Jamberry vs Color Street Nail Wraps

I used to buy a lot of Jamberry nail wraps. They have a ton of super cute colors and patterns. I bought the whole application bundle for applying them, which included a small heater, pouch to hold them all, cuticle pusher, scissors, etc. For a while, I was applying them all the time, until my nails started getting brittle from the adhesive (I have sensitive skin, and apparently, nails). I would take a break to let them heal (or use polish for a bit instead). Once they were stronger again, I would reapply, and adore my cute nails. I also love their lacquers (aka polish). It lasts longer than most polishes I have tried, and have coordinating colors with most of their wraps.

Jamberry wraps and lacquer mixed for a fun manicure.

In the past year, I guess I’ve gotten fairly lazy about my nails, and haven’t done much of anything with them…

I was given a gift of Color Street nail wraps a while back. I didn’t know what to expect. It took me a while to try them. I decided to do a little comparison of the two different kinds of nail wraps. I found some cute chevron Jamberry wraps I had that happened to match a light purple glittery Color Street one I had been gifted. I need to practice a bit more with the Color Street to make it fit better on my nails, but I think my manicure turned out super cute (the pic is a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea)!

Chevron by Jamberry, Glitter by Color Street

After about four days, I lost the chevron nail off my ring finger. Previously, I’ve never lost a Jamberry nail wrap that soon after putting them on. I contacted my friend who used to sell them, and she said the adhesive might wear out after time. I really don’t know how long ago I got the Jamberry nail wraps – it’s possible that they were super old.

The Color Street nail wraps come in a sealed package, so they were more fresh. My friend who sells Color Street told me that anything left over after I put them on should be put in a zip lock baggie so they don’t dry out.

By 10 days after I put them on, I had no Jamberry nail wraps left on either hand, and both of the Color Street ones were still there. Several of the nails that had the Jamberry nail wraps were peeling layers off, and were breaking. I have never had them get so brittle the first time I wore the nail wraps! Usually if I had wraps on for a month or so without taking a break (a month was usually 2-3 sets), then I would start to notice damage. I’m so bummed, I went from nice long nails, to very short, damaged nails. I have a new set of Color Street nails that I want to put on for Halloween, but my nails are short now, and much of the design will likely be lost. 😦

Nail damage from using a Jamberry nail wrap … possibly because it’s old?

After doing a little research, I have discovered that Jamberry now has nail wraps and lacquer strips. I tasked what the difference was. Apparently, the nail wraps require heating to put them on, and are thicker. They cannot be stretched hardly at all. The lacquer strips do not require heat to apply, are a bit stretchier, and can be filed off. Application of the lacquer strips sounds more like the Color Street ones. I may need to order some to do a better comparison.

Now that I know they have another product that is closer to Color Street, I can’t make a fair claim yet as to which brand of nail wraps I like better. I think I will order a set of the lacquer wraps from Jamberry to do a direct comparison of fresh products from each.

From what I know so far, here are my observations about each brand:

Jamberry

  • Jamberry has many more options in designs and colors.
  • Jamberry has more variety of products available – nail wraps, lacquer strips, lacquer, gel polish, etc.
  • Jamberry’s process of using heat to apply the nail wraps originally took me a while to master, but there were nail wrap sizes that fit all my fingers, and the results were always great.
  • Jamberry wraps are thicker, with only a little stretch.
  • Jamberry typically lasted about 10 days before falling off (when fresh).
  • Jamberry damaged my nails over time. The adhesive stripped off layers of my nail, and made them brittle.
  • If I broke a nail with Jamberry on, the entire wrap would fall off with the broken part.
  • Jamberry comes with enough wraps for 2 full manicures, plus a few extra for accent nails or toes.

Color Street

  • Color Street wraps are thinner, and have more stretch.
  • Color Street has a simple application process – just peel the front, peel the back, stretch to fit your nails, file them off at the end. At first glance, it seemed they didn’t quite fit, but with a little stretch, I could make them fit, and then use the edge of a nail stick to cut off any excess on the sides.
  • Color Street lasted a full two weeks before I removed them. There was no damage to the nails underneath.
  • When I broke a nail with the Color Street wrap on it, the wrap tore off at the same point as my nail. The rest of the nail still had the wrap on it.
  • Color Street wraps come with enough wraps for two whole manicures, or several accent nails, a nail prep pad (alcohol wipe), and a nail file. I originally thought there was only one set of nails in the package, but when I opened it, there were two inside.
Here’s what comes in your order from each company. The set on the left is from Jamberry, the set on the right, is from Color Street.

Both

  • Both brands are similarly priced .
  • Both offer Buy 3, Get 1 Free on their wraps.

