This requires some background.
March 25, 2009, 10:45 pm.
My darling wife, Jennifer, at first objected to me posting these pictures until I explained that no one gives birth looking like Melania Trump or Marilyn Monroe.
Of course, Kyla’s extremely Irish grandmother, Audrey Fischer came to visit wearing a sweater imported from Ireland.
Mom, who was extremely Irish, died the following January. But her Irish influence remained alive, right up through today.
We’d take baby Kyla to Milwaukee’s Irish Fest where I’ve been a volunteer now for more than 25 years.
Kyla would see the Irish dancers in their finery on the grounds and openly wished she could be one someday.
We never pushed her but she told us she wanted to try dancing solely because of what she saw at Irish Fest.
So we enrolled her at Cashel Dennehy School of Irish Dance. Kyla’s baptism by fire came in a Summer Sampler course that would train her just enough to be on the stage in front of thousands at Irish Fest.
Here are some photos of a much younger Kyla in 2013.
Kyla continued her Summer Samplers for another three seasons and then started full time classes in September 2016. Lesson after lesson after lesson (about six month’s worth) led to the school’s traditional welcoming event for all the new dancers, the Beginner Debut.
In February 2017, Kyla found herself dancing proudly onstage with a teacher because all the other dancers had already performed with a partner. So Kyla, with no partner of her own, was joined by one of her instructors Alyssa Harling who, because of her skills and love of high heels, danced with Kyla in monster stilettos.
Kyla’s school (Cashel Dennehy) and others can compete all over the Midwest in what’s called a feis, an Irish dance competition.
In various dance style compositions the dancers move from “beginner” to “novice” status. Once in novice status the dancers must achieve 1st place in a competition in order to go from the school dance costume to the opportunity to purchase their very own solo dress with all the bling, color, etc.
It’s quite an incentive. Victory doesn’t happen overnight.
The Badger State Feis took place Saturday, July 20, 2019.
Kyla and her dance friends from Cashel Dennehy did OK, but no solo dresses.
The next day, Sunday, July 21, 2019, the Cashel gods, and probably Grandma Audrey were smiling down, big time.
First, Kyla’s partner in last November’s Mid-America Oireachtas ceili competition ( a massive regional event) in Louisville, Mallory Thomae, broke through the ice with a 1st. Mallory captured six awards on the day.
Not long after Mallory won her 1st place Kyla performed in the treble jig.
The picture of the scoreboard every dancer wants to see.
Another Cashel 1st place.
Another ticket to go get that glittery solo dress!
Kyla won a 1st, two 2nd places, and one 3rd place finish. She was amazing! And on her Irish grandmother’s birthday weekend!
Kyla and Mallory after their 1st place finishes.
Are you keeping score?
Mallory nabs a 1st.
So does Kyla.
And then came a long 50-minute lunch break.
More dances were still scheduled. More dancers had to worry through stomach butterflies.
What about Kyla’s dear friend, Erinn O’Neill?
Erinn had another dance after lunch.
To the scoreboard we go.
You wait and you wait in anticipation. When will they post the results? Please post them, please.
Erinn’s the girl in front, next to Kyla.
Yes, it is a magical moment, a dream come true.
That’s what it means to know you’re getting a solo dress.
Now the hunt begins. At each feis there are dozens of used dresses being sold. Irish dance moms from all over the country and even overseas are on Facebook posting pictures of dresses they’re selling. We did see some dresses we liked, but measurements weren’t quite right or they didn’t fit properly. So we kept looking and hoping.
Finally a dress looked promising. It was from another Cashel family, this one in Madison. Kyla tried it on last week and the dress needed some, not much alteration. Jennifer and Kyla took it to an Irish dance dress expert. The dress needed to be “let out” just a tad in the back. Could it be done and fit?
Kyla got the good news Thursday (yesterday).
Well worth the wait!
Here’s Kyla modeling her first solo dress that is now being altered.
This is one of the happiest moments of our little girl’s life. She will take both her school dress and solo dress when she and her Cashel teammates compete in The 2019 Mid-America Oireachtas will take place in Louisville, Kentucky on November 29, 30 and December 1, 2019.
So that’s our big news. Our family is overjoyed.
As for those of you who thought…