Legacy Dance Competition- 2014

022This past weekend was the Legacy Dance Competition.

It was held at what used to be called the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, but is now called the Ames Center. It is still my favorite venue for competitions. It’s got great seating, great acoustics, it’s a beautiful building, and in the summer, has an awesome courtyard out front. Yes, the courtyard is there in the winter too, but there are no fountains on for the kids to play in. We did luck out though, in that we had beautiful weather on Sunday. Kids were out playing in the courtyard in shorts and t-shirts, while having a snowball fight. It was both bizarre and awesome at the same time!

Legacy earned big points in my book for being almost exactly on time on Friday night!! I appreciated that. My daughter danced her small group first (at 7 something PM). Her group then danced their contemporary, tap, and finally, jazz dances all between 9 and 9:45 PM. Awards were around 10:30. It ended up being a very late night to say the least.

Grace’s small group was given an Elite Gold (though, I thought they should have received a Platinum score). They scored 8th over all for Intermediate Junior Small Groups. I sometimes wonder what the judges see or don’t see, but I guess that’s why I’m a Dance Mom, and not a Judge. Grace’s Contemporary, Tap, and Jazz dances all received a Platinum score, and scored 6th, 5th, and 2nd overall respectively (in the Intermediate Junior Large Group division). YAY!

We did not attend the competition on Saturday. My daughter was not dancing that day, and we had other things going on.

275Sunday was a different story, as far as scheduling goes. The Lake Area dancers danced their very first ever production number somewhere around a half hour late. By the time they got to awards, they were about an hour behind schedule. That made for a very long day (since we went early in the morning to watch the youngest dancers from our studio). The production number scored Platinum, and took 1st over all for Intermediate Teen Production.

The upside of long competition days, is that we get to see some amazing dances from other studios. Many of the studios that were at this competition were familiar (such as Woodbury Dance Center, DelMonico Dance, Jam Hops, and so many more), but there were a few I hadn’t previously heard of (such as Miss Melinda’s Dance Studio and Short Dance Studio). It’s always fun to see new studios at competitions.

Overall, I really like this competition. We always knew awards were coming on stage, because they would play “The Wobble”, and dancers and staff members would all be dancing on the stage. I liked the amount of time they spent at the awards ceremonies talking to the dancers (especially soloists and top placing dances). I heard some parents talking about how they wished they didn’t spend so much time talking to each one, but they worked hard, give them a moment to shine! Yes, awards took longer than at some competitions, but I enjoyed them.

I also liked that in the program (which was $10, about average), they had a place to write in the awards and placements. It made the awards ceremonies easy to follow along with, and to be able to take notes. Yes, I am one of those moms. I take notes on scores, placements, etc. No, I rarely ever look at them again once my blog post is written about the competition, but I enjoy doing it, nonetheless.

My main criticism about this competition, is one I’m pretty sure I have had about other competitions. When they are playing music while the judges are talking during the awards ceremony, they need to turn it down! It makes it difficult to hear/understand, and it’s very distracting when the music that is supposed to be “background” is equal if not louder than the judge’s microphone. The focus during this time should be on  the judges and awards, not the music.

One competition down, 3 to go… on to the next one!

Why Rhinestone?

My daughter's tap costume. It almost doubled the weight due to all the rhinestones, but made it look so much better! :-)

My daughter’s tap costume. It almost doubled the weight due to all the rhinestones, but it makes a difference! :-)

I have had many people ask why we bother rhinestoning our dancer’s costumes. I’ve heard comments such as, “It’s not like the judges are going to dock points for not having enough rhinestones on!” While this is true, costumes and showmanship ARE part of what they are scored on at many competitions.

Judging

I decided to look at the rules of some competitions to see how “costuming” plays a role in scores. While many competitions limit who is able to view their rules/regulations to only studio owners, Legacy Dance Competition does have their rules online. They judge dances as follows (according to their website):

“The judges will base their score on the following criteria:

50% – Technique
25% – Execution/Musicality
15% – Choreography/Showmanship
10% – Overall Appearance”

Hall of Fame also publishes their rules on their website, which states: “Judging: Will take into consideration choreography, technique, showmanship, and precision. “

If you look up “showmanship” online, the first thing that comes up is the Wikipedia definition: ” Showmanship, concerning artistic performing such as in Theatre, is the skill of performing in such a manner that will appeal to an audience or aid in conveying the performance’s essential theme or message.”

