What is a “Feis”?
The word "Feis" (pronounced “fesh”) comes from a Gaelic word meaning "festival". Over the years, the FEIS has become just a dance competition, however, many feises, such as the Great Lakes Feis, are trying to return to their roots and include more of the festival activities. That is why many feises, including the Great Lakes Feis, are including music, art, and baking to the dance competitions. Make sure to see all of these!
Admission and registration
When you come to the Lansing Center, you will
need to purchase an admission bracelet for all the non-competing members of
your group over the age of 16. These
cost $7 a piece, and are sold by the
Next, the competitors go to the registration table which is set up in the main hallway area. The lines are set up by last name. Competitors will receive an index card, and a stage assignment list. Once they have this, they should move away from the registration area to let others pick up their material.
At this point you want to read the index card. The front is the competitor’s number (or dancer number), and the back lists all registered competitions and corresponding stage assignments. If everything is correct, proceed to the dance hall.
Set up camp
In the dance hall you will notice all the “stages” and vendors. Between them is a lot of empty room. You are welcomed (encouraged) to bring a picnic blanket and comfortable folding chairs to set up as your “camp” in this empty area. When feising, you spend a bit of time waiting between competitions, so camping makes the experience much more pleasant. Please note that some areas are marked off with tape as “walking” passages and these must be kept clear at all times. If possible, try to camp near the stage where your dancer is competing.
Get your bearings
After settling in, you will want to read the stage assignment list and figure out when exactly your competitor is actually competing. During the day competitions may be moved to different stages to move things along. So it is very important to listen carefully to the announcements during the day. Also, some of these competitions have only a few competitors and so finish quickly - so it is also important to keep track of what competition is running on each stage. To help you keep track each stage will have two signs: “Now” and “Next”. This shows you what competition is on stage now, and which will come up next.
Before getting started, make sure you are ready to compete. Check your shoes - are they tied neatly and tightly (you don’t want your laces to come undone!), check your costume, girls: make sure your wig is on tight. Finally, make sure your index card is attached to your costume. At the registration tables, they have string and pins for you to attach the cards if you forgot yours. Make sure the card is at your waist, in front, and is clearly visible. Keep your card neat while you wear it, because you will need your card to claim your medals and ribbons!
As soon as your competition is marked on the “Next” sign, the competitors needs to go up to the stage monitor and check in. Get in line (don’t push or crowd the stage monitor), present your card, and once the monitor has check-marked your number, they will ask you to sit with all the other competitors for that dance. Be sure that when you sit down after check-in, you are not sitting next to someone from your dance school. It makes it easier to hide your mistakes if you are slightly off. It also doesn’t show off the fact that you may not kick as high as your friend!
Please do not try to check in before your competition is marked on the “Next” sign. Also, don’t wait to the last minute to check in, because once a competition has started, you will no longer be allowed to participate. The stage monitors will not wait for stragglers - so get to your stage on time!
Then the competition begins: all the dancers line up at the back of the stage, and face the judge. Either the judge or the stage monitor will let you know whether you are dancing two or three dancers at a time. Once the music starts, the first dancers will move forward and begin dancing (in groups of 2 or 3 depending on the instructions). You are required to dance two steps - each on the right and left foot. Because everyone is from different schools, you will all be dancing different steps - but you will all be doing the same type of dance.
Parents: If something happens and you think the judge or musician should be notified, please DO NOT TALK TO THE JUDGE OR MUSICIAN. Just go up to the stage monitor - only the stage monitor is allowed to talk to the judge and musician. Also, avoid talking or signaling your child while they are on stage – they are nervous enough – they need to focus on what they are doing!
After completing your two steps, it is polite to bow to the judge and then to the musician, and then quickly get back in line at the back of the stage. You then just stand there until all the dancers in your competition have performed. After the last dancer is done, everyone should remain in line, until the judge dismisses you. Everyone bows together one last time to the judge, and then the stage monitor will tell you which way to walk off the stage and you can return to your parents.
Now the exciting part begins. In the dance hall, there is an area marked “Results”. There will be a lot of posters on the wall, and on the left side of each poster will be listed all the competitions of the day. About 30 minutes after your competition is done, someone will write the dance numbers of the winners on the poster. They can mark up to 5 places, and often there are many ties. Only the dancer number will be marked (no names). If you see your number marked on the poster, you have won!
Picking up awards
You then want to go to the “Awards” area right next to “Results” and pick up your medal. Stand in line. The person will ask to see your dancer card – make sure to clearly show your number. They will then give you your medal!
Individual scores and judges comments
After all your competitions are completed,
return to the RESULTS area and ask for your “Individual Scores”. They are
End of the day
When you are done with your dances, don’t miss out on watching some of the other dancers compete. It is always fun to see the different styles and steps all the schools have. And make sure to cheer and clap for all the dancers at the end!
And make sure to see the vendors who sell all sorts of goods to make dancing and feising easier. You can find shoes, socks, sock glue, hair nets, wigs. And to remember your feising experience, t-shirts will be sold that can also be personalized.
As soon as you are done with all your competitions you can go home. Don’t forget to get all your stuff! And if you can, wait to see your last results - you just may have won one more medal!
Above all, remember to have fun!