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. ūüôā

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 “MN I” Dance Competition 2019

This is my daughter’s Senior Year. Since it’s her last “hurrah”, she is doing all the things she hasn’t been able to do over the past several years. She is in multiple small groups, and is doing 2 solos (one of which she choreographed herself). I also let her sign up for all of the optional competitions with her solos. The first of those was Masquerade Dance Competition’s “MN I”.

Masquerade comes to Minnesota several times throughout the year. This was the first of this year. Because it was so early in the competition season, it was a much smaller competition than we are used to at MN III, the one Lake Area Dance Center typically attends as a whole studio. There were less studios, and fewer groups. It was a great opportunity for our dancers to get some experience performing, and get some early feedback.

Graduating Seniors Niki and Grace prepare for their first competitions of the season.

This competition had a much different feel than our usual Masquerade Competition. It was smaller, as I’ve mentioned, but it was more than that. There was an overall supportive vibe at this event. People were very positive. Everyone seemed to encourage each other, whether they knew each other or not. Several people that we didn’t know, came up to Grace and told her she did a great job. I was so surprised, because while I thought she did, I am also a bit biased, because I’m her mom. It was wonderful to hear that so many strangers thought so too.

There was plenty of room to run dances while waiting for their turn to take the stage.

Grace is typically a tapper, but this year, decided to push herself to do something different. She self-choreographed a Contemporary solo. She is also doing a Musical Theater solo, choreographed by our studio owner, Miss Maria. She was very excited to perform them for the first time.  Her goal has always been to get a platinum score on her solos at Masquerade. She has never quite reached that adjudication level with any solo at Masquerade competitions РRegionals or Nationals. She met that goal with one of her two solos. She got a Platinum score with her Contemporary solo, and High Gold on her Musical Theater.

An extra surprise that we found out about the day before, was that a few dancers from our previous studio in Wisconsin, Eau Claire School of Dance, were also at MN I with their solos and duets. We met up with them briefly, though, all were busy rehearsing and preparing for subsequent performances. It was fun to see old friends!

Lexi, Grace, and Zoe danced together at Eau Claire School of Dance 9 or so years ago!

Overall, MN I was a wonderful experience. I wished we had done this competition in years past. It was a great way to start her last season competing!

 

 

Guest Choreography

Over the past several years, our studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) has branched out into having guests choreograph different routines. Most years, it has been small groups or solos. The exception has been that the Senior Hip Hop group was the only large group having guest choreography. Choreographers have included teachers from other local studios, and, in more recent years, other professionals from the dance world.

The benefits of having guests choreographers are many. Dancers who learn from a variety of instructors, whether it be guest choreographers, or through Master classes or conventions, become better dancers. They get to learn new techniques and styles they might otherwise not experience.

Grace’s first experience with a guest choreographer was 3 years ago. She was in the Senior Hip Hop Group. Katelyn Bloomquist (formerly Rademacher), was the choreographer. The routine was called “Bake Shop”. It was a fun routine, with a unique twist on hip hop and baking. ūüôā

2017-2018 – “Ya Ya” with Anthony Gabriel and Cory Booker

The next year, her hip hop routine, “Starving”, was choreographed by Anthony Gabriel. It was a smooth hip hop routine. They got special judges’ awards for their style and performance. Last year, her hip hop routine was also choreographed by Anthony Gabriel, with Cory Booker as a co-choreographer. This was a hard-hitting routine called “Ya Ya”. Our dancers again received judges awards for this routine, with comments about how different this routine was from any they had seen from LADC before.

2017-18 – “Love Me or Leave Me” with Kaleena Miller

Last year, her tap small group was choreographed by Kaleena Miller. We have been to many of her tap shows before, and are big fans of her style. Last year’s piece was called “Love Me or Leave Me.” Her rhythmic tap style made for a happy, fun routine that challenged our dancers. This piece was also selected to perform in the 2018 Twin Cities Tap Festival. This year’s tap small group routine has also been choreographed by Kaleena Miller.

