Feis Information 
This information was taken from a variety of sources on the Internet

What is a Feis?
(pronounced 'fesh', plural is Feiseanna)
Feis is a Gaelic word which, strictly translated, means festival. In our usage, it could more accurately be described as a competition.
What is a syllabus, and how do I get one?
A Syllabus is an entry form for a particular Feis. It lists the dances your child can enter, as well as the fee that will be charged to enter each dance. It tells you where to send your entry, when the deadline for entry is, directions to the Feis, and the Feis starting time. Each year, the N.A.F.C (North American Feis Committee) issues a feis schedule for all of North America.. It usually appears on the Internet before your teacher ever gets a copy. The name, address and phone number for the entry secretary or chairperson is sometimes listed. You can call the contact person for a syllabus. Once your dancer has participated in a particular Feis, he or she should automatically be on the next year's mailing list for that Feis. This does not mean you'll receive entry forms/syllabi for ALL Feiseanna automatically. It's always a good idea to review the schedule and call in advance to get on a mailing list.  It is best to enter well before the cutoff date, with the entry form provided on the syllabus. Sometimes there is a maximum number or entries accepted, and your entry will be returned when they have reached their limit. It is also wise to read the rules of competition on the back of each syllabus as they differ slightly from feis to feis.
How do I know what age group and what dances to enter my child in?
Dancing category "age" is determined by your child's age on January 1st of the current year. For example, a child who was born on 4/8/91 would be 10 years old on 1/1/02. This child would dance in the 'under eleven' category at every Feis during 2000, despite the fact that she would have turned eleven by the time the summer competitions were held. It is the age on January 1st that counts. Thus, all dancers born in 1991 would dance in the 'under 11' age group whether their birthday was in January or December.
For team (or 'figure') dances the group enters the age appropriate to the
oldest dancer in the group. Figure dance age groups tend to go in 2 year gaps, starting a the 'under 8' age group. A dancer may compete in a higher age group, but not a younger one. Additionally, figure dancers may only compete in one age group at a feis. For example, if a child is competing in 2 separate figure dances, they both must be in the same age category. For their solo dance competitions, they would still dance in their regular age category.

What is a "Step", and what steps does my child do in a competition?
A step is a series of movements leading first with the right foot, and then repeated leading with the left foot. Each step is danced to 16 bars of music. Two complete steps are required for each solo dance entered (solo-refers to the individual as opposed to team (figure) competitions). Dancers compete two at a time before the judge.
What do I do when I get to the feis?
The following steps represents the typical 'drill' for parents upon arriving at a feis:
- When you pay your admission to a Feis (and yes, parents have to pay to get in...!), you will receive a program....DO NOT LOSE IT!! Write your name on it!! Somewhere in the program booklet will be a listing of the schedule for each stage.
- Next, go to the registration desk and pick up your child's "number". Each competitor at a feis is issued their own number, which is printed boldly on an index card. On the back of the card will be a list of the competition numbers in which you entered your dancer. Check to make sure the correct competition numbers are listed. The index card is pinned or tied onto the front of the costume (with the bold 'competitor' number facing out), so that the judge can see it.
- Now, back to the program booklet....Look up your child's competition numbers (
not their competitor number) to determine on which stages your child will be dancing. It helps to circle your child's competitions with a red pen and write the name of the dance next to it. Keep track of those stages once the feis begins! Some competitions may have few or no entrants (such as some of the boys' categories) and can fly past in a flash. Others may have more that twenty kids in it, and could take a while. There are usually a first and a second call for competitors for each dance, but it's easy to miss these with the typically bad acoustics, so know where you want to go, and when you need to be there!
About the stages...
There are generally 5 or 6 stages (sometimes more), and each stage will hold a mixture of competitions for different age groups and categories. There is usually a poster board at each stage, listing the competitions to be danced there. A start time will not be listed. The competitions will continue one after the other, in the order shown on the sign (as well as in your program book). As each competition is completed, the stage manager crosses out that competition number, and circles the number of the competition currently underway. This way, it is easier to keep track of how soon your dancer may need to prepare for competition on that stage. You will notice that all competitions are typically assigned 3 digit numbers. For example, the under six beginner reel
may be #101, the under six beginner jig #102, and so on, going through all the levels of competition and categories.

What if my child is scheduled for two different dances on two different stages at the same time?
This is a rare occurrence (especially at the beginner level). Each stage has a stage manager (the person who is lining up the dancers just before the competitions). Inform the stage manager, and he/she will inform the judge. They will hold the competition for your dancer.
Do NOT talk to the judge!
What if I miss my competition?
If it was due to a scheduling problem, you can talk to a feis committee member (stage manager or chairperson). They may re-open the competition (rare!!), or allow your child to dance in an older age group. If it was your fault, you are out of luck.
How do I know if my child has won a prize?
This differs from feis to feis. There are two basic styles. Some Feiseanna have the judge watch the competition, tabulate the score while the dancers stand on stage and wait, and then hands out the prizes right there. The other method (and most common), is that other feis workers will take the score sheets from the judge, tabulate them, and post the winners on a board near the registration desk. This can sometimes take awhile. In this case, look for the competition number, and then your dancer's number to see if he or she won. You then sign for your medal. You usually need to show your dancer's number card to claim the prize.
How many medals are given out?
A feis is only obliged to award the number it stated in the syllabus. Most Feiseanna are very generous and can award up to 50% of the competitors. A lot depends on whether or not the judge feels the dancers deserve it.
How do I see my child's scores?
Once your child is completely finished competing, you may ask for a copy of your child's scores at the registration table. There may be small fee involved (usually $1 - $3 dollars). The scores, and hopefully some judges' comments, will usually be mailed out to you. Some Feiseanna will give you them on the spot. Many judges don't write comments. Don't take this to mean they have no opinion, they assuredly do! For some dances, particularly reels, there isn't always enough time to watch the dancers (2 at a time) AND write a legible comment. You may see a one word comment ('timing'...'placement'...'toes out'). Most judges feel it is more important to keep their eyes on the dancer as opposed to the scoring sheet.

