My daughter, Kyla, competed in two separate feis events at the same location in West Bend on Saturday and Sunday.
That’s Kyla on the right and her best friend Eirinn on the left.
A feis (pronounced fesh) meaning “festival” is an Irish Dance Competition where dancers get the chance to compete against others in the same age group and level.
What a weekend for Kyla as she won five ribbons and a medal.
One of the biggest highlights had nothing to do with dancing. I told her to close her eyes and I shielded them, instructing her to come with me a few steps.
And then, 1-2-3, open!
Kyla’s 3rd grade teacher had come to watch Kyla on Sunday.
This particular feis was a “black and white” affair. Dancers did not have to don their wigs and dresses. The requirement was they had to wear black and white colors.
Kyla and Eirinn anxiously await scores to be posted.
Feis scores are very important because they determine when a dancer can advance in hopes of someday securing their very own “solo” dress, the glitzy multi-colored ones you often see.
Kyla has been participating in feis events for a year now, and though I’m no Irish dance expert I’ve experienced enough to know that the Irish dancers and their parents and friends are truly a family in every sense of the word. They work with one another, appreciate one another, support one another.
Here’s an example. During Sunday’s feis a mom of one of the dancers needed a black skirt. They had a white one but were hoping to score black. A different mom took it upon herself to go around and ask other moms if they brought an extra, all in an effort to help another family.
This is a competition, but I would emphasize it’s very friendly. Everyone gets along and has a wonderful time. However on Sunday I witnessed an unfortunate incident.
Kyla had six dances on Saturday and another six on Sunday. Everyone hopes to get all their dances done before judges and volunteers take their lunch break so they don’t have to stick around as long.
I decided to sit down in one of the row of seats at one of the stages to take a break myself. Some girls on the stage were practicing while they listened to Irish music on their phones held up to their ears. Despite the loud atmosphere I could still hear him, seated directly behind me, thanks to the trained ear all those years in radio gave me. The Father of the Year.
It was stunning and upsetting. He was talking sternly to his daughter.
At first I couldn’t quite make out what was being said because I wasn’t totally tuned in. And then…
“And that’s why your timing was off. You messed up your timing.”
There was a discussion about how he had talked to her about this before and if it were to continue her timing would always be “messed up.”
I stood up and walked into the aisle just behind the family to get a good look and saw a tall, overweight father, a depressed looking mother, and a young girl a bit younger than Kyla who was about to burst into tears.
For a brief moment a part of me wanted to say something to the effect of “is that really necessary?” or “I don’t think that’s going to help.”
But I stayed out of it so as not to escalate the situation and be told to mind my own business.
The young girl was out of her dance wear so her performances for the day were completed. Done with his chastising the father then said, “Let’s go,” and the three began to leave in complete silence.
My heart went out to that poor little girl. The over-reaction of her father will prevent her from having the best experience possible. Knowing me I will always second-guess myself for not intervening, even slightly. At the same time I’m not sure it would have helped.
Here’s hoping that someday the father realizes how wrong he truly was, sooner rather than later.