 

2018-19 Graduating Seniors – lyrical small group with Katelyn Bloomquist.

This year, Grace has 5 routines (including the tap small group listed above) that are guest choreographed. She has lyrical and contemporary small groups, both choreographed by Katelyn Bloomquist.

Her hip hop large group has been choreographed by Erik Saradpon. Once again, this is a very different style of hip hop for their group.

 

2018-19 Hip Hop with Erik Saradpon

 

She is also part of a new Heels large group that has been choreographed by James Kinney, and Alex Nordin. This group routine has a completely different feel than any our studio has performed before. The girls were all extremely excited when they finished their choreography session with these two!

2018-19 Heels routine with James Kinney and Alex Nordin

Grace loves all of her dances she has learned so far. It’s going to be a great Senior year!

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!!!

 

Spring Dance Recital – Behind the Scenes

Practicing the finale at dress rehearsal

Practicing the finale at dress rehearsal

Putting on a dance recital is a lot of work! This year, I was blessed to spend even more time behind the scenes. Though, what I did to help out was small in the grand scheme of the show!

Recital Preparations

I can’t even imagine how much time the dance teachers put in to coming up with a theme, choosing the music (some had to be cut and/or edited as well), and choreographing dances in several different styles: tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, and musical theater. Then, teachers had to choose costumes. This is a tough job, when you are trying to remain age appropriate, choose costumes to fit the dances, and for competitive dances, choose costumes that will be unique. Once those pieces came together, there was choosing a logo/backdrop for the show, choosing recital shirt artwork, the writing and recording of the show announcements… none of this even touches the dealing with dates, facilities, lighting, etc…

As recital time gets closer, families start to order their tickets for the various shows. This year, Lake Area Dance Center did 4 shows: two “regular” shows with both competitive and recreational students; then, there was a solo showcase, which featured all the solos from petite through teen dancers (and a couple of duets); finally, was the Gala, which featured all the competitive large groups, small groups, and the senior solos.

Miss Maria (studio owner) prints all her own tickets for the shows. I volunteered to help cut them all apart and organize them by row. I volunteered to take them home to work on them. I figured it might take me a couple hours. I was WRONG!!! It took me about 10+ hours to cut and organize them (and yes, that was cutting through 2-3 sheets of cardstock at a time)! I was shocked at how long it took. Once I got all the tickets cut, Maria and her husband (who usually helps her cut them all apart), had to assign seats to all the families who pre-ordered tickets.

Other behind the scenes items that take place are: making sure flowers are available for audience members to purchase for their favorite dancers, making sure programs are printed and ready for people to pick up (some were pre-ordered, some were sold at the door), picking up items for sale at the concession table, and more. Miss Maria also sent out assignments to all the volunteers, show orders for dancers to print and have in their Duffel, last minute instructions… Oh, and I almost forgot, Miss Maria and several volunteers put together recital kits for the volunteers to use backstage. These recital kits can be very helpful, in that they contain coloring books, crayons, books to read, baby wipes, suckers, fruit snacks, markers, pencils, sharpies, and a volunteer badge to identify volunteers to parents. They also put together binders with show orders, dancers’ placements, etc. for all the teachers who were working backstage to make sure things ran smoothly.

Set-up

There was also a handful of others who helped with set-up that did not want to be in the picture.

If that doesn’t sound like enough work, there’s the set-up for the show. Several of us showed up at the dance studio on Wednesday¬†of recital week. We loaded up several vehicles with items needed for backstage, props for recreational groups, etc. Then, we headed over to the middle school where the show was to be held. We all worked hard and fast to unload the vehicles, roll out the flooring, set up the backstage area,¬†tape the floors, move chairs from the auditorium to the hall for dancers to wait on… We got things set up relatively¬†quickly due to all the help, and things were almost ready for dress rehearsal.