It’s been a busy year so far!

I started this post back in February, before the Pandemic hit the US, before quarantines, and before “new normals”. Rather than talk about that aspect of life in this post, I’m going to complete this post, as I have too many incomplete posts that I started, but never finished in my queue… this post was pretty much done, all I had to do was add pictures…

“Without dance occupying so much of my time, I thought I’d have a lot of extra time. Boy, was I wrong!

Since the beginning of the school year, much of my time has been full with other activities. Some of them include:

The Bear Water Run starts early with on site registration and bib pick up.

 

 

 

 

Michaels 1st Homecoming dance. He has been friends with most of these girls since early elementary school.

  • Watching Michael go to his very first Homecoming dance with a group of friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the ones we paid for, there were photo ops everywhere at Galaxycon!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace and the other performers did a lot of dancing, but they also sang at the tree lighting ceremony at Keg and Case.

  • Watching Grace perform in her first show and several promotional performances at the Mall of America, Keg and Case, and the Southern Theater, with the Minnesota Dance Collaborative

 

 

 

 

 

Rumble on the Red is a HUGE tournament in Fargo, ND every year.

  • Watching my step son, Dysin, wrestle Varsity for the White Bear Lake Bears (he’s a Senior this year). Wrestling took us to Fargo, ND for the Rumble on the Red, and to Rochester, as well as all the local schools.

    The first tournament of the year, Dysin got 2nd place. It was pretty awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother and his wife joined us on the Halloween Pub Crawl.

  • We went on a Halloween Pub Crawl with a bunch of my friends.

 

 

 

 

Michael has had a few Jiu Jitzsu lessons with Grand Master Pat Worley.

 

 

 

 

We had so much fun playing Nerdettes in the 2020 show!

 

 

 

 

 

  • We finished our karaoke room, and had several karaoke parties, including an 80’s themed one, a Tropical Themed one, and a great New Years Eve party with neighbors and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

We saw the Chainsmokers with some of our neighborhood friends.

 

  • Jason and I have been to see a few concerts, including seeing The Chainsmokers and Deadmau5. We actually saw Deadmau5 twice, once here in the Twin Cities, and once in Chicago.

    We saw Deadmau5 in the Twin Cities with some of Jason’s friends.

We saw Deadmau5 in Chicago with our friend Tasha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between all of this, I have been sick with stomach issues, and cold after cold (perks of being a preschool teacher where I’m being coughed and sneezed on all day, every day). I have been hoping to do more blogging, but my energy has been lacking this whole school year. Illness, and being busy have eaten up a lot of my time.”

 

Well, here’s hoping that being quarantined gets us all healthy, and helps me find my energy. I am hoping to take more time to do the things I enjoy, while also learning to do things like work at home. As you can see, I love being around people. It’s great being with our family, but looking forward to being able to hang out with our friends again. Happy 2020!

Making a playlist from mp3 songs on a Samsung Galaxy

I will be in the upcoming Lion’s Club Show. We were given the cuts of all the songs we are singing as mp3 files in a shared Google folder. I wanted to be able to make a playlist of all the songs, so that I could listen to them and practice in the car (or while I am doing things around the house) and not have to click on each song to play them. I googled how to do that, and couldn’t figure it out. After talking it through with our Dance Captain, Jen Finger, I was able to get it to work.

Here’s what I did on My Samsung Galaxy 10 (these are not the same steps you would take on an iphone, or with itunes):

1. Go to the list of mp3 tracks, in this case, the ones I wanted to add were in Google Drive.
2. Click on the 3 dots on the right of the track you want to put in your playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Check the button that says “Available Offline” and “Download”. I’m not sure if it would still work if you didn’t click “Available Offline” or not, but it was suggested, and overall, it worked, so I included it in the steps I did. I would recommend downloading all the songs you want in your playlist before moving on to the next step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Open the Play Music app. This was an app that was already on my phone when I got it. It is a google-based app, so it may be found with those, or in your app list. The app asked me to subscribe when I first opened it. I clicked “no thanks.”

 

5. Click on the word “Songs”. You may need to scroll to the right a bit. The songs you just downloaded should show up on your song list.

6. Click on the 3 dots to the right of the song you want to put in your playlist.

 

7. Click on “Add to playlist”

 

8. Another pop up box will let you choose the playlist you want to put the song in.

9. Click on New Playlist at the bottom of the window.

 

10. Add the title you want for your new playlist. Then click “Create Playlist.”

 

11. Go back to the song list, and click on the 3 dots again.

12. Click add to playlist, and choose the one you just created.

Once you are done adding all the songs, your playlist should be built, and you should be able to listen to them like any other playlist. Scroll back over to Playlist to the far left at the top of the Home screen, and click on the playlist.

