Masquerade Dance Competition 2017

Two weeks ago, our studio, Lake Area Dance Center, attended our favorite competition of the year, Masquerade. It was held at the Ames Center in Burnsville, MN.

The competition was quite large this year, and was spread out to 6 days! This was the longest competition I think we’ve ever been to (at least on the regional level). Even without Grace doing a solo, her schedule was crazy this year! She had to dance 4 different days. The amount of time we spent there was worth it – we got to see some incredible dances!

Thursday night, Senior Company danced their three large group dances. They got a high gold on their jazz and tap dances, and platinum on their lyrical dance. Their jazz dance, “You Don’t Know My Name”, got the audience choice award for Musical Theater/Jazz. Friday, our Company Hip Hop group danced their routine, “Starving”. They got a platinum score. They also received a Judge’s Award for having a cool style, and for being a happy, chill hip hop dance with a story. Starving also got an Audience Choice Award. Our Teens’ lyrical/contemporary dance got an Audience Choice award as well.

Grace accepting the Judges Award for their Hip Hop Dance.

Saturday, Our Teen/Senior Line performed their jazz dance, “Welcome to Miami.” They got a platinum score, and were called back to do an encore. My favorite dances of the day were all asked to perform encores. Our dancers did an amazing job! They were highly energetic, very together… it was quite fun to watch! They ended up taking 2nd place in the Teen Purple Line Division. The dances that took 3rd, 4th, and 5th were the three dances that would have taken 1st, 2nd and 3rd in my mind. It was a very exciting night!!! I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen our studio owner, Miss Maria, that excited once before!

Sunday morning, bright and early, our dancers performed their Production number, Ultimate Fighters. It just might be my favorite dance of all time! It’s a high energy dance, with lots of great music!! They got called back to perform an encore. I didn’t get to see it, because I had to head back to work at the dance studio for a few hours. I heard they did well. They got a platinum score, and 2nd place overall.

Photo creds to Miss Maria for this shot of the entire Production Group!

A few additional notes (or more like random thoughts) from this competition:

*The Ames Center seemed to be colder than usual this year.

*Once again, the food did not disappoint. I’m very happy with the changes they’ve made to their menu offerings!

*A totally random note I wrote was that the lines between jazz and hip hop seem to be increasingly blurred…. I can’t help but wonder just where that line is?!? When it looks like hip hop, but is in the jazz category, how do the judges score that? It seems like jazz has become more of a catch-all category for the things that don’t quite fit in hip hop, or don’t quite fit in contemporary… as there are more and more styles of dance at the competitions, the lines between them move closer and closer together…

*This competition brings together some of the best of the best in the Twin Cities. With that, there were more platinum scores than I remember ever hearing at competitions in the past.

The picture only gives a slight idea of how much less space they had to practice in.

*The Ames Center Maui Wowie stand was moved during this competition. It was on the second floor where groups typically rehearse their  dances – this was a terrible spot! If there wasn’t constantly a line, it might not be quite such a problem. Even when they tried to direct the line differently so it didn’t block the rehearsal area, it was still in the way.

*Usually Masquerade does a pretty good job at volume control, but this week, portions were over the top loud. Especially the bass. I had a note on another page that said “turn down the bass!”

*The programs were not too expensive at $10 each. My only complaint, is that in the back, where they had the place  to write awards, some categories were missing (such as Junior Purple Large Groups). I would also add areas to write down Audience Choice awards, and even Judges’ Awards. During awards, they didn’t talk to the 1st place winners  in each division, like they usually do. They were over an hour ahead, pretty much the whole weekend. It would have been nice if they’d have spent a little bit of that time talking to the winners in different categories (they only did on some).

*The internet at the Ames Center more spotty than usual.

*One of the things that makes Masquerade so fun, is that during the breaks, they typically throw out lots of bead necklaces, and other fun things. This year, in the four days I was there, I think I only saw them do it once. It could be that when the younger kids were there, they did it more, but I didn’t see it very often. Even though my own daughter has outgrown the desire to get as many beads as she can, it is one of the things that is fun about this competition, traditionally.

*For a favorite competition that was a lot of fun, I sure had a lot of negative sounding critiques of different things. Sorry about that. I don’t typically like to be negative. Overall, the competition was great! Our dancers did well, and we got to see TONS of amazing dances from all over the Twin Cities!!

I look forward to our upcoming competition, the last Regional of the season. Then, it’s recitals, and Nationals!!!

