Masquerade Nationals 2014 – Finals

Ice cream treats with studio friends after Finals were over.

Ice cream treats with studio friends after Finals were over.

I wrote about Masquerade Nationals already, but thought Finals deserved its own post. I also realized a few things that I forgot to mention in my previous post.


I forgot to mention the great boutique shop at Nationals. I know in the past I have talked about it, but it’s still worth bringing up again. Programs sold for $7, a great price for this thick program! It not only listed the names of each studio and dancer, but also had space in the back to write all the placement awards, and Finals lineup. For me, having space to write down results, is an important part of the program!

They also had a deal – you could purchase a program, sweat pants, and a “city t-shirt” with the names of all the dancers in the competition on the back, for $50. Grace already had the sweatpants, so I got the deal for me. ;-) Grace got a cute pair of shorts (with built in bikers) and tank top for $15 each. I always enjoy shopping in their boutique, even if I end up buying more than I had planned on.


I also failed to mention the food choices available at this venue this year. Since changing names (owners?), they have better choices of food. It’s still quite expensive, but is also a better quality. There is pizza, which is too greasy, but tastes good once you soak a few napkins with it. There is also an over-priced walking taco that is ok, but a nice change from soggy subs, and the line is shorter than walking a block away to Subway. Grace has suddenly gotten into salads, Caesar salads in particular. They had huge salads for sale. Grace got one almost every day, and really liked it.

Me? I discovered an Asian restaurant just a block away that I decided to try with another dance family. It was delicious, and I will likely go back.

Our photo booth pics.

Photo Ops

Just for fun, they had a backdrop for people to take pictures in front of. We, of course, had to take advantage! They also had a photo booth available on one day of the week. People could get their pictures taken in it, and each person got their own copy of the photos. The most awesome part? It was free! Just another reason we love Masquerade. They try to keep it fun for everyone!

Masquerade also offered studios a DVD offer. Parents could purchase a copy of a special Studio DVD for only $45. This DVD includes the opening number (which we had 5 dancers participating in) and all dances our studio participated in, including any that were in the Finals. Considering you can normally purchase one dance for $15 or so, it’s an extraordinary deal! :-)


On to the point of this whole post!! Finals day was a big day for LADC! Every group, except the Angels (Grace’s group), were in the Finals. Even though Grace wasn’t dancing, we went to cheer on our teammates.

As I mentioned, we had 5 dancers participating in the Parade of Stars (Opening Number). It was a fun dance choreographed by Sarah Jo Fazio (a favorite judge), and Marlowe Howell.

The first dance off of the day was Petite Encore Performances. Our Sparkles (ages 8-10) performed their jazz dance, Proud Mary. At the end of the night, they ended up winning the Petite Encore Award!! After their division, there were several others that contained awesome dances. Finals really is a great show to watch – best of the best, really!

195After several other divisions, it was time for the Junior Dancer of the Year Finals. LADC’s own Sage Neal was one of 5 girls who made it to the finals. Each girl had to perform a solo. Sage did her musical theater solo, which was perfectly choreographed by Kyle Gross to show off her personality and showmanship. She was amazing!! Not only did our sweet and sassy Sage win National Junior Dancer of the Year 2014, she also won the National Title of Junior Miss Masquerade!! This title was well deserved. Another amazingly talented junior, Olivia Johnson, was the 1st runner up for National Junior Miss Masquerade 2014!!

As the day went on, we watched Sage also perform her contemporary solo in the Junior Division National Champion Dance Off. We also watched one of our small groups compete The Bird in the Mini Division National Champion Dance Off , the amazing Madelyn Lee from LADC perform one of her solos in the Finals for Senior Dancer of the Year, and we participated in the Spirit Parade. Our dancers apparently got a little over-eager throwing candy out in the audience, but it was fun.

The afternoon went on with more awesome dances… in my comments in my program, I wrote “anyone’s game.” All the dancers came to win, and proved it on stage!

The only negative comment I wrote, was that when announcements are being made, they need to turn the music down. It was difficult to hear sometimes what they were saying.

Lake Area Dance - Intermediate Studio of the Year 2014!!!

Lake Area Dance – Intermediate Studio of the Year 2014!!!