Costumes

Here is my daughter's vest for a tap costume as it originally came.

Here is my daughter’s vest for a tap costume as it originally came.

Ideally, a costume enhances the theme or message of the piece. On occasion, when a costume doesn’t seem to match the dance or the idea being presented, it can be almost uncomfortable to watch. On the other hand, a costume that fits a piece perfectly, makes it a more enjoyable experience. If you don’t think the shimmer of the rhinestones (or sequins, or glitter) adds to the appeal and pizzazz of a costume, you need to take another look. The impact can be quite noticeable!

Let’s take a look at my daughter’s small group costume. Originally, it was a black vest with hot pink jeggings. On its own, it is very cute! It almost looks like something my daughter would wear hanging out with her friends. However, I knew that Miss Maria, owner of Lake Area Dance Center, would find a way to rhinestone it that would make it really pop onstage. I always look forward to seeing what she comes up with. As usual, she didn’t disappoint!

The second picture shows how the rhinestones make a difference on the vest. The pink rhinestones on the buttons really make them “pop.” Without them, it might be difficult to see the buttons from a distance.

While it may not be the best picture, you can see how the rhinestones enhance the overall look of the vest!

While it may not be the best picture, you can see how the rhinestones enhance the overall look of the vest!

In the past, I was skeptical about the purpose of black rhinestones. I have since realized how even the black ones can really catch the light, which adds to the overall effect of the costume.

The picture also shows the pink rhinestones down the seam of the jeggings. That also makes a subtle difference in the costume. It makes the lines more noticeable as they are turning in unison, or opposite each other. The smallest details make the differences that people don’t necessarily recognize, but know are there.

026Recently, my daughter’s small group performed in a local show with this costume. With the stage lighting on, it looked fantastic. Of course, the dance itself is very fun, and they did a great job performing it, but the costumes looked great too! There’s something to be said for stage lighting, and how it shows off both the dancers’ moves and their costumes. Even when they turned on the black lights, you could see the dancers because of the way the rhinestones reflected the light.

While it’s not always easy to articulate why rhinestones are important on costumes, most people would probably notice a difference if they saw the same dance done with and without any kind of sparkle added to the costume. My guess, is that most people would enjoy watching the dances with rhinestones, etc. just a little bit more (even if they can’t put their finger on why).

The showmanship and enhanced costume is the little difference that could make a dance stand out. When you are being judged, standing out can be really important (especially if 10% of your score is based on your overall appearance)!

 

 

Book Review – No More Perfect Kids

NMPK Cover with Chapman nameI don’t often repost from my other blog to this one, but, as part of the launch team, I wanted to get the word out to as many readers as possible. Here’s the post I recently about a new book available tomorrow:

“I have had the great honor to be part of a launch team for a new book called No More Perfect Kids, by Jill Savage and Kathy Koch, PhD. I was given an advance copy of the book, so I could share my thoughts with you.

This book is a great reminder that we need to love our kids for who they are, not what we want them to be. We need to stop expecting perfection from ourselves as parents, or from our children. By doing so, we are not allowing anyone to live up to their full potential. God has a plan for all of us. Sometimes, we get in the way of His plans by trying to be something other than who/what he intended for us. The same is true for our children.

We all have dreams for our children, we sometimes put pressure on them to live up to those dreams without taking into consideration (or appreciation of) who they really are. This can cause children to question many aspects of their lives and who they are. Some questions we or they may ask, make up several titles of the chapters in this book:

  • Do You Like Me?
  • Am I Important to You?
  • Is It Okay I’m Unique?
  • Who Am I?
  • Am I a Failure?
  • What’s My Purpose?
  • Will You Help Me Change?

