All About Feis
Irish Dance Competition
Learn about Feis
So you’ve heard of a feis but you’re not exactly sure what it is. You’re in the right place to find out! Put simply it is an Irish dance competition – the word itself is pronounced as ‘fesh’. You may also hear the word feisanna used in conjunction with this form of dancing. This is the plural of the word feis.
These feisanna – or festivals – took place in ancient times but they have become incredibly popular in modern times too. Indeed many young people join dance schools that are run by certified Irish dance teachers, to learn the various styles and steps that are required for those entering a feis.
Are there different levels of competitions to enter?
Yes there are, and the level the dancer enters at will depend on whether they have performed at a feis before. If they did, their positioning in the previous feis will help to indicate which level they will perform at this time.
For example all new dancers will enter at beginner one level. This is also reserved for those who have danced before but haven’t been placed in the top positions on those occasions. The top level is the open championship level. This requires two first placed positions in the level below this – the preliminary championship level – and requires the greatest of skill.
How does a child enter a feis?
It’s important to realise that you cannot just enter your child into a competition. They need to be part of a recognised dance school, and the teacher must be registered with the organisation that arranges the feisanna.
So the first step is to enrol in such a school and start to learn the various dances and moves that will eventually – hopefully – lead to being able to take part in a proper feis. The decision on when an individual is ready to enter a proper competition will be taken by the dance teachers. They know what to look for and they will know not to push the individual into the competition before they are ready.
One other important point to note is that when your child is ready to enter a feis, you will have to complete a registration form. Some parents leave this too late and as a result the child is not accepted into the competition. This will not be a reflection on the child; it simply shows how popular these competitions are.
What is it like to attend a feis?
To say that a feis is a memorable experience would be a major understatement! In fact it is a busy and overwhelming environment for those who enter it for the first time. While it is properly organised it doesn’t usually run to time, so those taking part or watching their children take part should be aware that there may be some waiting involved before the event is over.
In short, a feis may seem confusing and complicated to begin with. But once you start to learn more about it you will see that it is a thrilling experience for all involved.