We got to watch the littlest dancers from our studio perform their tap dance called Wash That Man. The oldest competitors performed their jazz dance Betty’s Wake. While they didn’t win the National Champion Large Group Dance Off, studio owner Maria Pomerleau  did receive a choreography award for it!

At the very end of the awards session, they announced the Studios of the Year. Lake Area Dance won Intermediate Studio of the Year for the 3rd year in a row!!! Very exciting, and very well deserved! :-)

Masquerade Dance Nationals 2014

080Last month was Nationals for Masquerade here in Burnsville, MN. It was a very busy week, but also, a fun one!

Master Classes

Events started for us on Saturday. Grace attended Master Classes. It was 5 hours of classes in various styles. Many of the teachers were judges for the competition. The cost for 5 hours was only $65. I think we paid this or more for 4 hours of dance in past years. It definitely felt like a good value!

This was her first year dancing with the seniors. She said it was very hard, but also that she loved it! The one class she talked about most was tap. She LOVES tap! There were a lot of new moves with names she had never heard. The older girls tended to be in the front, so the younger or shorter ones were in the back trying to keep up. Grace says she struggled, but never quit trying. She really enjoyed dancing with some of the girls who she had watched in years past (like Sylvia Borasch, last year’s Title winner, who’s tap style she wants to emulate).  The only class she was disappointed they didn’t have, was hip hop. She can’t wait until she gets to take Master Classes again next year!

Junior solos were happening at the same time as Senior Master Classes, so Michael and I got to watch many of the girls from our studio perform their solos. We didn’t often get to see those during the competition season.

Welcome Party

Photo courtesy of Masquerade's facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Masquerade’s facebook page.

Every year, there is a welcome party. We didn’t go the first year, but regretted it. Last year, it was karaoke and pizza in the courtyard. This year, it was a “MasqueRAVE party” for the kids, and Casino night for the adults.

In the upstairs lobby area, there were casino games, and a cash bar set up. When we got to Casino Night, they gave us each $2000 in fake money to play with. The dealers were able to break our money down into smaller denominations. There was Black Jack, In Between, Beat the House, and a couple other games. Most of the people there were parents from our studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC).  At the end, we were to add up all our money, and top earners would win reserve seating at Finals, credit in the apparel shop, and more. Though it was mostly LADC parents, we didn’t beat the odds. Another group of parents won most of the prizes. I wish everyone would have gone into a drawing for things like t-shirts, and other prizes, but that was not the way it was set up. Oh well… It was still a lot of fun!

The MasqueRAVE was fun for the kids, but since there had been pizza in years past, many of them hadn’t eaten, and were hungry. Luckily for my kids, I had fed them before we headed out there, but of course, they got hungry anyway… They were in a studio sized room, and got really hot from all the dancing. Several glowstick-clad kids came up and asked for money for snacks or food, or for us to hold their jackets. Luckily, the kids were free to go outside. Many did to cool down, but then headed back in for more dancing. They had a great time.

I hope they do next year’s welcome party a similar way, but also have some sort of food and beverages (even if just appetizers or snacks). I enjoyed hanging out with the other adults, not focused on dancing or our children. :-)  The kids got to meet people from other studios in a non-competitive, fun way.

Watching ONLINE!

I love that so many competitions are starting to get on the live streaming band wagon!! I had to work Monday, but Grace was able to watch dancers from our studio and others compete all day long! Also, I was able to keep friends and family members in the loop as to when LADC’s dances were about to perform.

Small Groups Compete

On Tuesday of Nationals week, the small groups performed. Grace’s tap small group was to perform at around 8:45 in the morning. Doors didn’t open until 7:15, so while it was an early morning, it wasn’t as early as some competitions! :-)  They did an awesome job, and received a Platinum score!

This competition was run a bit differently than some others we have been to. All the small groups competed in one day. It started with the youngest recreational group in a given division, then worked its way up through senior elites. All dances of a particular style were first, then it started over in the next style. Tap groups were first, then musical theater, then jazz, etc.

What I liked about doing it this way, was that we got to see Elite level small groups scattered throughout the day. Elite generally equals fantastic dancing. Very enjoyable, for sure!

