A Feis-Free Weekend!? WTF?

Actually have this weekend and next off from Feising, and then Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Halloween Feis and Dayton for the Gem City Feis (yeah, only a 30 minute drive!).

If anyone is dancing before then and wants to add a feis review, please let me know here by leaving a comment, or on Twitter @whatthefeis or on Facebook. I know I only have midwest feis reviews but I will post reviews from anywhere!

Enjoy the fall and we will be back soon!

Michigan (Muskegon) Feis Review

Michigan Feis was held on September 15, 2012 at Muskegon Catholic Central High School, Muskegon, MI.

Venue – Although spread out a little, the Muskegon Catholic Central High School was a pretty good feis venue.

Four stages spread throughout the school provided plenty of room for dancers and viewers. I spent most of my time in the gym where stages 3 and 4 were, and they were good size with lots of room between. There seemed to be plenty of seating in the bleachers for parents and friends. Another of the stages was in the auditorium and was well lit and had plenty of seating. Afraid I did not look at the 4th stage.

Camping spots were limited but everyone seemed to find a spot and there was a ‘less crowded’ feel to the venue then other recent ones.

Parking was ok, but it filled up quickly and things got a little tight. We were in at 930 and found a spot on the outer edges. I assume as the early crowd started rolling out, more and more spots opened up a little later in the morning.

One WTF Fan (well, reader anyway) who I saw at the feis did comment about limited bathrooms, and I said I would mention it. There were some close to the stage we were on, so I had no complaints.

Venue Score: 8

Judges – My daughter danced four dances and was judged by two different judges, one for her first three dances. Sorry, that is a poor rotation.

I mentioned it to feis volunteers and it got back to the feis coordinator immediately and she was very proactive getting it resolved asap, but I still feel the rotation was not well planned. The judges on the stage we were on rotated once in the morning session, and it was before we got to the stage, so I would have to say many girls were judged by the same judge for all their dances. Between me mentioning it, and the lunch break, we did get a different judge for the last dance.

Judge Score: 3

Music – Each stage had their own musicians, always good. Our stage musician did take several breaks. Since I have become use to those huge bladder judges the last few feises, who hardly take breaks,  I have to knock the score down a little for this one.

Musician Score: 8

Food – Cafeteria food, pizza, sandwiches, donuts, candy, soda, etc… all reasonably priced. My son commented that the pizza didn’t look good but tasted great, so, no complaints. Could have used a little more variety (especially since you had an Irish Festival just down the street… hint, hint).

Food Score: 7.5

Vendors – A feis tshirt guy, and George the shoe guy… always there. They also had a few other vendors, nothing awesome. I have to say though, with all the vendors at the Music Festival, having any of them show up at the feis is probably most difficult.

Vendor Score: 7

Results – Well done, but with a twist. They were posted a bit slowly, but it seemed that the awards table had them much faster. DD placed in an event and after it was posted, she went to get the award, and they gave her another award for a dance she placed in only minutes earlier, whose results had not been posted yet. That was pretty quick.

The other big kudo is that they passed out summarized sheets with all results, and judges comments, shortly after the dancers last dance. I very seldom see that.

Overall great, but not near perfect because of the slower postings.

Results Score: 9

Feis Flow – I thought this feis was well run. They kept the age group dances fairly close together, which unfortunately impacted on judging a little (see slow rotation note), and they had a lunch break that went a bit long, but otherwise, great job.

Feis Flow Score: 9

And the WTF Rating – not bad with a WTF Rating is 7.36.

Rock River Valley Feis Review

The Rock River Valley Feis was held on September 8th, 2012 at the Wellness and Sports Center, Harper College in Palatine, IL.

Venue – I thought the Wellness and Sports Center was a nice venue. Everything was in close proximity to the stages and there was room to move around, more so than some recent feiseses.

There were 6 stages all within what most of us would call a basketball arena. The OC and PC stages were in the center, taking up most of the basketball court, and were a really good size. There were three stages on one end of the court, smaller and a little close together, and then one on the other end of the court, similarly small, and off by itself. If there  was a negative comment, I would say that the three that were together were too close and that music bleed from one stage to the next apparently made it hard for some judges to focus on the dancers on their stage (valid concern not smartbutt remark like you may have come to expect from me).

The ‘arena’ was two floors tall and the top of the bleachers on one side exited into the vendor area, and the bottom on the same side exited into the results area. The concession was at one end of the arena, and awards and registration were just a short walk down the hall.

Parking was great and there was lots of it. There was a bit of walk if you didn’t get there early enough, or refused to park in staff parking (I probably could have but it was marked staff only, and there are a college cop giving out tickets).