 

Legacy Dance Championships – 2017

Our first competition of the season was Legacy Dance Championships. We have attended this competition for several years.

Our studio, Lake Area Dance Center, did very well this year. The top recognition we received, was the Legacy Award for ages 12 and over. My understanding, is that this is the award for the highest overall score average for the top 3 dances from each studio. It felt really good for our studio to be recognized this way, because there was a lot of tough competition! Some of the studios we saw included Arabesque School of Dance, DelMonico Dance, Dance Express, and more!

We also received several Best of _______ awards, in several different categories. Several groups and solos placed in the Top 10 in their categories. Our production number got 1st place. It’s so amazing! Our Senior Company Dancers (the group Grace is in this year), were slightly too large to be a large group this year. Instead, they danced as a Senior Line. Unfortunately, they did not have any competition in their division. That means they got 1st, 2nd and 3rd place with their lyrical, tap, and jazz dances. The biggest compliment came when they gave our dancers their 1st place award. They complimented the girls on their “Great use of their props” (rocking chairs), and said that they “Nailed it!”

The first couple of days of the competition, I saw complaints online from parents and teachers about how loud the competition was playing their music. By Sunday, the only day we were there, they seem to have gotten the message.  While it was still louder than it needed to be, it was not horrible.

The competition was held at the Ames Center, in Burnsville, MN. I know I say it every year, but this is our favorite venue for competitions. The free parking, park right outside, nearby Caribou … all great benefits of this location! Our biggest complaint about this venue in the past, has been in regards to the food available. They seem to have upgraded this year. They are now offering hot dogs (which they were out of when Grace wanted to order one, much to her dismay), they also have some new sandwich options, which are fresh made, and no longer soggy. I ordered an Ames Club with avocado. It was delicious! Grace ended up ordering nachos with taco meat. She wasn’t impressed. She felt it didn’t have enough flavor. Overall though, there are better food option, which I was glad about.

A highlight for me, besides getting to watch all my daughter’s dances, was being able to watch them all with my mom. All of her dances were within a couple hours of each other, so she had many family members there to support her. Another highlight was running into a family, even for a brief moment, from our Wisconsin days. The sister of a girl that Grace used to play baseball and softball with was dancing at Legacy with Diamond School of Dance. The last time I saw her, she was about 6, now, she’s a middle schooler, and she dances beautifully!

The competition was fun, as always. I’m looking forward to our next one!

 

 

 

Spotlight Dance Cup 2016

This year, Lake Area Dance Center decided to try a new competition. We went to Spotlight Dance Cup. It was held at the Rivercentre in St. Paul.

20160522_182201At first, I was not impressed. The backdrop was tiny, and when I went to buy a program, they were sold out. They sold me a paper copy of the day’s schedule for $5. Because I have some sort of weird love (obsession?) for programs, I bought one anyway, so I could follow along. The downside, is there was nowhere to write awards, placements, etc. This competition proved the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

The schedule was nice, from the standpoint that all of Grace’s dances were in one day. For the dancers though, it was a bit intense – 6 dances, in the matter of about 3 hours.

A couple of things were different about this competition. The biggest thing to get used to, was the difference in adjudication. At this competition, what we know as Gold was Emerald, High Gold was called Ruby, and Platinum was called Diamond. There were many “other” awards as well: Showmanship, Entertainment, Costume, Choreography, and Cut Above. It appeared there were two levels dancers could compete at: Novice Gems (recreational and intermediate), and Future Gems (Advanced). When I was reading the rules on their website, it appeared there was also a Competitive Division, which was divided into age categories as we know them: Petite, Junior, Teen, Senior, and Adult. Looking through the portion of the program I bought, it looks as though our Teens and Seniors were in this division, while the other age groups were all in the 11 and under, Novice Gems division. I’m not completely sure though…

Placements were done similarly. 1st place overall was diamond, 2nd place was ruby, 3rd was emerald, 4th was sapphire. This was confusing to the dancers. They might have gotten a diamond score, but not placed at all, or gotten ruby or something like that. I wish they’d just stick with 1st,2nd,3rd…

Grace, Daphne, Katelynn, Sage, and Claire M. all participated in the Dance Down. What a great experience!

Grace, Daphne, Katelynn, Sage, and Claire M. all participated in the Dance Down. What a great experience!