Each of these questions (and many others) is discussed, and an “antidote” to the problem in question is suggested. It helps the reader understand him/herself better as a parent, and to understand their children in a new way.

The end of the book has many great resources for parents, including:

  • Age appropriate activities and chores for children
  • How to pray for your children using Bible verses
  • Character qualities to develop in your children
  • Recommended reading for perfectly imperfect kids
  • Leader’s guide (for leading study groups)

If you purchase the book from any store or online retailer between March 13-23, Hearts at Home and Moody Publishers are offering over $100 of additional free resources for you.  What a deal!! Hurry though, the offer is only “good” during the introductory launch period!

I would recommend this book to anyone who has children, or plans to some day have children. It may even help you understand yourself a little!”

I Took The Plunge!

046Jumping into a hole in the ice when temps are hovering around 0F and windchills are even colder… sounds crazy, right?? Walking more than 3 miles before jumping into that lake in the bitter cold sounds just as crazy, right? Well, in both situations, you’re right! Yet, given the insanity of it all, this is exactly what happened last weekend!

Our team of 9 was to meet at Lake Calhoun for the Polar Bear Plunge and 5K to benefit the Special Olympics of MN. We parked in the wrong parking lot, and had to walk just over a mile and a half extra in the super cold morning. Not exactly the way to start out the day. It’s hard to believe how tight your muscles can feel, even just while walking, when it’s that cold outside.

020By the time we met up with our team, we had a very short amount of time to get everyone their bibs, etc. We had time to get hand warmers, and a quick group shot. We headed back out into the bitter cold to walk around the lake. Good thing we had great company! It helped us feel a bit warmer than we actually were.

We had originally intended to run at least part of the 5K. The ice and uneven road made walking difficult. The two boys managed to run some (in between slipping, sliding, and climbing snowbanks). We let them go ahead of us. They were having fun! As a group, we finished in just over an hour.

When we got to the warming tent, we met up with the husband of one of our team mates. He took my two kids (the girl and younger boy), and went over to the beach to video tape our plunge into the icy cold water. The remaining 7 of us headed into the changing tents to prepare to jump. As we walked to the lake, I think we all started to question why we were doing this on such a frigid morning.

I’m not sure I can capture the thoughts that were going through my head as I stood under that giant inflatable bear, staring into the water below. I was cold, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was trying to prepare myself for the shock that I was sure was to come as soon as we hit the water. Thank goodness the emcee reminded us that we were jumping in support of the Special Olympics. My thoughts went to my friend Lizzy (a Special Olympics athlete) just as I jumped.

So… there was this myth that I heard that said since the water was 32 degrees, and the air temp was well below that, the water would feel like bath water. This myth is FALSE!! The water was cold. In fact, it was shockingly cold!! It almost took your breath away as soon as you were in. I was not brave enough to go under water. Since I’ve been sick since about December, I thought it wise not to push it. It didn’t matter. It was still freezing cold. As soon as I started climbing the steps to get out of the water, I’m pretty sure everything that was wet started to freeze. I mean literally freeze, like, turn into ice. I went as quickly as I could back to the changing tents (I’m not sure if I actually ran or not, since I felt like a snowman). The tunnel taking us back was supposed to be heated. It certainly didn’t feel very warm!

Proof we survived!

Proof we survived!

Trying to get changed back into our dry clothes proved to be a challenge. I couldn’t feel anything from my hips down. My butt and legs were completely numb, and my fingers were very stiff from the cold. Peeling off wet (and partially frozen) clothes  in those conditions is more than a little tricky. Eventually, we all managed to get dry clothes on, and headed back to the warming tent. I welcomed the free coffee Caribou was serving, and didn’t even care there was no creamer!

So, why did we go through all this madness? To raise money for a good cause! Our team raised almost $2300 (and that’s not including the kids who weren’t registered online). Thank you to all of our donors!! While we didn’t get my husband a unicorn tattoo, we raised a very respectable amount to support Special Olympics and their programs. We appreciate everyone who cheered us on, supported us, tweeted or shared our links, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

People keep asking me if I will do it again. At this point, I’m unsure if I will take the plunge again… we’ll see.

