half step.

Everyone has a chance to shine on any occasion. So carpe the hell out of this diem and show the entire world what you can do. 😊 Like I always say, the sky’s the limit and you’re the only person who is going to stand between yourself and your success.

Best of luck!


Yearly tradition.

For those of us who didn’t get the result we wanted this past season.

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.


When we were young, we dreamed of high kicks, but never imagined the pain.

When we were young, we dreamed of perfect rhythms, but never imagined the late night drills.

When we were young, we dreamed of straight backs, but never imagined sweaty pre-dawn sit ups.

When we were young, we dreamed of flying, but never imagined the price of landing.

When we were young, we dreamed of smiling atop a podium, but never imagined the tears that led the way.

We still dream of being champions, but can’t imagine, don’t realise, that we already are.

—  I sat on the train and made myself tear up writing this. It’s not oireachtas season for me, but this one goes out to all of you. X