Something really cool that this competition offered, was called the Dance Down. Dancers who  entered, all went on stage, learned a short routine, and performed it. They did 3 rounds. In the Teen Division, we had 5 dancers from our studio. Two made it to the second round, and our Superstar, Sage, won! I believe she won a gift certificate to Discount Dance Supply, and a scholarship of some sort. It was a great new experience for those dancers that entered, including Grace. Thank you, Miss Maria, for encouraging her to try it!

Overall, LADC did very well. The hip hop group “Spice Up Your Life,” got a Showmanship award. “Bellhop Boogie” got a Costume award. In the under 11 large groups, “Cadence” (pom) took 10th place, “One That I Want” (Sugarplums’ jazz) took 9th, “Bellhop Boogie” (Sugerplums’ tap) got 6th, and “Ghetto Superstar” (hip hop) took 5th place. In the 11 and under small groups, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (jazz) took 3rd place, and “Spice Up Your Life” (hip hop) took 2nd. In the Teen large group category, “This is a Remix” (tap) took 10th, and “Egypt” (open category) took 3rd. In the Senior Large Group Division, “Wobble” (tap) took 7th place. Many Diamond and Ruby adjudications were given. LADC got the ADCC Studio of Excellence Award for our success and having dancers across all age groups, and levels of dance. Basically, this award recognizes a studio for having a well rounded program.

The Teens represented LADC a few times in the awards.

The Teens represented LADC a few times in the awards.

I wrote some other notes during the day, and afterwards, when I asked Grace what she did and didn’t like about this new competition:

  • I’m not sure if there were microphones on the floor, or if it had something to do with the floor itself, but the tap sounds were nice and loud.
  • The music in between songs was not too loud (something I really appreciated, since the other competitions this year, seemed to be the opposite).
  • I liked that they did pictures with each of the winners.
  • There was a screen at the side of the stage that also showed the dances. This was helpful for those who have a hard time seeing from far away, or had heads in the way.
  • Grace felt as though the stage was “sticky”, which made turns more difficult. She also felt as though the stage was smaller than normal. She said there were only 4 lines, instead of 5, and she said she bumped the screen at least a couple times. Her final critique of the stage was that the wings were very small, which made it tough when they were going on and off stage during and after dances.
  • They had super cute apparel, and all their tank tops, were buy 1, get one. At $20 for two tank tops, that’s a deal I can get behind! I got one for me, and one for Grace. Of course, she picked the one I wanted for myself. Oh well. I like mine too.

20160612_120155The final difference that my daughter really liked, was that instead of pins, they gave each of the dancers a lanyard. Instead of pins, dancers got a charm to represent their adjudication scores. Grace said she wishes more competitions would do something like this. The lanyards and charms are super cute!

I don’t know if we’ll return to this competition or not. There were definitely things I liked, and things I wasn’t so impressed about. It may be a great one for solos, duets, and small groups to attend, as there were difficulties for the larger groups at our studio, and larger studios. Either way, I support the studio’s decision, and would be just fine going back!

 

 

Masquerade Regionals 2016

We are just over a week out from attending Masquerade Nationals in Burnsville, MN. I haven’t yet written about the last two regionals we attended….

Our prop dads get in on the fun, throwing beads to the audience during one of the breaks.

Our prop dads get in on the fun, throwing beads to the audience during one of the breaks.

Here are some notes I wrote shortly after the competition:

Always the favorite competition, this year was no exception. Once again, our teen and senior dancers from Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) competed at the Purple (Advanced) level. This makes for some very tough competition! The best of the best in the Cities always come to this competition: Woodbury Dance Center, Studio 4, and Spotlight Productions Dance Studio, to name a few… It made it really fun to watch!

They were ahead by about an hour. We were excited, because we thought awards would be early. Instead, there was a longer than usual break before awards. They also had one dance from each studio perform an encore. I loved that, even though it made the encore portion go long, and awards were still late into the night (on a school night). LADC’s dance that was chosen, was “J Lo”, their jazz line number. This dance gets better every time I see it!

Grace, Paige, and Morgan, ready for some tap. These girls have been dancing together for 5 years.

Grace, Paige, and Morgan, ready for some tap. These girls have been dancing together for 5 years.

I thought our dancers all did a great job! They scored gold on hip hop, platinum on tap, high gold on contemporary, high gold on open, platinum on line, and platinum on production. “Godfather”, the studio’s production dance, also got the first place in the Junior Gold Line Division (it competes at the gold level due to the number of recreation and intermediate level dancers in the dance), and an Audience Choice award.