Related link: Jumping in an Ice Cold Lake for a Cause

A New Method of Rhinestoning

crystal meth2Some people wanted me to call this post “What Dance Moms Need to Know About Crystal Meth.” Haha

I have recently discovered a much less messy, less wasteful, and time saving method of gluing rhinestones on! I can’t believe I never thought of it before. What’s the secret? Syringes! It really is that simple! Click the link for a great video showing just how to use the syringes most effectively!

Syringes

Using a syringe with a 14 gauge tip, and E-6000 glue, I was able to complete 3 costumes (2 were partially started), in addition to a few other projects in about 4 1/2 hours. Using my old method, or other methods I was previously aware of, I would have maybe finished 2 costumes in that amount of time, and that would be working non-stop.  I did not have glue all over the place, and I didn’t have to throw away any paper or cardboard with dried globs of glue. Using the syringe method also seemed to reduce the fumes of the glue, since it was contained in the tube, not sitting out on a piece of paper on my work surface.

Note: the syringes and tips are meant to be disposable. Eventually, glue will dry in the syringe, and you may need to toss it. That is why both the syringes and tips are sold in multi-packs.

Ways to prolong the life of your syringe and tips:

  • Start out with only a small amount of E-6000. It really goes a long way when you are using this method!
  • Make sure the syringe is sideways when you are putting the glue in, then point it up to let most of the air out before putting the tip on. I did not take the tip off in between adding more glue. The important piece is to let the air out!
  • When you pull back the plunger in between glue application steps, pull it back just enough that the glue stops oozing out. By pulling it back too far, you are allowing more glue to enter the syringe, which will dry your glue out faster.
  • If you are going to let your syringe sit for an extended period of time, pull the syringe back just a tiny bit, and open up a paper clip to insert into the end of the tip. Again, the prevents air from drying out the glue.
  • If your glue does end up drying inside your syringe, depending on the glue you use, you may be able to peel the glob of dried glue out, and use the opened paper clip to pry any remaining glue out of the tip. I can’t say for other glues, but this did work with E-6000.

001Tools

One of the dance moms discovered a tool, called the Crystal Katana, at Crystal Couture (I ordered mine online). It has some similarities to the wax positioners I have used in the past. The main differences are that the handle is bigger, the wax is more sturdy, and thus, it will last much longer. The opposite end of the wax has a hole just the size of the tops of the rhinestones, so it is more effective for pushing stones down, or positioning them as needed.

While working on costumes yesterday, I used both the Crystal Katana, and the wax positioners. They were fairly equal in their ability to pick up the stones to place them on the tiny dots of glue the syringe made. With the Katana, it really took no pressure at all to pick up the stones. I liked that. On the rare occasion that I pressed too hard, a little wax residue was left on the rhinestone (which wiped right off), but no more than I would have gotten with the regular wax positioners. I liked having both tools handy, because the “other end” of the wax positioner helped scrape away any glue that oozed out from under the rhinestones.

I thought the Crystal Katana was very easy to use. I liked the wider handle, and how little pressure it took to pick up the stones. It didn’t dent the wax, as has happened to me on the regular wax positioners. Some of the staff at the dance studio did not like using the Katana. They thought the handle was too wide, and was uncomfortable.

Different people have different preferences for tools and methods. It’s worth experimenting a bit to see what is most comfortable for you. As for me, I can’t wait to get my daughter’s costumes and start rhinestoning!! I am excited that it will probably take me half the time, and will likely look neater. I know my fingers at least will! ;-)

6 Lessons Learned Spending the Day at the Dance Studio

group photo snow dayThe school district I work in was closed, but my kids’ district was open. Rather than sitting home, spending the entire day blogging, or wasting it playing video games, or watching Days of Our Lives and playing on the internet, I spent the day at the dance studio.

