National qualifiers from the Harney Academy of Irish Dance in Massachusetts
checking in after the flight to Nashville from Providence!
photo Feis America LLC

Hello from Nashville, Tennessee and the Gaylord Opryland Hotel where the 2011 North American Irish Dancing Championships (NAIDC) have started today! Hosted by the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America (IDTANA), this year's event honors past presidents of the organization.

Each year, competitive dancers from the seven regions of the IDTANA who have either achieved Open Champion status or qualified through a regional championship ("Oireachtas") vie for coveted North American titles, along with a number of competitors from abroad. Each dancer in every age group (age as of January 1, 2011) will each dance two rounds - a light shoe and a heavy shoe - before five adjudicators from Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Girls and boys dance in separate competitions, and some large solo competitions are divided by birthdate.

Dancers are accompanied by live music performed side-stage by renowned feis musicians from around the world. After each round has been danced and scored, results are tabulated and those dancers scoring in the top fifty percent of each group will be recalled. Each of these immediately then dances a third and final round, known as a contemporary set. This is a dance performed in heavy shoes and the steps and timing vary by dancer. The final round scores are then incorporated with the first two rounds' scores, and overall placement is determined for each of the recalled dancers.

At awards each evening, all of the recalled dancers in each group are called on-stage to receive a placement. The small percentage who have qualified to compete at the 2012 Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne (World Irish Dancing Championships) are acknowledged first, but the top placements are withheld until all of the placements for all of the recalled dancers are acknowledged, in reverse order. After all of the day's solo competitions have been awarded, the audience is treated to the traditional Parade of Champions when each new North American Champion performs a step on the stage.

Today's competitions are Ladies under 19, Ladies under 20, Girls under 10, Girls under 15 (a and b), Men under 20 and Senior Men 20 & Over.

This evening's awards will include the presentation of the IDTANA 2011 Scholarship Winners. The July/August issue of Feis America, North America's favorite Irish dancing magazine, features our traditional spread with photos, achievements and college programs for each of the scholars. We look forward to honoring these amazing scholar athletes on future blog posts here on Go Feis! The Irish Dance Blog.

While Feis America has been expressly prohibited from posting live commentary and real-time results, we will celebrate all of the IDTANA dancers, teachers and families throughout the next six days with photo galleries and interviews. We invite our friends to Tweet good wishes and congratulations using #NAIDC2011 and @FeisAmerica on Twitter, which feed posts here to Feis America on Irish Central.

Be sure to find me for a free t-shirt, or wait and visit the Feis America on Irish Central table on Monday, July 4th at NAN for photos, video ops, t-shirt giveaways and a chance to win a trip to Ireland!
Subscribe to Feis America magazine TODAY for full print NAIDC coverage in the September/October issue!