The Memphis Feis was held on May 25th, 2014 at Christian Brothers University’s De La Salle Canale Arena and Theater.
This feis is a Southern Region feis, and it was not what TGC and I were used to, not bad, in fact, in some ways better, but for any of you Mid America feisers who venture south, you may be in for a surprise. You may want to see the intro, and people who often feis in The SR can skip that part.
We got to the feis right about 830 and there were only about 30 cars in the parking lot. At start time, we are used to trying to find a parking spot any where close to the venue, so were surprised, and a little confused to see so few cars. But, we saw other people parking and heading in so we just went with the flow.
The campus was beautiful and it was less than a 2 minute walk from parking to the venue. The next part that was a bit surreal was that there were only about 100 people in the venue. Where were the hundreds, ney, thousands of people, dance bags and zucas? Realizing we were only seeing half of the stages, we went down the long hall to the auditorium, where the remaining stages were, that had to be were everyone else was, right? Nope, only another 50 people or so. What the…?
Other big difference was that there were no camping areas. Only option was to stow our gear in the viewers chairs, but there was lots of chairs, so we went with the flow. I can tell I went to Catholic school with nuns, what I was doing wasn’t wrong, but I still felt guilty ;)
The last difference I noticed was that there were no anthems played. Not sure if this is the norm in SR or not, but I have never (that I recall) been to a feis that did not play the anthems.
Christian Brothers campus is really nice. If we hadn’t had an 8 hour drive after the feis, I would have enjoyed the opportunity to walk around and see more of it.
Stages & Seating
There were 4 stages in two separate areas of the Canale center. Stages 1 & 2 were in the gymnasium for grades level dancers, and 3 & 4 were in the auditorium for PC/OC, and as I understand it, grades level later in the day, but we did not stay to see that.
Stages 1 & 2 were actually one big stage with portable dividing barriers down the center. It was hard to tell how big they were as the plywood was covered with that black flooring material. I have never been a fan stages that are literally attached, but since comps are smaller in SR, it did not seem to be to much of an issue. Seating for these stages were the gym bleachers that were set up on three sides of the stage, and seemed more than adequate for the number of people there.
Stages 3 & 4 were on the auditorium stage, also covered with the flooring material, and split down the middle with the movable barriers. For the PC/OC comps, the barriers were removed and the stage was a good size for the dancers. The seating was the auditorium chairs and there were plenty early in the day, but seemed to fill up later when OCs were winding down, and PCs were ramping up. This seating ‘issue’ was compounded because the feis held up awards for all PC/OC comps until they were all done.
Camping & Access
There was no camping, at least the type I am used to, so people used the viewers seating for stowing their gear. This was fine early in the day but as the morning progressed and more people arrived, it did start to get a bit congested in the auditorium. The gym seating ‘appeared’ to be adequate the entire time we were there.
Awards & Results Areas
Grade level awards were posted at one end of the gynasium on the second floor overlooking the stages. It was easily accessible from the gym.
Champ level dancers used the same stage they danced on in the auditorium for awards, and a podium (actually podium pieces) was brought in when it was time for the awards. Plenty of seating and fairly easy access for dancers to get to the stage when their name was called.
Parking was very plentiful, and free.
Venue Score: 9
As always, the PC/OC comps had three judges, with the same three for all the comps except one or two when a fourth judge gave one of the judges a break. They seemed very attentive and while I watched, gave equal attention to both dancers on stage.
Judge Score: 9.5
There was one musician for each set of stages and the separation between the two stage areas was sufficient to eliminate any musical confusion.
TGC did say that the musician on the auditorium stage was playing too slowly, and I had one parent make a comment about the quality of the music, although I did not get which area the musician they referred to was playing in.
Musician Score: 7.5
This venue only had a small college snack bar with pizza, hot dogs, wraps and a few other items. The food was not bad considering, and the prices were VERY reasonable. There was, as I understand it, an outrageous BBQ place within walking distance of the venue. I did not try any, but it smelled really good.
Food Score: 8
Very limited selection. Two ‘hair’ items vendors, but one also had shoes and other necessities. There was also the tshirt guy (it is never the same guy, but it is always the same guy, if you know what I mean).
Refeis That Dress was also at this feis. I had met the proprietor last year at the American Pride Feis. I thought the idea of a dress consignment was pretty cool, and was impressed to see that she now also offers dress rentals. That is, IMHO, a really good idea.
Unfortunately, the vendors where ‘vendors of necessity’ and not really ‘fun’ vendors. You shouldn’t even have to ask about the Irish M&Ms :(
Vendor Score: 6
Results for champs, as mentioned above used the stage in the auditorium. It was a nice presentation area and was up a bit higher so everyone could see well. If I could make any comment, it would be to maybe break after OC and do their awards, and then do PC when their comps are complete. This would allow OCs to head out sooner and reduce some of the auditorium congestion.
One of the judges read the results and went through all the OC and PC comps fairly quickly. The reading was a bit different, by which I mean they did not read the hard and soft shoe results before the overall for each comp like I am used to. This proved to be nerve-wracking, because when you know the individual dance results, you may have a gauge for the overall results. Needless to say, every number that was not TGCs when they were being read was both a relief and a new opportunity to stress until the next number was called. ;)
Results Score: 8.5
This is where I think the biggest issue with the feis was. TGCs comp did not get started till 2 hours after its scheduled start time, and although they kept things moving, this two hour (and maybe a bit more) was never made up. Champ awards were supposed to be announced at lunch, and it as at least 2 before it actually happened.
Feis Flow: 7
Two part scoring with a Feis Score consisting of Judging, Music, Results and Flow, and then the overall consisting of everything.
Feis Score: 8.125
And the WTF Rating is 7.93… Not bad, and I think we would consider doing this feis again, but we would plan maybe an extra day.
EDITOR’s NOTE: There was a rumor that this may be the last Memphis Feis, but I can neither confirm nor deny said rumor.