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Posted on May 7, 2012 in General News

First Feis FAQ

What is a FEIS?

A feis (pronounced fesh) is an Irish Dance competition with dancers from local school and regional school. Dancers compete in individual dances as well as in team dances. There are different levels ranging from beginner to open championship.

What would my child dance?

First time dancers all start at the BEGINNER Level, in their respective age group. Age is based on the age your child was as of Jan. 1, of that year.
For first year dancers who started in September, and have never done a feis, some of your dancers could do the “first feis” or “Tir Na Nog” competitions. Just ask your teacher whether Beginner or “first feis” is right for your dancer. The difference is that in Beginner dancers needs to execute 2 steps per dance: light jig/ reel/ slip jig and in the first feis category dancers need to just do one step.

What should my child wear for shoes?

  • The dancers must have the proper shoes, soft shoes (or ghillies) or black ballet shoes are fine.
  • The dancers must have the proper socks called poodle socks.

Does my child need a wig?

No, but one can be ordered. If not using the wig, hair must be curled in ringlets and pulled back off the face on the top of the head. Bow or headband matching whatever the dancer is wearing would be appropriate.

Wig: Ask your teacher for the wig name and website were to purchase one.  Make sure you say your wig is for our school so you can get the discount.

Curling Hair:

  • Wash and dry hair the night before the feis.
  • Gather hair from the ears up to the top of the head and put in a ponytail.
  • Start with the hair in the top ponytail and take small sections of hair, spray with hair gel and roll in a sponge roller.
  • Once the top is done then start with the top of the head and roll the hair in rows.
  • You will need many rollers. (For a 5 year old, up to 40!)
  • The next day, unroll one by one. Spray lightly. add a bow and you are ready to go.

Does my child need a costume?

  • For a first time feis, in beginner level, you can wear a skirt and blouse and be fine.
  • We have a skirt and shawl that can be ordered for any age dancer, that would be appropriate for the feis and for the parades. Make sure you put that you are ordering for the COYLE SCHOOL in Philadelphia, PA and that you need the skirt and shawl.
  • To participate in the parades in March, all dancers must have either the school costume and skirt/ shawl.
  • The school costume can be bought used. Check our email updates for lists as well as the website.
    (To order a new school costume, you will need to talk to your teacher.)
  • The skirt and shawl is very appropriate for all ages!

How do I register for the feis?

  • Different competitions use different forms of registration. First go to our Mid-Altantic Feisanna page for a list of local competitions. Feis in green are recommended. From there you can get the website for each feis.
  • You can also visit and look at the schedule of competitions if you want to find one farther away.
  • Go to that feis website and see how you need to register. Most competitions use or There are still a few that you will need to mail in your registration.
  • It is always a good idea to print out a copy of the syllabus for yourself.

What to bring:

  • Costume
  • Bloomers
  • Dance shoes
  • Poodle socks/sock glue
  • Wig/headband/ large bobby pins/brush/comb/hairbands/large safety pins
  • Chair(s)
  • Competitor card/card holder or hole punch/ribbon to secure card
  • Directions to the venue
  • Stage schedule with competitions highlighted
  • Food – make sure that you have something for your dancer to eat before dancing. They need to have fuel in their tanks if they are to perform properly – bagel, muffin, crackers, etc.

The night before:

  • Print stage schedule and syllabus – go to the feis or dancing school’s website to get both. Or, if registration was done via feisweb – and view your entry & competition numbers, though they won’t give a stage schedule. These are also sites to find info on upcoming feis.
  • Print directions to the location
  • Print competitor card – if offered by feisweb. Some feis will send you a card mail, or you can always pick up your card the day of the feis – usually near the entrance.
  • Estimate when your child will dance. For example:
    If there are a total of 20 dancers in the groups before her first competition…. 20 x 1.5 minutes per dance = 30 minutes 30 minutes divided by 2 dancing at a time = 15min – so you would have 15 minutes after the start of the feis before your dancer would dance (ours feis starts at 9 AM for grades, others start as early as 8 AM – check the syllabus for each feis).
    This is just an estimate, and it’s possible the stages will run late or early. So if your competitions are early in the day (beginners and advanced beginner are usually first at most feis) – you need to plan to be there first thing. Our feis have dancers from beginners thru prizewinner dance 2 at a time, but other feis dance 3 at a time – so you need to compute accordingly. The syllabus will state how many will dance at a time for each level.

Morning of the feis – at home:

  • If you curl hair – do it the night before. Use a hair net in the morning to keep curls
  • Wig: Prep hair/headband first w/ Coyle costume/secure wig before you leave
  • Dress – if you have a dress – bring it / don’t wear it in the car/ take care of your investment. If skirt – put it on at home unless you have a long drive
  • Be sure you have all the list above in the car when you leave

Arrive at feis:

  • Arrive 30-60 minutes before her first dance. You don’t want to be rushed! Most feis open the doors 60 minutes prior to the start of the feis. Sometimes they start late….so be patient.
  • Find the stage(s) on which your dancer will be competing– if possible, set-up camp close by.
  • Pick up competitor card – if needed
  • Check the stage to see what competition #s they are on. Each stage will have a display of the competition #s that will dance on that stage and which ones are coming up. The completed competitions will be crossed out.
  • WARM UP – have your dancer go through their steps before they dance and have them stretch. They will dance better and be more confident if they have run through their steps.
  • Take care of any last minute prep with hair, glue socks etc.. Put dress on before she goes to line up for her competitions. Don’t forget to secure her competitor card – dancers must have that.

Line up & Dance:

  • Go to the stage about 2 competitions prior to your competition, ready to dance. Then wait until the stage monitor calls for your competition. Kids – your card will say which competitions you are in, so the stage monitor will look at the back and cross off the dance you are competing in before you start each dance.
  • Line up to dance – kids: be aware the judges are looking at you the entire time. At the beginner level (especially younger ones) there will be someone at the stage that will guide the dancers and count for them so they start their dances on time to the music.

After they’re finished dancing:

  • Check the placement wall or board to see if your child placed. There will be an area designated with signs directing you to “Awards”. At our feis – it’s outside the auditorium. Only competitor numbers are listed, no names, and the judges usually place 3 dancers but sometimes there are ties for each. This usually takes a little time before it’s posted, maybe 30 minutes.
  • If your child placed, pick up awards at the designated table – you will need the competitor card to claim your award.
  • Marks: some feis provide marks at the feis, others email them to you directly (ours emails them). These are the actual numbers that define how the judge graded your dancer, and often there are comments that give advice on how to improve. It’s good to show them to your teacher at the next class.


Eileen, Colleen, Patsy, Nellie & Grace