November 17, 2010
You’re ready. All of you. After months of learning, fixing, repeating and polishing, there’s not a lot more we can do to give you a good run at this year’s Oireachtas. Next year we will have more to do, but some things cannot be altered in the space of a few weeks. You’re as ready as you’re going to be, and I thank you for the work you’ve put in. I hope you know that you deserve to be there- maybe not because you’re our next regional champions, but because you have focused your efforts on these few days for many months.
You have high hopes. That is a blessing and a curse at the same time. You want the recall. You want the podium. You want it all. I’m glad you have set the bar high- it saves a lot of frustration when I’m trying to push you to achieve. The childlike attitude that you can do anything is something so precious, because sometimes it’s lost in the harsh realities of life. Keep whatever spark of that you have left.
But please remember, you can only control one-third of your competition. Here is what I mean. There are three elements of your competition that affect the outcome of this year’s Oireachtas:
1. The Judges. We discussed them last year, but please remember, that human side I revealed also has it’s well, Human side. These judges will do their best to be fair and observant and kind. But they also each have their preferences, which may or may not favor you. They each have a backlog of experience about the dancers that should go to Worlds. And they’re not omniscient. You know I wish they could see how hard you worked to get here, how good you looked at our last rehearsal. Today we both know there will be errors that we couldn’t have predicted, ones that don’t show you at your best. But today is all the judges have to go on.
2. The Competition. I’d love to say that you’re the dancers that have worked the hardest this year, have done the most improving. But we all have a very limited view of what has gone on behind closed doors in other dance schools. Remember for every dancer with a heart full of love and passion for this at our studio, there is at least another one in the studio of our competition. All the dancers who came here to compete are here having a very similar growing experience to you. They all worked hard, they all deserve to be here, and just like there is always someone smarter, prettier, more accomplished or richer than you, there is always a dancer who will be better than you. Maybe not at this Oireachtas, but somewhere in the world there is.
3. You. Don’t discount yourself. You are doing well. I’m proud of who you are and what you have done to get here. You are amazing dancers, good people and kind friends. I will be bursting with pride when you enter the stage, and I want to be the first to give you your pat on the back when you leave the stage. Nothing you do while you are onstage would make me change that.
We may be disappointed, but that’s okay. A point was made recently that a win at the Oireachtas doesn’t get you on the cover of a Wheaties box. You may laugh, but stop for a second. For every dancer I have, there are at least 500 musicians, 2000 actors and millions of athletes, all trying to get that amazing break in their field. The opportunity to try and be the best at what you do is an amazing human trait shared the world over. We should be proud that we have something to be passionate about, and take each little victory into our “big picture”. You may not recall, but you moved up one spot in the rankings. You may have not stood on the podium, but you recovered from that sprain and were brave enough to dance again. You may have not danced the way that you wanted to… but you danced.
Be grateful for the small moments. Treasure the journey and savor the excitement. Have a wonderful Oireachtas.