I hope this helps! Good luck making your own playlist from mp3 files. Please let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

GalaxyCon 2019

The weekend of November 8-10, 2019, we went to GalaxyCon in Minneapolis. The weekend had so many highlights, it will be hard to put them all in one post.

GalaxyCon is described as a “celebration of fandoms”. We saw lots of people dressed in cosplay for many different “fandoms.” We saw people dressed in Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel MCU (including Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, and Deadpool), DC, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Disney Princesses, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, Back to the Future, Steven Universe, many video game characters, and Jay and Silent Bob cosplays. There were too many to list them all.

In addition to cosplayers, there were aisles and aisles of booths, selling everything from Fan Art, to comic books, to jewelry, to clothing items for everyday use, or for cosplay. I got some Incredibles earrings to wear when my preschool team dresses as the Incredibles for Super Hero Day. My son got a Battle Ax from the game “Gods of War”. All of us bought art.

There were booths with celebrities, comic book writers and illustrators, voice actors, wrestlers, cosplayers, even nerdlesque performers. There were several stage areas set up for different panels, classes, and shows. There was a video game area where people could play video games for hours, tabletop games area where people could check out and play (or learn) hundreds of table top games, and a wrestling mat set up for wrestling matches and panels.

Skeletor vs Deadpool

Many events that can be found at other cons for an additional fee were included in the price of admission for all attendees. Among some of the free events were the FSCW (Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling) that took place each evening, Costume contests, celebrity panels, shows (such as the cosplay tap shows by Noise Complaint, and the Nerdlesque show by The Vigilantease Collective), karaoke, dance parties, sing-a-longs, and more! I even got to take a tap class with Noise Complaint on Friday night.

Selfie with Catherine Tate. She was so much fun to hang with for our 5 minutes or so!

Many celebrities were at this event, and available for Photo Ops, Autographs, and Selfies. These were available for an extra charge. Since this was only the second Con we had ever been to as a family, we took advantage of the fact that so many people we wanted to meet were there. We were most looking forward to meeting David Tennant, but he canceled the week before the event. We still met many cool celebrities from Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek (original and TNG), Doctor Who, Karate Kid/Cobra Kai, Clerks and Mallrats, and more. Highlights for me, were Michael Rooker (Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy), Catherine Tate (Donna from Doctor Who), Alex Kingston (River Song on Doctor Who and Dr. Elizabeth Corday on ER), and Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker on Star Trek TNG). A highlight for my daughter, was meeting one of the creators of Spider-Gwen, Robbi Rodriguez. She was cosplaying as Spider-Gwen, and he signed some of the art that she bought.

Photo Op with Sean Gunn.

Photo op with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.

We bought VIP tickets for me and Jason, so we wouldn’t have to wait in the long lines for Photo Ops. It was well worth the money! If this had been my first ever Con, I’d have been hooked from Day 1! I will definitely go again when GalaxyCon comes back next Fall!

Michael went into our photo op with Michael Rooker with an untied shoe. Rooker stopped the photographer, and tied the shoe, much to my embarrassment. We all had a good laugh in the end.

Grad Party

Earlier this summer, we had Grace’s graduation party. It was a lot of work, but oh so worth it! We were grateful for everyone that came, and had a wonderful time!

We had settled on the date several months before. Grace wanted to wait until after Nationals, so we did it the weekend after. Unfortunately, that meant many of the dance families were unable to come, as they had vacations planned for that time. Another one of the graduating dancers had hers the same day, and we missed being able to go to hers too.

Once we had the date chosen, it was time to create the facebook invite, and later, physical invitations. We used Walgreens to print our invitations to mail out, as well as the photos we printed for photo boards. I had several formatting issues with the website this time around, and was frustrated to find that close to 200 invitations went out with her school’s name cut off in the middle. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after most of them were mailed out. Oh well. We also had issues with some of the photos being cropped by their system, unbeknownst to me.  Walgreens did let us reprint them at no cost to us, I just had to turn in all the ones that were cut off. I have used this site many times in the past with no issues, and probably will continue to, now that I know what to watch for.

Leading up to Grace’s grad party, I spent a lot of time working on her scrapbooks. They were only previously completed up to about age 3, so I had a long ways to go. I decided I would start with her dance years, get as much of those done as I could, get her graduation day done, and then work backwards as much as I had time for. I knew there was no way I could do it all on time, but was ok with doing as much as I could, and calling it good. I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I had hoped, but it was ok.  I knew we’d have photo boards too. While I spent hours picking out photos for those, Grace did all the work of putting the photos on the boards. It was fun to watch people looking at the pictures, scrapbooks, etc.