If there were any negatives to the venue, its that the bleachers were hard to navigate for smaller children and older people, and there was no good place to display used dresses for sale. Dresses were hung on the end of the bleachers and there were literally(probably) a 100 dresses hung over the top of one another in a small space. Bad selling and buying experience.

The first issue is hard to fix but the second one should be easy :)

Venue Score: 9

Judges – My daughter danced five dances and was judged by four different judges. Good rotation.

Judge Score: 10

Music – Each stage had their own musician and I did not see any of them take a break. I also liked that there was variety, accordion, violin/fiddle, flute etc… Nice mix.

Musician Score: 10

Food – A local pub catered the event, the food was good and the prices were very fair. Not a lot of variety and no hotdog/hamburger things that may have appealed to more people, but I didnt hear any complaints.

Food Score: 8.5

Vendors – A feis tshirt guy, and George the shoe guy… do you see a pattern here? They also had some nice jewelry, the wig lady, and some gifty things. I really like shirts and I am a big guy and not much catered to my taste, but it was a good selection otherwise. You can see the vendor list here.

Vendor Score: 7.5

Results – very well done. Out in 15 minutes or less for most dances and results were right outside the stage area. Awards were just around the corner……. They did not tweet results (I think) which would have been nice, but I did notice they had posted results on their Facebook Page which I found later and am not sure if they were doing that during the feis.

If there were any ‘issues’ with the results/awards, it was the awards table. Those people were doing their best but you know how it is, all the girls wait till the end, flock the table, and there was no lines there. The awarders were passing notebooks with results back and forth, so there was no telling where you should line up and I heard one or two moms getting a little testy. Thankfully, I found our stage notebook right away and fended off the testy moms while the nice lady gave the DD her awards. I can see where it could have been handled better though. Sorry -2 extra points for the awards distribution.

Results Score: 7

Feis Flow – I thought this feis was well run but I heard a lot of griping from parents. I realize though that the gripers were the ones who didnt get started till after lunch and if they are like me, they get to the feis early so as not to miss anything.

They kept the age group dances close together and although we did not get started till 245, my DD had 5 dances done and scored by 415. Thats pretty darn good.

They had a lunch break, and that is when they did their Rock and Reel which, although a lot of fun, took a long time to get started and finish which added to the length of the day. That was one of the main griping points for some of those afternoon parents I mentioned earlier. I didn’t think it was horrible.

Feis Flow Score: 7

And the WTF Rating – Pretty darn good with a WTF Rating is 8.42.

The St Louis Gateway Feis Review

St Louis Gateway Feis LogoThe St Louis Gateway Feis was held on August 26th, 2012 at The Renaissance Hotel, St Louis,  MO.

Venue – The Renaissance was really nice. A cool bar/coffee/restaurant with fun little niches for private conversations, eclectic setting and furniture, fun chairs with foot stools, nice lobby with ceramic title and cool mirrored surfaces, but, as a feis venue, it sucked.

There were 4 stages that were nice size in separate rooms, but the areas around all except the Champion area were small and very crowded. Seating was inadequate in each space as far as I could tell, on Stage 2 it definitely was. Squatters took up chairs making the issue worse, so people were standing in what space was left making it nearly impossible to move through the area. Hallways served as a camping areas, but chairs, coolers and blankets were not allowed by the hotel, so people stood around filling the hallways making getting around difficult.

Everything was extremely spread out. Stages were in the front of the hotel, food down the hall, vendors and practice stage farther down the hall, and results and awards even farther down the hall. Add to that the ‘change the mens rooms into ladies rooms for the event’ thing that occasionally happens, and that made the mens rooms literally on the far ends of the venue.

Parking was terrible. One lot was full and extremely hard to navigate through, and I was told the other lot was closed. The feis staff gave us tickets so that parking would only cost $2, but there was no instructions on what to do with them, so towards the end of the feis, there was a line of cars waiting to exit and no one could get out (go back to the ‘hard to navigate the lot comment’) and no one could get turned around, all of which compounded the parking issue even more.

Venue Score: 1

Judges – My daughter danced four dances and was judged by four different judges. You can’t ask for better rotation than that.

Judge Score: 10

Music – Each stage had their own musician(s) and stage two had a violin and an accordion player. This allowed one to take a break and the music could continue.

Musician Score: 10

Food – Hotel conference food which was pricey. They had a nice selection and had breakfast items early, and lunch items later and it all looked good, but still pricey.

Food Score: 7

Vendors – A feis tshirt guy, and George the shoe guy and that was it. And the feis t’s were just eh, the design was not great and they looked cheap. If you didn’t need shoes and like nice tshirts, you were out of luck.

Vendor Score: 2

Results – very well done. Out in 20 minutes or less for most dances and results and awards were in the same location. They did not tweet results which would have been nice.