One of the fun things about Masquerade is Audience Choice voting. Audience members can vote on their favorite dances in different categories through the app available for phones and tablets. There is a free version, but you have to pay for the options to see what dances are on stage, view the program, etc. This year, we were able to vote through the free version. I’m not sure the was the case in the past (at least, it didn’t work for me). I did purchase the full version, so I could spend some doing other things, and still be able to keep track of where things were at, so I wouldn’t miss our studio’s dances. In truth, I spent most of the in between time prepping for my preschool conferences, but that’s beside the point.

The Angels with their Best in Show trophy.

The Angels with their Best in Show trophy.

Overall, our studio did well. There were many dances in the top of the overalls, especially in the younger divisions, who largely compete at the Gold/intermediate or Green/recreational levels. Our petite rec. level hip hop group, “Spice Up Your Life”, got an audience choice for hip hop. They not only got called back for an encore, but won the big trophy! Congratulations Shawtys and instructor Suzie! At the Junior Level, the Best of Show (top scoring dance) when to the Angels’ lyrical dance, “See You Again”. Congratulations to those dancers, and instructor Mike! “Egypt”, Grace’s open dance, got an audience choice award for the open category.

Many dancers from our studio have a goal (dream?) to be invited to the Parade of Stars. This is a group of select dancers that stand out to the judges. Parade of Stars dancers are invited to participate in the opening number of the Finals at Nationals. Grace is one of those that hopes to be selected someday. This was not her year, but several in each age category from our studio were selected. Congratulations dancers!!”

We are looking forward to Nationals, coming up in just a week! 🙂

 

 

Legacy Dance Championships – 2016

20160403_161639

The teens and seniors practicing their production routine.

Last weekend, Lake Area Dance Center participated in its first competition of the year – Legacy Dance Championships. We’ve done this competition before, but something seemed different this year. I’m not sure I can put my finger on what was different.

The competition was at the Ames Center, in Burnsville, MN. This site remains my favorite venue for competitions, though their prices at the concessions stand seem to get more outrageous each year! We are not allowed to bring in any food or beverages, but when they charge $3.50 for a bottle of pop or water, they certainly aren’t encouraging people to purchase things there. At least the relatively low cost of the programs, at $13 for a program and pen/highlighter combo, was reasonable.

Overall, our studio did very well:

*We had many soloists who placed in top places

*Soloists who were runner up for the Title of Miss Legacy at different levels. One of our dancers even took the title of Mini Miss Legacy!

*Most large group dances placed in the Top 10 for their divisions

*Sunday evening, Grace had all 6 of her dances. I was so excited to see them, since I’ve barely even seen any parts of them over the year. Their dances weren’t perfect, but overall, not bad for their first performance of the season. All her dances but one received a platinum score. I did not necessarily agree with the judges this time, and not in the way you would think. I won’t complain though…

*Large group dances took 3rd, 5th, and 8th places in the advanced teen division

*Hip Hop took 3rd in the advanced senior large group division

*Teen/Senior Line took 2nd

*Production took 2nd

*Instructor, Mike Dietz, got a choreography award

*Our studio received the Legacy Award for the Teen Senior Division. I was disappointed the dancers didn’t stick around for a group picture with the trophy!

 

Our seniors were the only groups in the Advanced Senior Division, so they took places 1-4.

Our seniors were the only groups in the Advanced Senior Division, so they took places 1-4.

Some down sides of this competition:

While I can’t pin point what made it feel so different this year (other than it felt much smaller), I did take some notes on things I didn’t like. Some of those things were:

*I feel like I complain about the volume at this competition every year. What I noticed, was that the music was turned up between dances, yet, when the dancers were on stage, the music was turned down. This caused a few mishaps.

*The ends of songs were often cut off. In one case, it was cut off mid-dance. During one solo, the dancer hadn’t even hit her end pose before the music was changed… Whoever was in control of the music should have waited until the dancers exited the stage before changing the song.

* This is no fault of the competition, but our 4 Advanced Senior groups were the only ones in their division. While it’s nice to say they took places 1-4, it would be more awesome if there was some competition!

*There was recognition called “Excellence in…” for each style of dance. The only thing is, there wasn’t just one jazz dance, or one lyrical dance. There were multiple dances in each category. I didn’t quite understand the point of this.

*Before the production dancers went on, they closed the balcony. That meant EVERYONE had to cram into the lower level before dances with 50-100 dancers each went on. It was packed!