078The downside of being scheduled this way, was that overall awards weren’t until evening. That makes for a long day. Many dancers from Grace’s group didn’t hang out for the whole day, but we wanted to cheer on team mates, and watch all the incredible dances. We were glad they were running over an hour ahead of schedule, so awards weren’t as late as they otherwise would have been.

Also, it was a gorgeous day outside. The kids spent some time playing in the fountains, while the parents soaked up the sun!

In the overall small group awards, LADC did very well! Our studio took:

  • 1st in the Petite Recreational Small Group category (also received a “Sassy Sisters” Judges Award for being both cute AND good)
  • 1st in the Petite Intermediate Small Group category
  • 1st and 2nd in the Junior Intermediate Small Group category (Grace’s tap group took 2nd, LADC’s lyrical small group took 1st)
  • 3rd in the Teen Intermediate Small Group category
  • 1st in the Senior Intermediate Small Group category.

Large Groups Compete

Wednesday’s schedule was basically the same as Tuesday’s. They started the day with Petite Elite Line Tap, then went to Petite Recreational Tap, working their way up to Senior Elite Large Group Tap. Again, there were things I liked and didn’t like about running the day this way. It was a long time between dances. This was kind of nice, as dancers had a chance to breathe, we were able to go eat, etc. The long times in between also contributed to a long day…

It was difficult for the youngest dancers at our studio. Some of them left to take naps or otherwise rest, and came back. Others stayed until they danced, but left before awards. On the upside, they were running about an hour and a half ahead of time, so they danced their afternoon/evening dances much earlier than expected. Awards were not as ahead of schedule as we would have hoped due to a parent dance off and extra time given to judges to decide who would dance in the finals. That said, they were still earlier than scheduled.

143Grace had 4 dances that day. She started with tap, then contemporary, then production, and finally, jazz. They did well on all dances, though, seemed worn out by their last dance. Their scores were Platinum, High Gold, Platinum, and High Gold in the order listed above. In the overalls, our studio took:

  • 1st(tap) and 2nd (jazz) in the Petite Recreational Large Group category
  • 2nd (tap) and 3rd (jazz) in the Petite Intermediate Large Group category
  • 1st in the Junior Intermediate Line category for the all-studio production number
  • 2nd (tap) and 5th (jazz) in the Junior Intermediate Large Group category
  • 1st (jazz), 2nd (tap) and 5th (contemporary) in the Teen Intermediate Large Group/Line category. Jazz also received a “Joyful, Joyful” Judges’ Award for dancing such a wonderful celebration of life!
  • Several dances were also nominated for Audience Choice Awards.

Several dances from our studio made it into the Finals the next day. It was a long and exciting week. We always enjoy our time at Masquerade Regionals and Nationals. They run a great competition!




My blog has been kind of quiet lately… that’s because life has been incredibly busy lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to (some of these will have upcoming blog posts written about them):

  • later than usual end of school year for me
  • started a new job at Lakeshore Learning
  • last dance competition
  • Michael’s first karate tournament
  • dance recitals
  • planting and weeding the garden + other yard work
  • bridal shower and a wedding in the same day, both in WI
  • playing Ingress on occassion
  • other things I can’t even think of right now

My house is a mess, my desk is even worse… I’m looking forward to a few days to get some things done around here. Hopefully next week, I’ll be able to get caught up on blogging.

Have a great day!

Masquerade Dance Competition 2014

039Recently, my daughter’s studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC), attended our favorite dance competition of the year, Masquerade.

The Venue

It was held at the Ames Center (formerly Burnsville Performing Arts Center). One of the favorite things about this particular location is the beautiful courtyard (where dozens of young men and women were lined up taking pre-prom pictures). It was a breezy day, but nice enough that the dance brothers all got to play “Minecraft” outside. They decided to continue on a game they made up and played at the previous competition that was held there. It also has a very close proximity to both a Subway and Caribou Coffee. Food and coffee, both must-haves for long days at competitions!

One thing I like about this competition, is that even though the food  is expensive, it is a relatively inexpensive competition to go to. We don’t have to pay for parking. That ends up saving a huge amount!

Programs were only $7! That’s a price I can deal with! There were spots for writing down awards, but all categories and divisions for awards are listed in the back. It was helpful to have those spaces, but I didn’t realize they were there until after the first award session I sat through… It would be nice to have those sections in the program at each award session spot, but it’s better than not at all.

