Saturday, October 01, 2005

Emillie the Dancer


So, my two other girls were highly miffed that I hadn't posted any photos of their stuff/accomplishments along with those of Alex's, and, as I promised to do so, I shall, starting with Miss Emillie, as we call her.

Em is the third of three daughters. She had a hard start -- the other two were pretty rough on her. Once, while they were all in the bath playing, the other two, being 2 and 5 and short on attention like most kids that age, decided to 'put the baby down,' meaning they decided they weren’t holding her anymore and just sort of dropped her into the water. They also used to like to draw on her with permanent markers and use her for their Fisher Price inspired medical tests.

Emillie is highly athletic. At the ripe age of 18 months, she was already swinging upside down on our swing set’s trapeze. People used to comment on how muscled up she was, even then. Good genetics.

Em took up Irish dancing at about age 8. She originally danced with the Possak School in Calgary. At the time, my girls were in dance for the exercise and the social part of it, not to compete. Sadly, when the school abruptly changed their focus from "come one, come all," to mandatory competition, we were forced to leave, me being a single parent and not able to fund the cost of competition at all.

However, about a year later, Emillie joined Scoil Ard Na Griene, which is the longest-established Irish dance school in Calgary. It has produced, to my knowledge, 4 RiverDance dancers and a whole slew of Worlds and Nationals winners.

Joining the dance school was really serendipitous for Emillie. She'd had a rough go in elementary due to her being so talkative and social (read: not the type to put her head down, do rote work and never question authority. It isn't in her nature).

Em ultimately began competing with Ard Na Griene and has advanced quite quickly. There are a bunch of levels to go through: beginner, advanced beginner, novice, prize winner, preliminaries and open. She has a competition over the Thanksgiving weekend which will probably see her advance into preliminaries, which will also allow her to go to Vancouver and try to qualify for Nationals.

Last April, Jason, I, Alex and Emillie went for a combined holiday/competition tour to Montreal and Ottawa. There are two, back-to-Back Feis (pronounced 'fesh') down there.

In the months before we left, and on the very good advice of Emillie's instructor, Sally Houston, Emillie began designing her solo dress. Dancers typically have two dresses: a team or school dress, which they use for figures (group dances) and their solo dress, which they compete in otherwise.

Emillie’s design was a complicated graffiti pattern that I never thought could be made. However, I happened on Kim McCormack, who is both angel and wonderful designer. Her first reaction to Em’s design was “How cool. That’s going to look great.” Not impossible after all. With Kim’s extensive help and direction, the dress became a reality.

Em did really well in Montreal and Ottawa, coming away with 11 placements in the top three and four firsts in those, and a bunch of new friends to compliment her awards.

As of this September, Emillie has been volunteering with her school, teaching the little kids or the newer girls. She’s contemplating a career in sports medicine and so considering Kinesiology as a degree, but also beginning to look into what it will take for her to become a bona fide Irish dance teacher. Her mom is rooting for a three year stint with RiverDance.

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