Irish Dancing WITH JOHN EGAN
John Egan at the Trainor Feis in Chingford where everyone’s thoughts were about World Championships
Once again the annual Trainor Feis lived up to its reputation of being one of the most popular feiseanna in the southern region and in the country. It undoubtedly merits the sobriquet of being the ‘supercharged kick-start to the feis season’.
There was no evidence that dancers or their parents were dispelled by the cold, wet and windy weather throughout day one of the 16th Trainor Open Feis. I have always regarded the selfless dedication of parents, particularly the mums, as the most laudable aspect of competitive Irish dancing.
Surely there must be many parents out there who are tempted to have a well-earned Saturday or Sunday morning lie-in instead of a dawn rising followed by a long journey to the feis by car or public transport, not to mention the several journeys made during the week to accompany their kids to evening dance classes. But they flocked here in their hundreds from several of the England regions as well as from Scotland, Ireland and mainland Europe.
The popularity of the Trainor Feis is understandable. The Chingford Foundation School is an excellent venue with three spacious halls that are large enough to cope with the very large cohorts of novice, primary, intermediate and championship dancers who flock to this winter feis every year, where a hot breakfast awaits those who don’t have time for cooking before leaving home.
But more important is its reputation for excellent organisation and timetabling, due mainly to the unflappable work of dance teachers Bernadette, Debbie and Katrina Trainor, aided by their own family members and those of their pupils.
Only those who are involved in some way with the organisational demands of feis logistics will know of the work that goes on behind the scenes leading up to the day that dancing starts, when musicians, adjudicators, scores enumerator, parking stewards, caterers, stage managers, venue staff and a host of other functionaries are in place to ensure the show gets under way and runs smoothly throughout the weekend.
The logistics here involved bringing together nine adjudicators from other England regions, from Ireland and USA, and four musicians from Belfast and London.
Perhaps the least visible player in the whole team is the scores enumerator who is continually running from hall to hall in between dance rounds in order to update his computerised results so that awards can be expedited in a timely fashion without incurring downtime. Indeed the whole timetable could be said to be at the mercy of this individual whose multitasking skills are always under challenge.
The timing of the Trainor Feis in the annual dance calendar is such that it provides an opportunity in the weeks leading up to the world championships for qualifiers to have a rigorous outing in which to perfect their skills and to hone and polish any new steps. It also gives them an opportunity to eye-up the opposition in their age group.
There were many familiar faces on the championship podium over the weekend and I have my fingers crossed that they will have benefited from their Trainor outing and that their aspirations for podium places in Dublin will become a reality.