They had lots of apparel and other items for sale. Some of it was reasonably priced, some, not so much. Usually they have a deal where you could buy both sweat pants and a “city shirt” at a discounted rate. The city shirts are always great, they have all the studios and dancer names on the back. This year, they did not offer that deal.

One thing I have really come to appreciate, was that there was only one stage at this location. The competition was huge; other studios were at Hopkins High School for a second Masquerade competition the same weekend. This was the only competition that we only had to be there one day. All 5 of Grace’s dances were the same day. It made for a long day, but was nice to only have go once. :-)

There was a crew backstage helping the Prop Dads get props on and off stage. This made for even the largest props to get set up and taken down in record time. Way to keep things moving!

034Dressing rooms were an issue. While they have lots of space in theory, it was packed tighter than a can of sardines. Very cliche, I know, but we were in there TIGHT (especially when virtually our entire studio was there at the same time for production). We were assigned to share a dressing room with another large studio in a room which was about the size of a dance studio. To say it was packed is an understatement!



We had an unfortunate event that happened… someone went through my daughter’s things, and $15 went missing. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone!! It’s quite possible that the $15 fell out of her pocket as she was grabbing something out of it. I don’t know. What she told me is that it was in her LADC jacket with the pockets zipped. When we returned to the dressing room, her pockets were unzipped, the money was gone, and there was a large cheese stain on the pocket of her brand new hoodie. She had not eaten anything with nacho cheese, and the spot was about the size of a fingerprint, right in the middle of the pocket. Her ipods, phone, and $5 were still in the hoodie pocket. Other dancers around us did not have anything missing, thank goodness. It just came as a good reminder that with so many people in and out of rooms, be aware of leaving valuables, credit cards, or cash laying unsupervised. We all tend to be very trusting, but things can happen anywhere!

The Judging

The judges were tough. Platinums were hard to come by. Even though it is a bummer not to hear “Platinum” after your child’s every dance routine, it makes you appreciate them even more when they do get them. I feel it is good for character-building. Our hope was that it would make them work that much harder at the next competition!

053LADC was awarded Best in Show (highest scoring routine overall in the Junior Division) for their production number, Dock of the Bay. It also received the audience choice award.  In addition to production, Grace’s jazz dance, The Bachelor received a platinum, and took 1st place overall. It was nominated for video of the week. Her Contemporary dance, Deathly Hallows, got a high gold, and took 4th overall. Her tap small group, Girls, got high gold, and 3rd overall in the small group division.

Lake Area Dance was also awarded Top Intermediate Studio!! What a great end to a great competition!




Hall of Fame Competition – 2014

023 - CopyCompetition #2 for the season was Hall of Fame. This was also the very first competition Grace ever competed in with Eau Claire School of Dance (four years ago), so it’s a bit nostalgic for us. Every year we go, this competition seems crazier and crazier! It tends to draw some of the best studios in the Twin Cities – Larkin, Woodbury Dance Center, Northern Force, Kinkade Dance IndustriesStudio 4, Northland School of Dance, and Music General, to name a few (ok, more than just a few). It was also the competition we first saw and fell in love with Lake Area Dance Center. The incredibly high level of talent we get to see is my favorite thing about this competition.

The schedule

Hall of Fame had 2 stages going on simultaneously. Despite the number of dances happening at the same time, it still stretched out over 5 days. That’s a LONG competition, and can make for late nights for dancers who have school the next day!  Sometimes, studios had 2 dances scheduled on opposite stages at the same (or close to the same) time. That makes it difficult for studio owners/teachers to manage schedules. We even had situations where we had the same dancers scheduled on 2 stages at almost the same time. The competition managers made it work, but how stressful for those dancers that didn’t even know which dance they’d be performing first, and then making the super fast change. My daughter did not have to worry about any of those situations, luckily. Our biggest scheduling issue, was that we had to be there on 3 separate days for Grace’s dances. Not a big deal, because that meant more amazing dances we got to watch, but it was a big time commitment.


