Online Feis – Insight from an Adjudicator • Feis Arlíne – Léargas ó Moltóir

Late last year, CLRG passed the roll out of Regional Online Feisanna. Over the last few weeks several regions have ran their events and  LuAnnO’Rourke Boyd ADCRG gives us an insight in to her first experience of adjudicating online.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your dancing history

I grew up dancing since the age of six in New York.   I competed at the Mid Atlantic Oireachtas, North American Championships and Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne.  I passed my TCRG in 1995 and my ADCRG in 2007.  I started my own school, O’Rourke Irish Dancers, in 1996 and had much success bringing my dancers to regional, national and interntional competitions.  In 2018 I merged my school with the world renowned Doherty Petri School of Irish Dance.  I have judged all over the United States and Cananda and have been fortunate to have judged Regional Championships, The North American Championships and Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne.

Which online event did you adjudicate and was it an event based on a large stage or a small stage?

I judged the RCCEA (Europe & Asia) regional on line feis.  Dancers had a choice of both small or large stage. 

Did you find the dancers performance was restricted by taking part in the small stage event?

I did feel performances were restricted in the small stage event but that is to be expected.  I give the dancers a great deal of credit for participating and going for it.  It’s important to note that the “small stage” competitors were not competing against the “large stage” competitors.  In times like these I’m glad they had the option and the opportunity whether their stage was large or small.  Adjudicators are aware of the challenges dancers face when they are on a small stage and it’s amazing to see them adapt. Kudos to all of them!

How did you find adjudicating online, is it a lot more work than a regular in person event?

I really enjoyed juding the on line feis.  I thought the region did an excellent job dividing up the amount of work each adjudicator was assigned.  I personally judged about 215 videos and I had from Friday to Sunday to complete my assignments.  I spent a good deal of time on Friday judging the  majority of the competitions I was assigned and I finished up in a few hours on Saturday.   I enjoyed that the dancers were one at a time and I was not rushed between dancers to scribble comments.  I took my time to write what I hope were clear and constructive comments.  I also loved the fact that the QuickFeis system had some common comments available for us to “tick” off. 

Do you feel that the Online Events are a suitable replacement for in person events during the COVID-19 pandemic

I absolutely feel the Online Feis is a suitable replacement for in person feisanna during the pandemic.  Seeing all the positive posts on FaceBook afterwards from the teachers about how happy their students were to have something to work towards and getting such great feedback was very rewarding.  It was also rewarding as an adjudicator to have work after so much time.  We are all affected by the downward spiral the pandemic has had on us. 

Is there is anything else you would like to comment on with regards to Online Feis / Adjudicating?

I was pleasantly surprised at how well organized  and easy to use the on-line platform was.  I personally feel that this pandemic will change the way we do things moving forward and we need to embrace technology and change so that we can continue to keep the dancers, parents, teachers and adjudicators engaged.  So many of our schools have suffered tremendous loss in numbers of dancers dropping out during this time due to lack of motivation.  It’s on line events like the digital feis that needed to be implemented.  There were over 700 entries in the RCCEA on line feis and one of the teachers there told me they would never achieve those numbers at an “in person” feis because of the distance between the countries.  What an amazing opportunity for those dancers to compete against each other and dance in front of judges they may otherwise have never had the opportunity to see in person.