Food

Deciding on food was tricky. Grace originally wanted her party to be held for a shorter time span, in the morning/early afternoon, and to serve brunch foods. She wanted a coffee bar, too. She had been to a grad party like that the year before, and really liked it.  For various reasons, including other people’s schedules, cost and effort to make all that happen, we settled for 11-4 as the time span. It seemed like it would be too long, but with the number of people we had come, I’m glad we ended up spreading it over most of the day. As it was, I was not able to spend time talking to most of the people here, other than a quick hello.

After realizing we couldn’t quite make her original food plan work, she said,  “How about a taco bar?” I was thrilled, because that would be relatively easy to pull together. Then, she changed her mind to a pasta bar. After talking to a friend who had done that for her daughter’s party, about the logistics, I said no. In the end, we settled on pasta, but not a “build-your-own”. We had all pasta dishes that were pre-mixed. I made spaghetti, a chicken pasta salad, tortellini alfredo, homemade mac and cheese, and we had meatballs with and without sauce. I asked the grandmas who would be willing to help with food, and they all offered to bring a pasta hotdish, or pasta salad. My mother-in-law also brought pickle roll-ups, a staple at our family gatherings. 🙂 Needless to say, we had plenty of food!

We did have coffee, but not where we paid a barista to come make espressos, cappuccinos, etc. That was way to expensive for my budget. We borrowed a large coffee carafe from the White Bear Lake Lions’ Club, ordered flavor syrups, stir sticks, and marshmallows from Amazon, and disposable cups from Costco. We got several flavors of Coffee Mate Creamers, and set up our own coffee bar. It turned out really cute – wish I’d have gotten a picture of it!

Another thing we did a bit different, is that Grace did not want a cake. She didn’t really care for cupcakes either. She asked if we could just have bars. I ordered three trays from Cub Foods. My mother-in-law also brought brownies. Her grandma on her dad’s side had special cookies made at Cub Foods with the theater masks on them, since Grace wants a future in the performing arts. They were so cute! My friend makes amazing Oreo Balls, and Grace had asked if she would be willing to make some of those for the party as well. She wasn’t sure she’d be at the party, since she was about to have a baby, and I felt bad even asking her. That said, Jenny was very willing to make them, and dropped them off a couple days before. Another friend brought chocolate covered strawberries. We had a great spread of desserts!

Set Up

We just built our house this past year, so we didn’t have grass yet. Our driveway was recently put in, so couldn’t have chairs or anything on the driveway. We knew the party would mostly be held in the garage, and decided to have the food in the house due to the heat of the day, and space. We ended up also having some of the pictures, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia inside too.

We borrowed several tables and plenty of chairs from Grace’s dance studio (Lake Area Dance Center). We also borrowed a couple of tables and chairs from a friend of ours. Most of the table covers, centerpieces, etc. came from Party City or Walmart.

Planning Your Own

When planning an event like a grad party, it’s smart to start early. I had good intentions of working on scrapbooks, organizing photos on my computer, etc. over the past year, but life kept me busy, and I was scrambling towards the end. We did pick up supplies over time, so as not to spend so much all at once. I watched for sales, and picked things up as I saw them. Even at the last minute, we ended up spending quite a bit on food, last minute items, plates, etc. Having some of the details such as color scheme (her school doesn’t really have a specific color), food, etc. picked out ahead of time could have helped us watch for sales on things like pasta, table coverings, etc.

Borrow where you can. We saved a lot of money by borrowing tables, chairs, and the coffee pot.

We also reused a few of the decorations from our past graduates. We had more decorations for Grace’s, but are saving the new items we got, for the two future graduates in our house. Getting generic graduation items, and not year or school specific can be a way to save money, so they can be used again if you have multiple children. We did have a couple things that said “Class of 2019”, but most just said “Graduate”, or “Congratulations”.

 

 

 

Have help! Our friend was in town from Michigan. She was amazingly helpful during the entire party. Every time I came to check on the plates of bars or cookies, she would have just refilled them. We had plain meatballs, and meatballs in sauce. As the ones in sauce went, she would move some of the plain over. She monitored the pastas in crock pots, stirring them as needed, etc. Though I was still very busy through the day – giving tours, attempting to chat with people, etc, I would have been much more so, had it not been for all her help. She also helped me the next morning, as I took everything down in the garage.

In the end, we could have done without some of the things we did, because it’s really all about the graduate. As long as they feel loved, and feel special, that’s what really matters. I can say for certain that Grace did! 🙂

Project Repat T-shirt Quilt

I had a quilt made from as many of Grace’s dance and other activities’ shirts as I could find. Sadly, I couldn’t find any of her baseball/softball shirts to add, or her White Bear Choir shirt, and there were a few years of dance that I couldn’t find the shirts for either. I should have done a better job of hanging on to those over the years.