Prices at this competition were a little higher than usual. It cost $15 for a program. Granted, it IS very thick, but still, I prefer to stay around the $10 range for the program. Some competitions charge that, AND include a pen with highlighter on one end. The program does not include any spaces to write in the awards, so I had to fill the margins with all the extra awards, overalls, and Best in Category. I wouldn’t be so grumpy about paying the extra if there were boxes or extra space to write in awards. This would be an improvement they could make that would be very helpful, especially considering the lightning fast pace the awards ceremony goes. The apparel was also an average of about $5 more than at other competitions. On the upside, you can order their apparel online if you didn’t want to get it that day. They do have some super cute apparel available!

The Venue

The venue this competition was held at, was the RiverCentre, in downtown St. Paul. Because of the downtown location, and the fact that it’s connected to a major sports/concert venue, means we have to pay for parking, and it’s not cheap! It also means they were likely to have over-priced food ($4.50 for a popcorn, $2.50 for a can of pop). This makes for a fairly expensive weekend, even if we bring our own snacks. That said, I realize, we are lucky enough to have competitions in the area we can drive to each day, rather than pay hotel, etc. for multiple days. The two stages I referred to are back to back, so makes going back and forth between stages easier than other competitions I have been to where you have to run down the hall to go between stages. There are dressing room areas all over the place. It’s nice to have plenty of space for the girls to both change, and to practice.


Some awesome things about this competition: they offered a “studio package” where we can get all the videos from our studios’ dances, and all the pictures from our dancers dances for a VERY reasonable price. Last year I paid significantly more than that for just the dance pictures (that is, until we were offered the studio package last year, after which, they refunded the difference). Their photographers are generally fantastic. We’ve gotten some really great pictures from there!

Our studio has a lot of props this year. While we do have a fabulous crew of Prop Dads (and teachers and assistants who help), it was much appreciated that Hall of Fame has a crew of men to help move props on and off stage. I heard several people comment on how fast the props were getting set up and taken down. Kudos to their crew for all their help!

Since Hall of Fame is notorious for running an hour or more ahead of time, I really appreciated that this competition has text alerts you can sign up for.  The alerts would come usually about 10 songs before the awards session, and sometimes about 3 songs before. They would not only tell you how many numbers before awards, but also how far ahead they were on each stage. This was very helpful for both parents and dancers, but also to tell relatives who wanted to come watch.

Probably my favorite feature of Hall Of Fame, is the opportunity to watch online via Livestream. We took advantage of this option quite a bit. We watched some of the mini dancers in the morning before we had to head downtown, and we watched from home on Sunday, after Grace was done dancing. I know several relatives and members of Eau Claire School of Dance watched Grace online too. It was very cool to know people who couldn’t be there were still watching and cheering her on from afar!

The Judging

I was surprised to hear how many people didn’t understand how the judging worked. I suppose most parents/spectators are that way their first year. Luckily, if you get a program, most competitions will explain (at least somewhat) how the judging works. In the Hall of Fame program, the scoring information is on the inside back cover:

  • There are four divisions: Future Hall of Gamers (8 & under), Rookie League (Recreational), National League (Intermediate), and American League (Advanced).
  • Every dance will be given a rating based on their score. The highest possible score in the American League is Grand Slam. The next highest rating is Platinum (this is the highest in all other divisions). Next comes High Gold, Gold, and finally, High Silver.
  • A first place notation is given to the highest scoring number in each category (by specific age and style of dance).
  • After giving the “adjudications” (rating), the dances were then rated in the overall category. This would be where all the National Level, Junior Level dances are ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. The number of rankings depends on the number of entries.
  • Something not noted, but we found out Sunday morning, is that they also do a “Best in Category Award.” They give awards to the best tap, best jazz, etc…


Grace’s tap small group danced Friday night, and got 1st Place Platinum. They also got 2nd overall, and on Sunday, they were announced as tying for Best in Tap.

Saturday, almost the entire competitive group danced their production number. They scored 1st Place Platinum, won a choreography award, and took first overall!

Sunday, Grace’s 3 large groups danced. All three scored 1st Place Platinum. Their contemporary dance was oven an Intensity Award, and scored 3rd overall. Their tap dance tied for 4th place. Their jazz dance got 1st overall, and Best in Jazz!

Over all, Lake Area Dance Center did very well. Many dances placed, were given special awards, and took Best in Category for the National Level dances.



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.


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.”


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!


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.


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! ;-)

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