Masquerade Regionals – 2018

Grace and her fan club – Kennedy and Maddy

Our studio recently attended Masquerade Dance Competition, traditionally, our favorite competition of the year. It was held at the Ames Center in Burnsville. It ended up being a 3-day long weekend for us (some were there even more than that).

Grace started the competition weekend by going to school for half a day, then we went down to Burnsville for her solo. She was really nervous, as Masquerade tends to bring some of the Best of the Best dancers in the Twin Cities. She REALLY wanted to wow the judges so she would be selected for Parade of Stars (being invited back to participate in the Opening Number at Nationals). She was hungry, but wouldn’t eat beforehand. She was too nervous. Just as she started her solo, her leg started spasming. She danced well in spite of this. I only knew something was wrong because I saw a quick flash of pain go across her face for a split second. I was worried she had re-sprained her ankle. Unfortunately, this was not her year for Parade of Stars. She scored a High Gold on her solo.

Miss Maria did Grace’s hair for her solo. So cute!

Saturday, we were back for Production. It looked so good! I wrote a note that said that I thought it was much better than the last competition! They got a platinum score, and 3rd overall. This was the day all the minis-juniors did all their large and small groups. By the time it got to production in the afternoon, you could tell they were all tired! This was true across pretty much all the studios. It was a long day for those little kids, without much time to rest.  The judges must have been pretty tired too, because the music was so loud! I think they were trying to make sure everyone stayed awake. The down side, was that they kept it fairly loud during awards too, so it was a bit hard to hear how some dances did. Usually, we do not have this issue at this particular competition. Luckily, we could still hear the tap sounds, though, I did not see microphones on the stage.

Studio 54 – a disco themed Line featuring our Preteens-Seniors. (photo creds to Miss Maria)

Sunday, Grace had the rest of her dances. It was a 12-or-so hour day for our preeteens-seniors. In true Masquerade style, the day started out with tap for our large and small groups. I’m glad they got to do their tap dances while they still had full energy. By the end of the day, they were all pretty worn out! Despite their exhaustion, all of the Seniors’ dances scored a platinum. Blue Moon, their musical theater dance got Audience Choice, and a “Class Act” Judges Award. YaYa, the Teen/Senior Hip Hop group, got a “Passive Aggressive” award. The judge commented on how their look (hair down, hats on), their hard hitting dance, etc was so different that what Lake Area Dance usually does. Their Line dance, Studio 54, got called back to do an encore. It was so much fun! Encore is one of the things we love about Masquerade! Another, is the ability of the audience to vote for their favorite dance in each category. When you download the Masquerade app, you can vote with the free version. If you want to pay for it, you can get live updates of what dance is on stage, how long until the next awards session, etc.

I heard a lot of parents at this competition asking about the color levels. At Masquerade, dances either compete at the green, gold, or purple level. Green is the equivalent of a novice or recreational level. Gold would be intermediate, while purple is the advanced level. If you’ve never been to Masquerade before, this can be confusing. The dances are scored similarly as most competitions. Judges score each routine, and then dances are given an adjudication based on their score. The highest “score” a dance can receive is Platinum. Next is High Gold, then Gold, then Silver, and finally, bronze. Most dances we have seen score somewhere in the gold – platinum range.

Hanging out with dance moms and friends who came to support our dancers.

Overall, this competition was fun as always. It has become very comfortable for us, as we almost feel it is an extension of our dance family. We look forward to our next competition, which will be a new one for us.

 

 

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Legacy Dance Championships – 2018

A couple weeks ago, our studio had its first studio-wide dance competition of the season, Legacy Dance Championships. It was a great weekend. We were lucky in that we only had to be there 2 days.

This competition was held at the Ames Center in Burnsville. This is always our favorite venue. It’s nice to be in a place that feels so familiar!

My daughter’s day started with her tap small group. She loves this dance, as it was choreographed by one of her tap idols, Kaleena Miller. The dance is in a style of tap that is different than what Grace is used to, but is also a great challenge. I really enjoy this dance too, so it was a fun way to start the day! She then had her large group dances – tap, contemporary, Line (a disco themed jazz dance including all competitive dancers preteen-seniors),  and musical theater. That evening, she competed her solo. I love her dances this year!! Her tap dance is so much fun (and funny). It was choreographed by Lake Area Dance Center‘s owner, Maria Pomerleau (as were the musical theater, and Line). Her solo is a tap solo to “Cheek to Cheek”. I LOVE it soooo much! Instructor Madelyn Lee choreographed the perfect dance for her! It makes me smile when I watch her. Due to her platinum score, she also got invited to be part of their Nationals Opening Number. Unfortunately, I think all of their Nationals are at times that we can’t go, but it was a huge honor for her to be invited.

Grace and Madelyn. I wish these two could do a tap duet!

Sunday, she had her hip hop dance, which was choreographed by Anthony Gabriel and Cory Booker. It’s a hard-hitting routine that provides a good challenge for our girls. Grace also had to fill in for a dancer in the Teen Hip Hop group she assists with. One of the girls sprained her ankle really bad a couple days before the competition, so Grace was asked to fill in. Finally, our studio had their Production dance, which is Lady Gaga themed. It took first overall of the production dances. Very exciting!