Results Score: 8

Feis Flow – I thought this feis was pretty well run considering the irritations. We actually almost missed our first dance since things were running well (even considering the estimating start time that has worked nearly perfectly the past two feises). They kept the dances moving through and we were done with 4 dances by 2.

They had a lunch break, but brought the food to the judges and musicians, at least on our stage, which kept the break to around 30 minutes.

Feis Flow Score: 7

And the WTF Rating – If I was scoring this like I have the previous one, I would give it about a 4.5, but, I am trying a new scoring technique, scoring each section individually, and based on that, the score the WTF Rating is 6.4.

Well, so much for that ‘next big thing’….

After hearing about the ‘one soft shoe, one hard shoe’ performance idea, the Feis Association Regarding Comical Entertainment (FARCE) has banned the idea. In addition to muffled clicks from only one hard shoe, bangs were not happening as often as expected, and when they did, they were scaring the older judges because of there unexpected occurrence. So much for that idea.

New Irish Dance Trend…

…and you heard it here first!
This just in, a new hair style for competition is about to hit the streets and WTF acquired this previously unreleased photo from one of our sources. If I were you, I would expect to see mis-matched wig and hair colors as early as this weekend.

Sources also tell us that they have seen dancers wearing one hard shoe and one soft shoe to perform, and that will be the next big thing.

Note: I really hope you guys saw the sarcasm tag. I saw this on Twitter and knew it was a perfect WTF moment. ;)  Thanks to @Kaylarosiee94 and @shaanabaanana for playing along!

And speaking of the Great Lakes Feis

Remember Rachel from MI at the Dayton Feis, well she was was there again, dancing against my daughter. Thankfully she got the last dance she needed to move up to Prelim, and she didn’t beat my daughter every time this time ;)  Sorry, I was nice the last time, I am going to be a normal Dad this time :)

Whoever told Rachel’s Mom I posted the last post, don’t tell her about this one ;)

Great Lakes Feis Review

The Great Lakes Feis was held on August 19th, 2012 at The Lansing Center, Lansing, MI.

Venue – The venue was great and and all the stages were in the same huge room. The champs at one end of the venue and everyone else at the other. I made it sound bigger than it is, and it isn’t THAT big, but there was good separation. The stages were a good size, had good seating and room between. The camping was very plentiful so the ‘camping squatters’ were annoying. You know them, the ones who set up in the viewing seats and spread out their stuff.

Parking was available a short walk from the center and was about $2 an hour where we parked.

Judges – Two different judges rotated through my daughters 4 dances, so rotation was OK. We had one judge view soft shoe, and another viewed hard shoe dances, and my daughter didn’t place in soft and placed really well in hard shoe.

We have all experienced the judge that appears to have a preference for a style (or something that puts our children at a perceived disadvantage) and I sort of felt that occurred this weekend, so I wonder if there is a way they can switch judges between dances and not ‘shoes.’ I guess we all go thorough that once in a while. One of the positive things about this feis is another reason they probably couldn’t do it for this feis (see Feis Flow below).

Music – Like Niagara Falls last week, there was a musician at each stage and the musician at our stage took very short breaks, and only a few of them, so music was continuous. Great job on the musicians.

Food – Typical convention center food at typical convention center prices. They did have salad and wraps that were not bad, and added some healthy to the normal convention fare.

Vendors – Standard vendors, the feis tshirt guy, George the shoe guy, some wigs, clips, crowns and hair accessories etc… There was some nice Irish gift things, more jewelry than usual, Guinness shirts and Irish swag. If you are interested, you can view the vendor list.

Results – well done. I would say the results were out in under 20 – 30 minutes for most dances. Also like Niagara Falls, the folks giving out the awards pulled up results on computer monitors. Well run. Same suggestion I made for Niagara Falls I make to you guys? Ever consider tweeting the results? I say that hoping I didn’t miss them.

Feis Flow – I thought this feis was very well run for a different reason than last weeks. They grouped the dances by age, grouped so tight that there was only one dance between my daughters dances. If it wasn’t for the fact the lunch break fell in there we would have been done in about an hour, but instead, she was the first dance after lunch, but we were still done by 1.

Good thing about this, as long as you have a system for knowing when you will start, you won’t be there to long, but if you plan wrong, you may miss your whole set. The bad thing, other than maybe missing your set, is the potential to have poorer judge rotation (see above).

They had a lunch break, but at least on our stage it was kept to about an hour so that was 0good.

And the WTF Rating – Overall I was impressed and give this feis a 8.5.

Watching her grow… a haiku

OK, so now you get to see the softer side of WTF. A haiku describing the changes I have seen in my daughter because of Irish dance.

clumsy, like a fawn
but feis after feis she grows
like a doe, graceful

and if for some reason I have broken some haiku structure rule, tough, I’m still going to call it a haiku.