For the second day in a row, Lake Area Dance Center opened it’s doors to competitive dancers who were off school due to the extreme cold weather. Yesterday, virtually all the districts in the state were closed. A good majority of the competitive dancers were there to work on their dances, improve technique, and get to spend the day with dancers of all ages. My daughter was there, and loved it! I spent the day following behind groups of dancers, cleaning up after them. Of course they ate lunch on the floor right after I swept it! Of course the little ones pawed the entire mirror 5 minutes after I cleaned it! ;-)

As I previously mentioned, my kids’ school district did not close today. In fact, I think they were one of the only schools in the state that didn’t. Many of the dancers who WERE off today went in for more studio practice. I went to do some projects that Miss Maria gave me. I learned some very important lessons today… in no particular order, they were:

1. I could never be a seamstress. I can’t even cut fabric straight!!

2. Working with material that has sequins on it is tricky. It’s hard to cut straight, and if you are trying to manipulate the fabric, you need to make sure the sequins in the bottom layers are not sticking up, or it will mess up what you are trying to do.

3. Hot glue is HOT! It’s been a long time since I’ve used it, but man! OUCH! I now have a small blister on my thumb from the hot glue…. I’ll just call it a battle wound!

4. There are actually  two settings on the hot glue gun. The cool setting is just as effective, and doesn’t burn. It also dries really fast!

5. There may be advantages for using hot glue over E-6000 for some projects. For example, if you are gluing things that are laminated, hot glue is much more effective; it dries faster, and doesn’t slide around as much in the process.

6. The perfect test to see if someone has ADD?? Have someone count out 180 rhinestones, over and over… if they mess up more than 2 times for one baggy, they should receive an automatic diagnosis! OK, that may be slightly exaggerating, but I think you get my point. This was a task that proved nearly impossible for me! I am apparently way too ADD, as I kept losing track of where I was… I tried making tally marks after 50, but got messed up around 30. Then, I tried tally marks after each 25, but would forget where I was…  My mind would start to wander, and pretty soon I’d be at 62 without having any idea if I was even counting in order (due to the fact that it looked like only about 30 rhinestones). I quickly gave up on this task, and left it to the high schooler who was helping out as well. I went on to work on other tasks that were more hands on, and didn’t involve counting! ;-)

Bonus lesson learned yesterday: When dancers lean up against the mirror with their sweaty backs, you have to scrub twice as hard to get all the sweat off. Yes, even harder than you normally would need to when washing off the fingerprints of a group of 5 year olds! Yuck!

Jumping in an Ice Cold Lake for a Cause

I think the bitter cold of this winter may have officially gotten to my brain, because I actually agreed to jump into a frozen lake!!

The Vikings had a team of plungers just before team SQLPlunge.

The Vikings had a team of plungers just before team SQLPlunge.

For the past two years, my husband, and some of our friends have participated in the Polar Bear Plunge. What this means, is that they jumped into Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis in the middle of winter to help raise money for Special Olympics of Minnesota. It was dang cold the first year; last year’s temps weren’t too bad.

Last year, I participated in the Plunge 5K that takes place the morning of the Polar Bear Plunge. I walked the 3.1 mile path around Lake Calhoun with Jenny Timmerman, another SQL Wife who I’ve become friends with over the past couple of years. Later in the day, we watched the rest of our team jump into that icy cold water, followed by a dip in the hot tub. We jokingly said we “might” do it (the jump) the next year, but I don’t think either of us thought we actually would. Guess what? This year, we are both signed up for the 5K AND the jump!

Jenny and I, before the Plunge 5K.

Jenny and I, before the Plunge 5K.

I have a couple of reasons for agreeing to do it this year. First, I think I lost my mind. Second, my two kids, and one step-son wanted to jump in, so if they want to do it, I really should too, right? Third, I have a bit of a connection with the Special Olympics this year.

Growing up, one of my best friends’ brother had cerebral pulsy. He was like a second brother to me. He participated in adaptive sports (floor hockey, if I recall) at the high school. I’m not sure he ever got involved with Special Olympics, but he should have!

Special Olympics of MN has many programs for both physically and mentally disabled youth. Their mission (according to their website) is as follows:

“Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics’ athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world.”