I had seen many of these quilts in the past, and thought they were so cute! As I started pricing them out, I realized they could be VERY expensive! A friend told me about a company called Project Repat. He had ordered more than one of these quilts from there, and had been very happy with them. He also told me that if I signed  up for their emails, they often have 40% off coupon codes you could use, which made it very affordable.

With Project Repat, you don’t get cute borders on your quilt, or any other embellishments. It’s just the squares, cut from your shirts, sewn together, with a fleece background. This was fine with me, because it was definitely something I wouldn’t be able to do, and I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for it. This past year of dance was very expensive, as was the grad party, and everything else that goes with Senior Year.

How-to

Ordering was easy. From the website, I just had to pick the size of the blanket, the size of the squares, and choose a color of fleece for the back. I chose a Full-sized blanket (30 squares).

Then, they send you directions. Basically, you just take the shirts, cut them along the seams on the sides, and send in the 1/2 of each shirt you want on the quilt. The shipping for the shirts is not included, but shipping for them to send the blanket to you is. I think it cost me close to $20 to ship all the shirts in.

I ordered it, and set to work to find all the shirts. I was a few short, so I spent some time searching Goodwill, and asking friends to help me find a Choir shirt. In the end, I included the backs of some of the shirts with all the names of all the dancers from that year. A couple of the shirts were tank tops. Apparently, two of them were too small for the 12″ squares. They emailed me a bill for $10 because they had to add fabric to the backs of those to fit the quilt. I had saved so much with the 40% off coupon, I didn’t mind paying that amount.

Once I sent them in, it was only about 2 weeks before I got the quilt back. I was impressed with the speed it came. Grace loved it when she came home, and saw it spread out on her bed! 🙂

What would I change?

After getting it, the quilt was a little shorter than I expected. When they cut the squares, some of the words/graphics were cut off a few of the shirts. I wish I’d have ordered 15″ squares instead of the standard 12″. A border around the blanket would have been cute. I’m not even sure if that was an option, but it is fine the way it is!

Overall, I was very happy with my experience with Project Repat, and the quilt that came and helps us commemorate several part of Grace’s life!

Masquerade Nationals 2019

“Last time, make it good!” This is a phrase you’ll hear at the end of class from our competitive dancers. It also applies to Nationals. This is the last time dancers will perform the routines they have worked all year on. For graduating seniors, it has another meaning – it’s the last time most of them will dance competitively. Some may go on to dance in college, but for most, this is the end of that road. Some of our dancers will be assistants or teachers at the dance studio next year; they may be around competitions in that capacity, but otherwise, this is the end of that chapter.

Day 1 – Dancer of the Year Auditions

Day 1 for Grace was her Dancer of the Year Auditions. This consisted of having headshots taken, an interview, and then audition classes in several styles. The end of the day brought feedback from all four judges. This year, they got their feedback on a thumb drive. Grace let me watch it. It sounds like it could be a very helpful experience for anyone who wants to pursue a career in performing arts (much of the feedback was dance related, but not all of it). I kind of wish she had done this more than just this year and last year. She said she learned a lot, and she got to know some of the other senior dancers better as well.

Day 2 – Solos

Day 2 was solo day. Grace performed both her solos. She felt it was the best she had performed her self-choreographed solo, and felt good about her musical theater routine as well. She was disappointed with her scores, as she got High Gold on both.  After every 50 or so routines, they had a quick awards ceremony to give the adjudication awards (Gold, High Gold, Platinum, or Unmasked Elite – based on their point totals). Grace had an award ceremony between her two routines. I know she was disappointed to find out she had scored a High Gold on the first one. I can’t help but wonder if that psychs some dancers out when they have more to perform. By having multiple awards ceremonies, they make the last one of the day (with the overall placements) go faster, but I wonder if it is the best for the dancers?

Day 3 – Small Groups

The 4 graduating Seniors and their moms. 🙂

Day 3 was small group day. The day was split in half, so the younger dancers had their small groups in the morning, and the older dancers were in the afternoon/evening. Grace went early to help out if needed, while I stayed and watched the younger dancers from home on the livestream. I went to watch the teens and seniors’ small groups later in the day. First up was their tap dance. They all looked like they were having so much fun! They got a Platinum score. Next was their contemporary, which looked really good, and scored a High Gold. The last small group of the day for Grace was the graduating seniors. I think it was the best they had performed it; there was a lot of emotion in their performance. They scored a High Gold. We had planned the day before to take some group pictures after this performance. The four dancers were willing participants, making the moms happy!

