In a little over a week, we'll be boarding various flights and headed south to Orlando for the 2016 North American Irish Dance Championships. We are seriously so excited to cheer all of you on! And it's an interesting mix this year. We have several of you going who are veterans at this major, but just as many attending who are there for the first time. So regardless of whether this is your first trip to the NAIDC, or your second or your whatever-I've-lost-count (ahem... Shannon), here are a few words for you...
For our first-timers (Tierney, Noelle, Cassie, Lauren, Melissa, Nylagh, Claire - we're looking at you kiddos):
1. You deserve to be here. You've worked so hard. You earned your qualifying spot just like everyone else. Do not be intimidated. You've got this.
2. Look the part. Make sure you do the tan and the false eyelashes and go all out! It's part of the experience and the performance. Have fun with it.
3. Wherever possible, take time to watch and learn - highlight some of the top dancers in your program and make a point of checking out their rounds (maybe not your own competition if this freaks you out!)
4. Dance hard, hold nothing back. Smile! Remember that your judges don't know how many times you've danced at the NAIDC. Show them why you're here!
For our experienced NAIDC-ers (Grace, Sorcha, Ronan, Emma, Bree, Cara, Sally, Kennedy, Shannon):
1. You deserve to be here. You've worked so hard. You have proven year after year that you are not just competitors, but contenders. Don't forget that.
2. Don't let your goals get in the way of what you need to do to achieve those goals. Focus on one dance at a time, remember the areas that need to be sharper, more crossed, more turned out, more extended.
3. Wherever possible, take time to watch and support our dancers taking the national stage for the first time. They need your guidance as much as they need your silliness.
4. Your performance starts the minute you set foot on stage. Exude confidence even as you walk to your starting mark. Hold that presentation until the last bar. Nail it. And SMILE.
We are so incredibly proud of all the hard work and dedication we've seen over the past several months as you prepare to take the stage in Orlando from July 1-5. Take care of yourselves over this final week - get lots of rest, hydrate and eat well. Get prepared mentally as well as physically.
Watch our facebook and instagram feed for updates and photos from the competition. See you in Orlando!