*Also not a fault of the competition: people were SO RUDE about finding a seat in the middle of dances. When will people learn the common courtesy of waiting until a dance is over before getting up and leaving, or walking down a row to sit down??? Dances are no more than 3 minutes on average. I don’t understand the inability to respect the other people who are there to see their dancers.

  • My daughter’s hip hop dance has a funny/surprise ending. I didn’t get to see it due to people not only walking in front of me, but also apparently forgetting how to just sit down. When a family started walking in front of me just as their line dance was about to start, I could no longer keep my mouth shut. I asked them to please hurry, as my daughter was about to dance on stage. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not normally one to say something, but I was at the edge of my patience with this behavior… maybe I was a little stressed out due to having parent/teacher conferences the following week. I had spent the whole day prepping them in between dances…)

Anyway, to wrap up my post about this year’s Legacy competition, my overall opinion is: meh. If our owner wants to suggest trying a different competition next year besides this one, I will be all for it. It just wasn’t as much fun… it was smaller, the music/volume issues were annoying, and the energy/fun factor just didn’t seem to be there…

Til next time!

 

 

Masquerade Nationals – 2015

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.

Michael, enjoying one of the cupcakes from the dessert table at the Welcome Party.

Michael, enjoying one of the cupcakes from the dessert table at the Welcome Party.

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! 🙂

There is something really fun about having a backdrop for pictures!

There is something really fun about having a backdrop for pictures!

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.

Sophie, 3rd from the right, was among the Seniors selected for a $1,000 scholarship from Masquerade! Congratulations!

Sophie, 3rd from the right, was among the Seniors selected for a $1,000 scholarship from Masquerade! Congratulations!

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.

059During 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!!

145Wednesday 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!

Jenelle, first parent on the left, won the dance off for the moms!!

Jenelle, first parent on the left, won the dance off for the moms!!

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!! 🙂

Masquerade Dance 2015

The first weekend in May, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) was at our final regional competition of the year, Masquerade Dance. Masquerade was held at the Ames Center in Burnsville. As always – our favorite competition, at our favorite location.

This competition also attracts some incredible competition. Some of the favorites to watch (besides our own), included Music General, Woodbury Dance Center, Premiere Dance Academy, and Summit Dance Shoppe.

It was so nice outside, Teen Company practiced their lyrical dance outside.

It was so nice outside, Teen Company practiced their lyrical dance outside.

Got the App!

This year, I finally got the Masquerade app to work on my phone. I’m not sure why it didn’t work in years past, but this year, it worked on the first try. Their app tells you what number is on stage, and which one is next. It also has the entire program to help you keep track of the order. I did still buy the program, because I like to hand-write awards. The app has a function to let you keep track of awards, but I felt the awards ceremonies moved too fast to make it useable.

One of my favorite functions of the app, was Audience Choice voting. After each category of dance, several were chosen for audience members to be able to vote for their favorite. I did, of course, always vote for LADC’s dances if they were selected. 😉

Other features include a link to the venue’s official website, directions, and a list of nearby places to eat.

Some of the Teen Company Dancers at Cherry Berry... a few of our Senior Company dancers showed up, so I roped them into a picture too! ;-)

Some of the Teen Company Dancers at Cherry Berry… a few of our Senior Company dancers showed up, so I roped them into a picture too! 😉

In addition to using it to vote, I also used it to make sure I didn’t miss any of the dances from our studio. It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend! In early May, Minnesotans like to take advantage of the sun and warmth that we miss all winter long…. I spent quite a bit of the time outside on our long day, laying in the grass, reading. Because I had the app, I could keep track of what numbers danced, and how close they were to the LADC dances (or a few others I knew I wouldn’t want to miss). It also allowed some dancers (and moms) to walk to Cherry Berry (a couple blocks away) and make sure we made it back in plenty of time for dancers to rehearse for their next dance! It was worth the $4.99/year!  Bonus perk: My understanding is that I can use it at Nationals too! 🙂

The Program

The program that Masquerade sells is very reasonably priced, at only $8! This program was just as large as anywhere else. In addition to including the names of all the dances, dancers, and the names of their studios, there is also a place at the end to record overall awards. If you’ve read my other competition posts, you might notice that not having that space available is a huge pet peeve for me! I appreciate that I don’t have to search for places to write all the awards! 🙂 Thank you, Masquerade!!

Sarah is known by many parents as "the judge with the insanely high heels." How does she walk in those?

Sarah is known by many parents as “the judge with the insanely high heels.” How does she walk in those?