Day 4 – Large Groups

Day 4 was large group day. Grace had 6 dances that day over a 13 hour or so span of time. They danced their hearts out all day long! I was very proud of all their performances. First up was tap, followed by their musical theater dance. Both scored a High Gold. Next up was their Heels Company musical theater piece. That one scored platinum. Production was the next one of the day – this one has almost all of our studio’s competitive dancers. Our Game Show Network routine got a platinum, and got 1st overall. Grace really liked this dance, and said it was a great last production dance for her. Later came their contemporary large group which scored a High Gold. Hip Hop was next on the agenda. This routine wasn’t originally going to go to Nationals, but we had paid a lot for their guest choreography, and really wanted to see it one more time. Maria made this happen for us, and thank goodness she did. We got to see it not just one more time, but twice, since they got called back to be in the Senior Encore Dance Off in the finals. This is a really fun routine, that brought out the “thug” in these girls (haha). They nailed it on Friday! Last up was their jazz Line that was made up of our Pre-teens, Teens, and Seniors. They had a JT-themed routine. Imagine our surprise when the dance right before them was also a JT themed line! The concepts were very different, even if much of the music was similar. Theirs was more Suit & Tie themed, where ours was more back-up dancer style with lots of hair whips, and heeled boots. Our girls got a Platinum score, 3rd Overall, a Judges’ Award, and were invited back to the Finals in the Production/Line Dance Off. It was a long, but very fun day!

Day 5 – Finals

Day 5 was the Finals. This is always a high energy, exciting day. We had 15 dancers in the opening number, which was Moulan Rouge themed. It was one of my top 3 favorite opening numbers in the 8 years we have been attending Masquerade Nationals. Our Minis were in the Petite Encore Dance Off. We had three dancers in the Dancer of the Year Finals (a first for our studio), one of whom, Bella, was also in the Teen Divisional Champion Dance Off with her duet with her sister. It is a hilarious Musical Theater routine that made me laugh right up to the very last performance of the year. Our Junior/Preteen tap small group was in the Junior Division National Champion Dance Off. I already mentioned that Grace’s Hip Hop group was in the Senior Encore Performance Finals, and that her jazz Line was invited to the National Champion Line/Production Dance Off. Our Teen tap large group was in the Large Group Dance Off. They were the first group from our studio to score an Unmasked Elite. While none of our routines from our studio were National winners, we had a great time watching them all perform a last time!

In10sity Dance Comp.

Senior Recognition – Grace, Paige, Morgan, Niki

This past dance season, Lake Area Dance Center had several firsts as a studio. Traveling to Davenport, IA was one, trying a new competition, In10sity Dance, was another.

The Venue

This competition was held at Edina High School. It was a smaller competition, so this was a good place to have it. There was one large room that served as the dressing room for all the studios. It only got a little crowded for a while. Only our Teens and Seniors went to this competition (and a couple solos and duets, as it was an optional competition studio-wide for those). If our whole studio had been there, it would have been way too many for the dressing room area.

The auditorium at the high school was beautiful! Every seat was a good seat to watch from. The music was played WAY too loud though. The high tones in the music actually hurt my ears, it was so loud. It doesn’t usually bother me that bad.

The biggest downside of this venue was that there were no concessions. There weren’t even vending machines, as far as I could see. It would have been nice if they had least had beverages and candy or something at the merchandise table. Many people brought their own food, but several also ordered it in. People could have planned better if they had known there’d be no food or drinks.

Grace was so excited about her results with her solos!

The Competition

As I already mentioned, this competition was smaller. It had a similar feel to it as BravO! in both size and energy. Grace did her two solos, all three small groups, and 4 of her large groups.

Large and small groups from both teams that attended danced very well. Grace’s contemporary large group won a precision award, and placed 2nd overall. Our Teen tap large group won a choreography award, as did our Senior small group. Congratulations to studio owner, Maria Pomerleau for her tap choreography, and to guest choreographer Katelyn Bloomquist for her small group choreography. Special awards were also given for their Technical difficulty, Entertainment factor, and Costumes.

Grace’s solos got one Platinum, and one High Gold. She got 7th overall, out of 22 dances. This is the first time she has ever placed at a competition, so she was very excited! She earned a half scholarship to one of their intensives, or admission to next year’s competition.

Emilia got 8th place with her contemporary dance, an a Judges Award. Grace, got 7th with her contemporary dance.

She was also selected as an “In10nse Dancer”, along with Emilia, another dancer from our studio. This recognition gave her an invitation to come to their Nationals, and be in their opening number.

I liked that this competition did a Senior appreciation moment. They had all the graduating Seniors stand up, and honored them for all their hard work over their years of dancing. It was very sweet, and they gave a nice pep talk as well.