What are the costume requirements for a Feis?
Plan on wearing your school costume, bloomers, poodle socks, and ghillies. The Irish tradition of dance also suggests curled hair for the girls, so your dancer looks like an Irish Colleen!. Boys wear collar-less dress shirts, black dress pants.
Do I REALLY have to curl my child's hair?
Not if your child is a boy, of course! It is not an official rule that the girls' hair be curled, but it is rather standard in Irish dance competitions. The judge is looking for a neat appearance: neat hair, clean socks, clean uniform, etc., and will deduct points for a sloppy appearance. Some dancers purchase wigs or hair pieces.
How does my child "move up" to the next category?
You will usually notice these rules listed in the rules section of any Feis syllabus. Generally speaking, moving up is dependent upon the category. Beginners, advanced beginners, novice, and prizewinner, all have slightly different rules governing moving up. One important thing to note is that your dancer does not need to move up until the following feis season. So, if she qualifies to move up at her first feis, she will likely remain in the same category until Jan. 1 of the following year (at the discretion of the dance instructor).
On Jan 1st, both the age and competition level are determined. At this point, moving up is not an option; it is required for advanced beginner, novice, and prizewinner. However, moving up from the prizewinner category into Preliminary championships is determined by the dance instructor, based upon the dancers ambitions, as well as her prior competitive history. This is quite a commitment on the part of everyone concerned, and will require that the dancer practice quite intensely - probably every day!
What is the Oireachtas?
Pronounced "O-rock-tus", this is the Eastern Regional Irish Dance Championships. A solo dancer must qualify in this competition in order to go on to the World Championships. It is held in Philadelphia, on Thanksgiving weekend. There is also a National Competition held at a different site each year in July. These events are not like an ordinary feis. Entry is by invitation of the dance teacher only. The dancer must be committed to practicing on a daily basis for the 2-3 months preceding the competition and have had a solid record of winning. These events are championship level competitions. Because of the time-table to reach championship level competition (4 - 5 years), younger dancers at the prizewinner level may be invited.

Yikes!!! This sounds like a lot!! Why would I want to do this?
First of all, most of the kids enjoy the competitions. They get to see other children dance, make new friends, practice their art and are then rewarded for it! Unlike many other forms of dance, ours is one with an end goal, tangible results, positive feedback, and a sense of pride in the dancer's accomplishment. Many parents of Irish dancers see these Feiseanna as a training ground for bigger lessons in life, such as self discipline, building self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment, winning AND losing gracefully, and learning to work as a team towards a common goal, to name a few. Some families ease into it, and some jump in both feet first, it's up to you.
Competition Categories
Dancers compete against dancers their own age and their own level. Category levels are determined for each dance individually. For example, a dancer may compete in adv. beginner jig, but a novice reel if she has qualified to do so. A competition with less than 5 dancers entered does not force the winner to advance. Your status is determined on Jan 1 of each year and remains constant for that year. As stated earlier, dancers must perform 2 steps, and dance 2 dancers at a time.
The
Beginner level is open to boys and girls who have never taken Irish dancing lessons from a registered teacher prior to September 1 of the previous year. A beginner must move into the Advanced Beginner category the next year. They wear soft shoes. Advanced steps, such as a treble jig, are not allowed.
The
Advanced Beginner level is open to dancers who no longer qualify for beginner level, and have never won a first, second, or third in a specific dance at a feis in a prior calendar year. If they win a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, they are required to move up to the novice category, in that specific dance, the next calendar year. Advanced beginner dances are limited to the reel, light jig, slip jig, treble jig, and traditional hornpipe.
The
Novice level is for dancers who have placed first, second, or third as an Advanced Beginner in that particular dance in a prior calendar year. In order to move out of the Novice level and into the Prizewinner category, a dancer must have won a first place in that dance.
Prizewinner is for dancers who have placed first at the novice level in a particular dance in a prior calendar year. In order to advance to preliminary championship, a dancer must have won first place in both a hard shoe and a light shoe (not light jig) prizewinner competition.
Preliminary Championship - to enter this category, a dancer must win a first place in both a light shoe AND a hard shoe dance at the Prizewinner level. You must win 2 first places to move up.
Championship - Dancer must win 2 first places in Preliminary Championship.

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More Info: What to Bring to a Feis