The last week of June, we were in Burnsville, MN for Masquerade‘s National Finals.
The “week” started for Grace on Friday, June 19th with Master Classes. While disappointed there wasn’t a tap class, she really enjoyed all the classes. Her favorites were a Neo-classical ballet class, where she learned new things about ballet and terms. She also enjoyed both classes taught by a studio favorite – Sarah Jo Fazio.
After master classes were over for the day, Masquerade had their Welcome party. The party consisted of a DJ with dance music and karaoke, and a table with chocolate fondue, fruits, and other “dunkables.” It took place in the Black Box room at the Ames Center, and seemed to really be more geared towards the kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, but many adults and teens didn’t participate… I liked last year’s model of dance party for kids/teens, and adult party upstairs…
The next day, Grace performed her solo for the last time of the year. She was really hoping for a platinum. She did an amazing job, probably the best I saw all year. She hit almost all her tap sounds, had great expression, etc. While she did not achieve her goal of platinum, she was very proud of her performance, as was I! I’d say high gold at Nationals is pretty darn good for a first year soloist! :-)
This year, I was asked to teach summer school. Unfortunately for me, it started the same week as Nationals! I reluctantly accepted the position, knowing I would be missing several of Grace’s dances. She was a great sport about it, saying that as long as I could make sure she got there, and had her hair done, she would be fine. After all, she said, I had seen all her dances at the other competitions.
Another family who lives close by, offered to drive Grace on Monday and Tuesday mornings (they ended up bringing her to Finals on Wednesday as well, even though she wasn’t dancing). I got up early, did her hair, and dropped her off at the friend’s house. I missed her small group tap dance on Monday. I heard it went well, though, she said they had done better before… Tuesday morning, we had to get up even earlier, as I was doing the hair of the girl who’s mom was driving Grace. They got her there in plenty of time, and she danced her large group tap dance Tuesday. I went both days right after preschool was done, and was able to get there to watch all of the other dances my daughter was in.
Tuesday was a really long day for dancers, as the schedule started with the youngest dancers, at the recreational levels for each style, and worked their way to the Purple (Elite) Seniors. Then, they moved on to the next style. The first dance of the day for our studio was at approx. 8:27 am, and awards were at 10:15 pm. There were some long breaks in between dances.
During one of these breaks, a couple of other Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) moms and I took a group of the Teens out to Olive Garden for dinner. We sat WAY on the other side of the restaurant as those crazy kids, and really enjoyed ourselves. We heard they had fun too, and the waitress came over and told us that they were very respectful and well behaved. Thank goodness! :-)
Several LADC dances got nominated for Audience Choice awards. Many dances from our studio received platinum scores, and/or placed in the top 5 in their divisions. The Seniors, who had worked hard to make some changes to their dances in the weeks leading up to Nationals, had their best showing yet. their hard work paid of with those platinums in the purple division! YAY girls!!
Wednesday was Finals, the most fun day of the week (for me, anyway). Finals are when we get to see the best of the best following an incredible Parade of Stars dance. Six of our dancers, plus several we know or recognize from other studios, were featured in this amazing dance mixed with magic!
Several LADC dances were in the finals. Our Sparkles were in the Petite Encore performance category and won!! Other dances included Olivia Johnson as a Junior Division National Champion Dance Off contender; our seniors with their contemporary dance in the Senior Encore Performance division; Lauren Hinds representing in the Mini Division National Champion Dance Off; and small group, Bad, competing in the National Champion Intermediate Division Dance Off. Ending the night, Lake Area Dance was awarded 3rd place Top Intermediate Studio of the Year.
There were just a couple of things different this year. The most noticeable, was the backdrop. Instead of the usual static backdrop that always hangs behind the dancers, they had video screens in the background. They also had a large screen in the side of the auditorium that showed the dancers on stage. The screens in the background really added to the experience for the audience. It made it look very professional, by allowing them to add some really cool effects. Whoever had the job of setting those up, did an amazing job, because they went very well with the songs and styles of the dances. After talking to a few of the soloists, they said the screen on the side was distracting, because they could see it while on stage. I’m not really sure as to the point of that screen…
The second major thing I missed, was Sarah Fazio giving out Judges Choice awards on large group day. She usually is very motivational, and has wonderful things to say about the dancers. Judge Joseph Creagh gave them out instead on that day. While he did a fine job, his awards tended to be more for individuals, and less about the groups. On large group day, I felt that it really should have been about those groups and their performances as a whole, not just about individuals who performed exceptionally well. They also seemed to go on forever, because he had a whole day to acknowledge.
I often get questions about the timing of competitions… Nationals ran anywhere from on time, to an hour and a half ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the mobile app, while still mostly awesome, it was not as good at correctly communicating how far ahead the competition was running.
Nationals is always an exhausting, but fun week. The season is officially over, and summer dance is underway!
PS. I can’t end this post without acknowledging one person who was especially brave during Nationals. Before awards on large group day, they called Moms and Dads on stage for a dance off. I REALLY did not want to go, because I was exhausted from teaching summer school in the morning, and then being there all day. One of our other moms, Jenelle Nelson, went on stage, and was not afraid to be a little crazy. She blew my theory of “you can only win if you come from a large studio” out the window by winning the dance off!! Congratulations, and thank you for representing LADC!! :-)