The Judges

One of the reasons I love Masquerade, is the judges. Sarah Jo Fazio is the face of Masquerade! She is the judge that most dancers instantly recognize, respect, and love! She has a very positive influence on dancers.

When she gives out the Judges’ Awards, she always starts with some sort of spiel about how the awards and placements do not make or break each person as a dancer. It does not define who they are, or their value. It is merely a reflection of how that day happened to go… her words changed based on the age of the group she was talking to, but the idea was the same. One quote I had written in my program from her was this (I think she said it was something her father used to say): “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. If you don’t learn, you don’t win.”

Besides Sarah’s wonderful message for dancers, I love that the judges at this competition personally pass out all the adjudication awards. It makes the awards seem more personal. While Grace was picking up her High Gold award for her solo, Sarah told her how much she loved her prop. Thank you judges for taking the extra time to interact with the dancers!

Side note: One of my favorite moments from the whole competition was when Grace was dancing her solo. When she stepped on her box, and it lit up, all 3 judges threw up their arms and cheered! It was AWESOME!!! I wish there was a picture of that! 🙂

The Judging

Once again, wording was different than other competitions to define the categories. This can confuse dancers and parents alike. This is one area I think Masquerade could improve a bit – communicating the different “rules” to the general public. If you go to their website, you have to be a dance instructor/studio owner to be able to access those.  You can go into the Parent’s FAQ to get the rankings for the adjudication… I’ll see if I can make any sense of it for you.

Age groups are divided up into Petite, Junior, Teen and Senior. That is pretty standard.

The levels of competition are divided into green, which is recreational; gold, which is intermediate; and purple which is advanced or elite. I don’t remember the color scheme representing the different levels in past years. The colors are because they try to harness some of the fun of Mardi Gras into their competition. This is also why they have the masks in their boutique, and throw beads at various times throughout the day. The fun atmosphere they try to create is part of why I like this competition so much!

The scores as pulled from their Parent FAQ page:

Bronze, Silver, and High Silver (I don’t believe I saw any of these rankings): 266 and below

Gold: 275-267 (There were a handful of these given)

High Gold: 284-276 (This was probably the most common score, especially for our dancers in the purple division)

Platinum: 300-285 (Several of our intermediate dances, and a few in the purple received this score, including my daughter’s lyrical dance).

Extras

Masquerade has several “extras” as part of their competition. One that is always exciting, is when dancers are called back to compete again for the Encore award. Judges choose their favorite/entertaining dances to come back and compete for a huge trophy. In the teen/senior section of awards, they had such a hard time deciding, that they chose one from each studio. The Teen Company Jazz Small Group, Vogue, got selected. They didn’t win, but it was fun to watch them perform again!

Masquerade also has an award they give out called the Steven Boyd Award. This award is given to dancers who show a passion for dance. One of our younger dancers, Libby Butters, was honored with this award for the Petite division. She is the youngest dancer from our studio to be given this honor, and to be selected to Parade of Stars (to perform in the opening number at the Finals for Nationals). Other dancers from our studio selected to participate in Parade of Stars from our studio were: Bella Butters, Emilia Skjegstad, Emilee Tapani, Sage Neal, and Liv Johnson. I am looking forward to watching them in the opening number at Nationals! The dance is always amazing!

Here are the Senior Spirit Line award winners - LADC!

Here are the Senior Spirit Line award winners – LADC!

A Spirit Line award is given to studios at the various age levels. Lake Area Dance Center was selected for the Spirit Award at the Senior Level. YAY LADC!

Another award they give is the Best in Show award. This is the dance in each age category with the highest score overall.

Each age category also has a Miss Masquerade crowned. Liv Johnson, one of our amazingly talented dancers was crowned Junior Miss Masquerade! 🙂

The final special award is the Top Studio award. While Lake Area Dance Center was not awarded in the Top 3 this year, I don’t think anyone was surprised to see Woodbury Dance Center win the top spot, with Summit Dance Shoppe in 2nd, and Spotlight Productions Dance Studio taking 3rd.

We had a great competition year! The younger dancers continued to be very successful at the recreational and intermediate levels. The older dancers stepped up to a new challenge of dancing at the elite level. It was challenging, but they worked hard, and now know what to expect for next year! Thank you Miss Maria Pomerleau, Mike Dietz, and Madelyn Lee, for your great choreography, and hard work with our dancers. Congratulations dancers for your hard work and a fun season!!

On to recitals and Nationals!!!

 

 

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