Rince Na h’Eireann Charlotte Feis 2014 Review

3948211The RNE Charlotte Feis was held on October 25th, 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in the UNC Charlotte are and was held in memory of Brian Quinlivan and what a great memorial it was to him. This is always a favorite feis because of the venue, the draw of the competitors from the region and the awards.

Venue and Food

This feis took place at the Hilton Hotel in the UNC Charlotte area. Since this venue is in the middle of a retail complex, there was plenty of parking for the number of people attending as well as plenty of restaurants within walking distance so you weren’t locked into the typical hotel food.

There were signs posted in the hall ways letting people know it was unacceptable to ‘camp’ and there was a security guard who made sure the rule was enforced. This allowed people to easily get between rooms without having to navigate around stuff scattered on the floor. I don’t know if the organizer planned this or the hotel but it was MUCH appreciated.

My only complaint were the costs for snacks sold by the venue which I thought were overpriced which is probably par for the course and the length of time it took to get through the Starbuck’s line. With only 4 people ahead of me, each ordering 2 drinks a piece, it still took about 20 minutes at 7am!

Stages/Music

There were a total of 5 stages. According to the schedule, Stages 1-3 were in the main ballroom and were host to Figures and grade levels. They were slightly raised (inches) and covered in marlee. Tape divided the 3 stages which were all serviced by the same accordion player.

Stage 4 was the Champion Stage and was a beautiful raised stage covered in marlee as well. PC & OCs were all supposed to dance on this stage but unfortunately, the U15 and higher PCs were moved to stages 1 & 2. This caused a lot of confusion since families were arriving in the afternoon and were hearing conflicting stories as to the schedule change.

Stage 5 was plywood and used for the Prizewinner/PC non traditional sets.

Judges/Competition

I commend the feis coordinators for splitting the competitions in the PC & OC levels so that the dancers could compete against other dancers in their same draw and age. This does require extra awards and time but it is nice to see how competitive the dancers are in relation to their age group this close to Oireachtas. The one thing that I think disappointed some dancers and parents is when the U15 and above PC levels were still dancing 3 at a time versus 2 at a time. I am assuming this was more because of how late it was in the day.

It was nice to see comments from all of the judges which were emailed out that same evening.

Vendors

The vendors were the typical ones and could get everything from socks to wigs to shoes including the make your own t-shirt vendor.

Awards

The results for the grades and the recall lists were posted VERY fast! I think within 20 minutes of the completion of the competition which I attribute to the number of volunteers the organizers probably had in the tabulations room. I think this helped with the crowd control so that people could dance, see the results and leave when they were finished versus having to hang around and wait.
Gorgeous perpetual trophies were given out to the winner of Traditional Sets as well as PC and OC winners. It was nice to see the Traditional Sets held in such high regard by presenting such beautiful trophies since it is the basis for modern Irish Dance.

The OCs dancers who made it to the podium received beautiful platters and the coveted embroidered pink and green sash. PC dancers on the podium received imprinted sashes. Prizes for individual rounds were also given which is nice for some of the dancers to receive who didn’t make the recall list.

Volunteers

It is so nice to get to a feis and encounter volunteers who were happy to be there. I think they were the contributing factor to the success of the overall event. They should all be congratulated.

Social Media

There was no social media effort for this feis which is unfortunate. There is a lot of great communication that can be pushed out through Facebook and Twitter that can solve some confusion when competitions get moved around on stages or what competitions are being run concurrently as well as when awards are going to be announced. It can also help promote the event to boost attendance. My recommendation would be for the feis organizers to look into a social media plan for next year but start to build a presence months before the actual event.

Summary

Well run feis! To quote a family who travels there every year by plane, ‘it is one of our favorites and we wouldn’t miss it!’ I, myself, will definitely return.

Score 9.5

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