During awards, the judges also had a pep talk with all the dancers. I appreciate when they do this. It seems like this is happening at more competitions. I think it’s important for dancers to hear that their scores, or their overall placement does not equal their worth as a dancer or as a person. Many dancers (my own included) sometimes forget that. It’s about the effort, and the prep of each dancer. It’s about the lessons learned. It’s about the time and love that instructors put into each routine, costume, and prop.

Grace and Emilia getting invited to be in the In10sity Nationals opening number.

Improv

Like many of the competitions we attend, In10sity had improve contests. They did it a bit different at this competition. At most competitions, dancers don’t know what they will be dancing to until they are on stage. At In10sity, they let dancers hear the music for the first round first. Then, they got to go on stage and do their improv. The rest of the rounds were done in the traditional manner.

Divisions and Other Notes

The program was very small, due to the size of the comp. They did not have a place to write awards, though they seemed to go at a pace that you could mostly follow along in the program. Can’t we just agree that all programs should have a place to write the awards? It would just be easier for everyone! They did have the rules written in the back though, which helped, because the different levels were not immediately obvious. Dancers either competed at a Debut (Novice/Beginner), Premier (Intermediate), or Elite level. Levels were noted by a letter in parenthesis after the name of the routine. It was a bit confusing if you weren’t used to the way they do it.

Similar to the Title Competition that most competitions have, this one had the Con10tion Title Program. At some competitions, you have to pay extra to compete for the title, at some, you are automatically qualified if you have at least 2 solos. This one had a solo and improv element to it, with some pretty great prizes! I’m guessing there was an extra fee, though, it is not stated in the rules. Winners won a $500 cash prize, full In10sity Dance Scholarship, jacket, etc. Some dancers won a Joffrey Intensive scholarship as well. I’m guessing not many of the studios that were present at this competition knew about it (or it was very high priced to participate). Only one studio had dancers that went for it. I know we have a couple that would have tried, otherwise.

In10sity Award

Lake Area Dance Center won the In10sity Award. For this award, they take the highest scoring, non-solo, routines, and average their scores. The highest average score (LADC) won $1000! Congratulations to LADC for this accomplishment – WERK!

 

 

Masquerade, Davenport, 2019

This year, our studio, Lake Area Dance Center, tried something new – we traveled out of state for a dance competition. We braved a snow storm, to travel 6 hours to Davenport, Iowa for Masquerade. Of course, we could have waited until the next day to go, but with dance competitions, you don’t get the final schedule until a week before. We knew Grace’s solos would be on Friday, but didn’t know what time, so our hotel reservations were already booked for that Thursday night. Luckily, it ended up being a snow day for our schools, so we were able to leave earlier in the day, and take our time to get down there. It was terrifying, and took 7 1/2 hours vs the 6 it should have, but we made it safely.

We stayed at the Blackhawk Hotel, which was connected to the RiverCenter, where the competition was to be held.

The hotel was historic, yet had some updates to it. It had a very cool feel. There was a pool and hot tub (unfortunately, after spending some time in the hot tub on Thursday night, the hot tub broke for the rest of the weekend). There was a nice little workout room, where some of our dancers spent time during the long weekend. There was also a bar with bowling. We didn’t get to use the bowling, since it was in use the night we had time. There was also a restaurant, bar, and a cafe, where we got Starbucks each day.

The Rivercenter was a nice little walk across a skyway away. I heard many mixed responses about it as a venue for the competition, but I loved having it right there. It allowed me to go back to the room to grab food for us for lunch, take a little longer to get ready when Grace had to be there 2 hours early, etc.

The Venue

The RiverCenter had a large auditorium for the competition in the lower level from the skyway. There were several smaller conference rooms on the main level that served as dressing rooms. We went up and down those steps a lot over the course of the weekend – especially the dancers! My legs were burning, I can’t imagine how much more sore theirs were!

The downside of their setup, was that the stage was on one end, with chairs set up filling the rest of the hall. In the middle, was the raised area where the cameras were set up. It was strategically placed so that it really didn’t block any views, which was good. I think we have been so spoiled by having auditorium seating at most other competitions. When all the seating is at the same level, by the time you get to the back of the room, it is harder to see what is going up on that stage. For people like me who tend to prefer sitting in the balcony so I can see everything happening on stage, the chairs were not my favorite. I sat up closer for solos, but further back for groups. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but I heard a lot of complaints about that aspect of this competition from other parents.