This year, I am helping two young women in a lyrical dance class at the studio my children dance at (Lake Area Dance). Both of these young ladies have special needs. Amanda has Down Syndrome, Lizzy has some cognitive disabilities. These two are a delight to work with. Each week, I learn about as much in working with them, as I hope to be helping them to learn. Lizzy is very involved with Special Olympics as an athlete. She is also one of the most positive people I know. She is always smiling, even when her sister is driving her crazy in dance class! I have heard so many wonderful things about the Special Olympic programs from her family, that I decided this was the year to jump in the lake. YIKES!

This was last year's team SQLPlunge. We'd love to have it grow even bigger this year!

This was last year’s team SQLPlunge. We’d love to have it grow even bigger this year!

The whole point of the event is to raise money for Special Olympics. Here’s where you can help. I have set a pretty high goal of what I’d like to raise for this event. My goal? $1,000!! I know that seems like such a large number, but I know that programs that help empower disabled youth is such a great cause. With your help, I can reach it!

Please consider helping me reach my goal with a donation of any amount. Every dollar counts! My fundraising page is at:  http://www.plungemn.org/plunger/sarahstrate

If you’d like, you could even sign up to jump with us!! If that sounds too cold, I don’t blame you (unless you’re Paul Timmerman) ;-). We’d love to have friends and family members cheering us on from the beach at Lake Calhoun on March 1st. As it gets closer to the date, if you plan to come out, you can talk to any of the team members to find out what time we are signed up to jump. It will likely be in the morning, as most of us are also walking/running the 5K beforehand. Hope to see you there!

2013 in review – Dancem0m

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Memories

It’s the morning of Christmas Eve – my favorite day of the year. I woke up early, because I was excited. This happens every year!

DSCN13620189When I was growing up, Christmas Eve WAS Christmas. It was the day we’d open our presents, it was the day we’d go to church, it was the day we’d go to my grandparent’s house for a potluck style meal and presents. My favorite part of Christmas Eve was always the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. Every year, my grandpa would read a different version. Sometimes, it might be the King James, or NIV Bible; sometimes, it was from a different Gospel. Our favorite, was always the version as written in Luke.

As I became an adult, Christmas Eve took on a different feel. The excitement was there, but it was different. When I became a mom, and I was excited for my kids. I didn’t care if I got a present or not, I was just excited to watch them open theirs. I still looked forward to listening to my Grandpa read the Christmas story.

The last few years, we no longer get together at my grandpa’s house. He sold his house a few years after my grandma passed away, and moved into an apartment. Sometimes, he and his wife come over to my mom’s house for Christmas, sometimes, they go to another aunt’s house. I miss listening to him read the story. I think I need to record him reading it, so that we can play it every year.

We now get together at my Mom’s – sometimes Christmas Eve, sometimes the weekend before or the weekend after. Our Christmas celebration as a family changes every year too (depending on if we have all the kids together for Christmas or not). Even as traditions have changed, Christmas Eve remains my favorite day of the year. I dream about the kids opening their gifts, I wake up early, and I look forward to whatever it is that we are doing that day. No matter what it is, I won’t forget the reason we celebrate this day.

038

Post Christmas Eve update:  My grandpa was not originally going to be able to make it to my mom’s today, but showed up just before dinner. We all wanted to have him read the Bible story as in the years past. I tried to record it, but ran out of space on my camera. :-( Apparently, the last time I uploaded pictures, it did not delete the pictures as I thought. I was so bummed. I told my grandpa that I wanted to record him reading it at another time. He looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t think he quite understands how important this tradition is to many of us in the family.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Master Classes – SO worth it!

039My kids had an amazing opportunity today! We had to drive an hour and a half each way in order for them to experience it, but it was SOOO worth it!

The Eau Claire School of Dance, where Grace and I used to dance when we lived in WI, hosted Robert Taylor, Jr. from the show, So You Think You Can Dance. When I first heard about it, I was so excited! I HAD to bring my kids.