The prop dads had to go back with a big truck to get all the large props for the competitive groups. They brought those on Friday (I think), so they’d be ready for the first show.

The set-up continued at dress rehearsal, as dance mom, Lori, put together the rest of the backdrop for the show.

The set-up continued at dress rehearsal, as dance mom, Lori, put together the rest of the backdrop for the show.

Dress Rehearsal

On the day of dress rehearsals, I was asked to take pictures of the event. I had my phone and my camera fully charged when I got there. By the time the middle of the 2nd show rehearsal came around, I had somehow drained my camera battery. I switched to using my phone to take pictures (not the best for quality with the lighting). My phone had been attempting to search for wifi and signal the whole time, and was also almost dead. I was so frustrated. I usually always keep a charger pack in my purse, but for some reason, it wasn’t there. I managed to get pictures of every group, but there were definitely less pictures of groups¬†and their dances¬†in the second rehearsal than the first. Grrr…

Dress Rehearsals ran in such a way that Miss Maria gave last minute instructions, and everyone ran through the finale twice. Then, they ran through the entire show (minus the competitive dances). Dancers were free to go when done with all of their dances. After the first show had their rehearsal, there was a 10-15 minute break, during which the adults had our rehearsal. Then, it was time for show 2 to do the same thing. Dances that were in both shows were split between the two rehearsals.

Show Time!

Here we are, minus one who was just outside the picture, at dress rehearsal. This was the first recital in four years that I have been in. It was soo much fun!

Here we are, minus one who was just outside the picture, at dress rehearsal. This was the first recital in four years that I have been in. It was soo much fun!

Friday night was Show One. I was assigned to the preschoolers, as I have been the last few years. As a preschool teacher, I thoroughly enjoy being with this age group. The first show, there were 19 preschoolers. Another mom, Barb, came to help me when she was done ushering (or whatever her job was at the beginning of the show). She was very helpful when it came to potty breaks (once one has to go, suddenly, 5 others do too), and when it was time for me to go onstage.

In the hallway where the dancers line up to go onstage, there was a TV that was live-streaming the show. I was happy that the dances were spaced in a way that I got to watch my son dance on the TV while lined up with the preschoolers! I was so proud of him!

Backstage, it¬†is VERY organized chaos! Several teachers were on headsets talking to each other about different things happening. Two to three people were “runners”, going to get each group as it was getting close to time to line up. They made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be. There were also sound & light guys, teachers pulling curtains, prop dads waiting to put the right props on at the right time, dancers, and parent chaperones.¬†There were so many people doing so many things, but it all flowed, relatively flawlessly, to the people in the audience.

For Show 2, I was again with preschoolers. This time, my group was much smaller, and I didn’t need a helper until it was time for me to go on stage. Dianne, another parent who was helping with the tots earlier, came to help me. During this show,¬†I made a mistake during my dance (of course I did, it was the show all my family had come to see). My mom said she didn’t notice. I did, but oh well… it happens. I still had fun!

The Solo Showcase didn’t need much help, though I was assigned to help with concessions, and pass out show orders. I got to sit and watch the first half of the show, until my daughter danced her solo. It was fun to see solos that I hadn’t seen before, because they were often performed at different days/times than my daughter at competitions. After watching her dance, I went back to eat, and help clean up from the potluck that was being served behind the school. The prop dads didn’t want me to take the food away, so I cleaned up some, and left the rest for the dads to take care of.

recital group shotFor the final show, the Gala, I was helping the teens and seniors backstage with hair changes, quick costume changes, and whatever else they needed. Barb helped me out again when she was done ushering, since there were a couple girls who needed hair changes at the same time. It was very busy, but I did manage to sneak to the side of the curtain and watch a couple dances.

