This weekend, New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel at will be filled with around 1500 Irish dancers from all over the world for the first-ever Big Apple Feis.
This is the first time in over 25 years that a feis - pronounced “fesh,” a Gaelic world literally meaning "festival" - has been held in New York City.
Feiseanna (the plural of "feis") have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity over the past decade and the Big Apple Feis is a great chance to see what all the excitement is about.
The Feis promotes Irish pride through a two-day dance competition, complete with musical performances, vendors from New York and abroad specializing in Celtic culture, raffles, and a ceremony honoring those who have dedicated their lives to Irish dance.
This year’s honorees include Anne and Sheila Reid of the Reid School of Irish Dancing ands Anna O’Sullivan of the O’Sullivan School of Irish Dancing Class. Anne and Sheila will be pulling double duty during the Feis, attending as honorees and serving as judges later in the competition.
Musical acts featured at the “Big Apple Feis” will include Mark Arrington, Brian Glynn & Conor McGuirk, Michelle and Chris McLoughlin, Patricia Morrissey and Annemarie Acosta-Williams.
Acosta-Williams is the director of the Acotsa School of Irish Music and Dance and also serves as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where she teaches Irish music and dance.
Additionally, Saturday and Sunday will feature a Special Themed Charity Dance.
Entry is only $20 per dancer and all ages groups are welcome. Irish dance attire is not required and all costumes should reflect the theme of the dance (themes are specified on the Web site).
All proceeds will go to Project Children, an organization that seeks to promote peace in Northern Ireland by educating its youth in religious tolerance. Project Children has also been working with Habitat For Humanity, focusing their efforts specifically in areas of Northern Ireland most affected by violence.
The Big Apple Feis will take place a week prior to the World Oireacthas Rince Na Cruinne 2009. The Oireacthas is considered the most prestigious competition and this year is being held a quick train ride away in Philadelphia.
The Big Apple Feis will give these soon to be world champions a chance to see New York City’s Irish dance community, as well as an opportunity to practice their routine once more before going on the World Competition.
Three Championship Stages will be taking place on Saturday the 28th; Sunday will include all Adult Competitions and Championships as well as the All Grades Championships.
And IrishCentral will be covering the event right the way through the weekend - so for results, pictures and stories, check out IrishCentral for all your feis news.
Moya McGloin ,15, during the launch of the World Irish Dancing Championships, at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, IrelandPA Archive/PA Photos