The Competition

Masquerade is like a 2nd home to us. Even being in a different city, we saw familiar faces in the competition staff, and familiar judges. We knew what to expect from the different levels – green, gold, and purple vs novice/recreational, intermediate, and advanced/elite. We also had an idea of what it would take to score a platinum score, or newly added this year “Elite Unmasked” (a score of 291-300). What we didn’t know, was what to expect from the other studios. We are used to competing against many of the same studios at each competition. Since we were in another state, we knew nothing about the other studios. The studios present were very good! We saw different styles of choreography and costuming. We saw moves we haven’t seen before, and we saw classic musical theater that we don’t always see in the Twin Cities. We saw new uses of props, and dancers bringing their own props on stage to set up. In MN, it’s usually the Prop Dads and teachers that bring out and set up props. I thought it was refreshing to have new faces, new styles, and new studios.

Being out of state kind of forced us to be somewhat of a captive audience. I got to see almost all the dances from our studio. It was fun to see and support them all. 🙂 Listening to the Mini’s parents was adorable!

Most of Grace’s routines got a platinum score. A couple scored a high gold. The energy was great! This year’s Pre-Teen – Senior Jazz Line, “Women of the Woods” got an encore, which meant they got to perform their routine twice. They ended up winning the encore award! It was so much fun!

Being that this was our last year, I can’t say that I look forward to traveling for competitions again. Maybe Grace will get to if she is teaching any Competitive groups next year. I hope the studio keeps the tradition. I think it brought many dancers and families closer together.

Last Recital

Saturday night marked the end of 15 years of studio dancing for my daughter. It was Lake Area Dance Center (LADC)’s Annual Recital, and the last for Grace.

Her Journey

Grace’s 1st recital at Dancin’ Feet – a ballet dance to “Jesus Loves Me”.

This girl started dancing at the age of three. We knew she’d be a dancer, because she was tapping her feet since before she could even walk. With a mom and aunt who were both dancers, it’s no surprise, but it was Grace who wanted to dance. She started at Dancin’ Feet, where her cousin’s cousin, Mikayla danced. For 2 years, she did tap and ballet. Her 2nd recital, her tap shoe came untied. Her assistant teacher hopped up on stage to tie it for her. As she was tying the shoe, Grace kept on tapping with her other foot, smiling as big as ever. When she was 5, she wanted to do the extra Father-Daughter dance, which started rehearsing mid-year.

Grace’s 1st recital at Eau Claire School of Dance – a tap dance to “Sea Cruise”.

Then, we moved to Chippewa Falls, where Grace joined the Eau Claire School of Dance. Kindergarten was the last year Grace tap danced a whole routine before coming back to Minnesota. When she was in 1st grade, her jazz class dwindled over the year to only 2 dancers. The owner was going to cancel the class, but both girls wanted to keep dancing, so she let them continue as a duet. They rocked the stage! In 2nd grade, Grace took ballet, and hip hop. In 3rd, she took hip hop, but also ended up dancing in the adult hip hop dance with me. We added our daughters about a month before the recital. Grace accepted the challenge, and learned our dance very quickly. After that year, she was invited to join the studio’s new youngest competition group. The next year, she competed in jazz and ballet. Late in the season, the entire competition group learned their production dance. It was tap, but they didn’t get their shoes until pretty close to the competition they performed at. She earned a “Terrific Tapper” award at the end of the year banquet for her small part tapping in this routine.

When we moved back to Minnesota, Grace was 10 years old. She wanted to keep competing. I wasn’t sure how it would go, coming back to the incredibly competitive Twin Cities. I wrote a post back then about how auditioning went. Maria, at LADC, took a chance on her 8 years ago, and we are so grateful she did.

Fast Forward

Grace’s 1st recital at Lake Area Dance Center – a lyrical dance to “God Bless America”.

Here we can fast forward to this year. Grace had 2 solos, one of which she choreographed; one tap small group; one contemporary small group; one lyrical small group, with the three Graduating Seniors that she started dancing with 8 years ago. She was also a part of Senior Elite Company (which did a tap, musical theater, and contemporary dance, in addition to being a part of Production, and a Jazz Line), she was in Senior Hip Hop Company, and Heels Company (a jazz/musical theater mixed age group). She was in a total of 12 dances, all of which I got to watch at Saturday night’s recital. It’s not the last time I have seen these routines, as she still has Nationals at the end of June. I think this is what helped me keep it together through the recital and Senior Send Off!

Grace, at her last recital, with the other 3 graduating Seniors that she started dancing with 8 years ago! Grace, Paige, Niki, and Morgan

Whether or not she will perform in another recital has yet to be seen, but I know she’s not done dancing. Her plans include teaching at Lake Area Dance Center through the summer, and hopefully into next year. She will be auditioning in the next year for performing arts schools, where she hopes to get her BFA, and receive the training and networking opportunities to eventually reach her goal of being in Broadway productions.

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