Grace’s dance experiences have been all over the place from a style standpoint. The one style she misses most (and hasn’t done much of in about 4 years), has been hip hop. I think she is secretly a little jealous of her brother who is in his 2nd year of hip hop at Lake Area Dance Center (LADC). Even though she has reestablished her love for tap, hip hop is still a favorite. How appropriate that today’s classes were in that style!

022Michael took Robert’s level 1 class. It was for ages 5-8, though, there were several teenage girls in there as well. I thought they were there to help out, but no, they were taking each level, just because. After watching the level 1 and level 2 classes, I think that was a smart move. There was definitely a noticeable difference between levels 1 and 2! He taught them a little about isolating parts of their boday (for example their head). He taught them about waving (think of a snake-like movement going across their body). They practiced waving from one arm, across to the other, and getting the feet involved too. They also practice finding their own “groove”, as Michael is doing in the photo above. Then they learned a routine. Michael was so nervous he was going to screw up, but he did great! I was so proud watching him!

In between sessions, Robert was hanging out in the lobby. We got to chat with him a bit. Such a nice guy! We were talking about how his style of hip hop was different than what Michael does in his class at home, and how cool it was for him to be able to try something new. Robert encouraged Michael to keep taking classes. He told him it’s good to have as many different teachers as you can in hip hop, and about how there are so many different styles to explore. He went on to name about 10 different styles, including, waving, break dancing, popping, locking, and tutting. I didn’t know what that one was. When I asked, he was very cool about it, and went on to show me. I recognized it, but didn’t realize it had a name!

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Next up, was level 2 with the 9-12 year old age group (and up). This class was definitely more intense than the first. Grace clearly enjoyed herself as they learned their routine. After they had learned the entire thing, Robert split them into  3 groups. Roughly, it was the youngest girls, the older girls, and the boys. He had each group do the entire number once with him, once on their own, and then asked for 4 volunteers to perform it for every one else one more time. Grace volunteered. She also did a great job! After seeing the faces on some of the dancers when he said they’d be doing it on their own, he said to them, “Don’t worry if you screw up, just keep on dancin’! Have fun with it!”

There’s something incredibly joyous about watching your kids dance… it’s like seeing their souls being exposed. No matter how much they drive you crazy at times, watching them dance washes that away. One of the really cool things Robert did, was to talk to all the dancers after level 2 (he might have at the end of the session Michael took too, but I wasn’t in there for that one). He said (not quite a direct quote, but close) “Dance is a universal language. No matter what style you are dancing: ballet, contemporary, hip hop, street jazz… it’s all the same language. The moves might be different, but the emotions are all there… Some people might not get it, people at school… it’s OK, just keep on dancing. Don’t lose that passion…” I wish I had recorded his speech to them. It was amazing! I’m pretty sure even I was at the edge of my seat listening to him. How inspirational he was for those kids!

130In case it isn’t yet obvious, I was quite impressed with Robert Taylor Jr!! He taught the kids in a way that drew them in. They all worked hard to learn what he was teaching them, and he worked hard to connect with each one. He made a point to talk with each child, and to high five every single one. Both of my kids came out of their classes beaming! He also invited the parents to all come in during the level 2 class. I got some great photos, but that was not what made it so cool. What made it cool, was getting to hear how he taught, hear him laugh, hear his inspirational speech he gave…

This is the first time I have gotten to witness Master Classes. I know that Grace has gotten to experience them at Masquerade Nationals the past couple of years with judges and choreographers. She has also experienced master classes at LADC as Miss Maria has brought in guest choreographers to teach the dancers. I don’t know if they are all like what my kids got to experience today, but if they are – WOW!!! Take them, send your kids to them, and be thrilled that they are learning some cool new things from teachers other than the ones they are used to. What a great experience for everyone!

Thank you to Eau Claire School of Dance for inviting such a great guy to the studio to teach a day of Master Classes. Thank you to Miss Maria for excusing Grace from her regular classes so she could have this unique experience. And especially, thank you to Robert Taylor Jr (@D8Robert), for flying all the way out from New York City to teach the boys and girls some really fun hip hop routines!

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