Some notes about Legacy this year:

  • For the first year that I can remember, the volume was not too loud. In fact, they turned the music down during tap dances in order to help the judges hear the tap sounds. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. When Grace’s small group went, the very beginning was a little off. When I was talking to her later, she said they had turned it down so far, it was very hard to hear the music. Luckily, they recovered very quickly.
  • YaYa – Senior Hip Hop

    The judges each gave out 3 Special Awards. The interesting thing, was they didn’t present their own awards. Grace’s tap dance, “Stronger”, got a Judge’s Award for being clean, and accurate.

  • I don’t remember them offering scholarships in past years, but this year, they did. One of our Petite Small Groups, “Take Off With Us”, got a Choreography Award and a scholarship to Dance Dreams (what sounds like a convention, from what I could tell).
  • DanceXcel had impressive sportsmanship. Whenever the first place overall dance was called, the entire studio stood up to clap for them (whether it was from their studio or not). What a great ethic to instill in those dancers!
  • This had nothing to do with the competition, but the venue ran out of food by mid-day on Sunday. When people are there all day, and can’t leave, it really stinks for them! I left to go get food for us and our studio owner. This was the one and only time they actually let people bring food in.

Despite the busy scheduled, we still had a lot of fun. Her dances were great, and they scored well. We couldn’t ask for anything else. 🙂

 

Spotlight Dance Cup 2017

Our final regional competition of the 2017 season, was Spotlight Dance Cup. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did last year. As far as the competition itself went, it was fine. I can’t put my finger on any one thing that made it less enjoyable for me, but it wasn’t my favorite. Maybe I was just tired, due to going from the competition to my brother’s wedding, and then back to the competition the next day … I don’t know.

I certainly don’t love the Roy Wilkins Auditorium as a venue for competitions. It makes for an expensive weekend, especially for those families that had dancers who competed multiple days, which we did. It adds up quick.! There are parking fees and food costs just to name a couple (we paid $14 for a small order of fries and 2 beverages, and later, $4.75 for a bottle of water).

On top of those costs associated with the venue, the program book was $15, a cost higher than at other competitions. It was smaller than most, which is not a big deal, but there was only one page to write special awards and their top recognition awards. It was annoying to have to keep going through the program to write everything down.  In general though, each award session went too fast to catch it all any way.

Things I enjoyed about Spotlight

  • They had a dance off which was fun to watch. Dancers were taught a short routine, and then they performed it several times, competing for a place in the final round.
  • There was great merchandise for sale. My daughter got a pair of shorts.
  • Phil, the Show Director, was really fun. He was very positive, and had a lot of energy.
  • There must have been microphones on the stage, because you could really hear the tap dancers. I like when you can hear all their sounds!
  • The program listed the choreographers for each routine. I liked that, because I often try to guess who choreographed routines. It was sort of like using the answers at the end of a math book to see if you were right. 😉

Other Commentary 

  • In my program, I wrote a note saying, “What’s with the angled wings? Dancers kept running into them.” I saw dancers in groups of all sizes tripping up in, and struggling to get past the wings when they need to switch lines backstage. I would imagine that it could also make entrances a struggle when they need to come onstage in a straight line (especially for younger dancers who may not have fully developed spacial awareness, which would help them know to turn their bodies as they got to the stage entrance).

A few of the hip hop dancers from my daughter’s team.

  • Instead of having all of one style of dance at a time, the styles were all mixed together throughout the day. I have mixed opinions about this. On one hand, I wonder if it makes it easier, or harder for judges to have to keep switching gears while scoring. On the other hand, audience members weren’t watching the same style of dance over and over. This can be good or annoying, depending on the person. I personally like when similar styles are grouped together.
  • There seemed to be computer issues several times, causing delays in the competition.

There were many of the same groups we saw the rest of the season. The routines were amazing every time! We did see a few new groups. That’s always refreshing.

The judging at this competition can be a little confusing. Instead of Platinum, High Gold, Gold, and Silver, this competition used a different ranking system. At Spotlight, Diamond is the highest score a group can get, Ruby is the second highest, then Emerald, then Sapphire. What makes it really confusing (I heard several parents in the audience trying to figure it out), was that they used the same ranking system for routines (vs 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on). So, a dance that scored in the highest range of points could get a Diamond, but then get an Emerald for their overall ranking (meaning they got 3rd place). Many routines, including several of ours, got Ruby or Diamond for their score, but didn’t place at all. I heard many audience members who were very frustrated not knowing what was going on during awards.

Our dancers did well overall. Most routines scored Ruby or Diamond, some even placed in the overalls. We got some special recognition awards for clean routines, choreography, Best in Musical Theater, and more.

After this competition, we looked forward to recitals and Nationals coming up…. Now, we are at the beginning of a new season. With my daughter doing 8 routines this year, it is sure to be extra busy, but also fun!

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! 🙂

 

 

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