Tear Down

As soon as the Gala was over, and most of the audience had cleared the auditorium, it was time to take it all down. We had so many people helping this year, that it was done in probably half an hour. I’m pretty sure we set a record! We had to pull up the tape, roll up the floors, take down the backstage dressing areas and tables, reset the chairs in the auditorium, and pack everything away. I’m not really sure where all the recital kits, and¬†prop boxes¬†we brought earlier ended up… hopefully, back to the studio with the prop dads… After tearing down all evidence of the dance recital, many of us headed to Applebee’s to enjoy some down time. Well, for some of us, it was one of two chances we had to eat all day, so we took advantage! ūüėČ

Now that the shows are over, competitive dancers have been rehearsing for Nationals which start this week. Recreational students get a week or two off before the summer dance schedule starts. Teachers are probably already beginning the process of thinking about next year’s dance recital. WOW!!!

 

Star Systems 2015

One of the photos purchased at the competition.

One of the photos purchased at the competition.

This past weekend, Grace danced in her first competition of the season. This was an optional competition for solos, duets/trios, and a couple of select small groups. Since Star Systems is a smaller competition than most of the others we usually attend, I thought it would be a good opportunity for her to get one under her belt before the main competition season starts. This was her first time ever competing with a solo, and she is competing in the Elite level (called Super Star at this competition). All week, and weekend leading up to competing, Grace went back and forth between being nervous, and excited.

The juniors and one of our seniors competed Friday night, A couple of duets, mini/petite solos, and our hip hop small groups competed on Saturday. Grace and two other teens from Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) competed Sunday night. We did not go any other day, but Sunday. Results though, were great! Many platinum scores and overall placements were given to LADC dancers and groups. Two of our hip hop small group placed first in the overalls, something I have rarely seen!

Grace, Paige, and Niki, all ready to compete at the Elite Level for the first time.

Grace, Paige, and Niki, all ready to compete at the Elite Level for the first time.

We got to the competition at about 3:45 on Sunday, 3 hours before Grace was scheduled to dance. We had plenty of time to get her hair and makeup ready. I have to say, now that she’s older, and can do her own makeup, it’s kind of nice! I did her hair.

From the time we got there, through the end of the night, it was ALL solos. The Shining Star (often called Recreational) division was going when we got there. The solos continued through the Shooting Star (Intermediate) division in all the different styles… Grace’s solo is a tap dance, which started out the Super Star division. There were a couple of dances before her. The one immediately before her was a GOOOOOOD tapper (she ended up getting 2nd overall). Talk about making for a nervous Mama!

My favorite photo of the day.

My favorite photo of the day.

We generally do not watch many solos, just those from our studio, if we are there on those days, or at Nationals. ¬†Last year, we watched the finalists at StarQuest, and were amazed at the dancing! It was a bit scary to think my daughter, a first time soloist, was going to be competing against the likes of those dancers. I tried really hard not to show her how nervous I was for her. She had worked hard, and I knew she was ready. Still, every possible “what if” goes through your head when you are watching your kid do something for the first time. On facebook, I saw a picture that said “Dance like no one is watching… ’cause they’re not… they’re busy checking their phones.” She and I had a good laugh about that! I told her it didn’t matter how she placed, as long as she did her best.

They stayed mostly on schedule. I was surprised a few times when they would have to call dancers over the loud speaker, or say, “We are skipping ahead because no one else is checked in.” I couldn’t tell if it was the studios that weren’t as organized, or if it was the competition company. Maybe that’s just typical of some of the smaller competitions. Things mostly flowed pretty well though.

Grace - Platinum, Paige - Elite High Gold, Niki - Platinum

Grace – Platinum, Paige – Elite High Gold, Niki – Platinum

When Grace went on stage, she gave it her all! She has an amazing prop that lights up. For a second, it didn’t go on. At the same time, she started doing a different part of her dance (which I didn’t realized until she told me afterwards)… She stopped on top of the box for a split second, stomped, and at that second, the box lit up, and she kept going. If her face hadn’t showed that she had “messed up”, it easily could have just been part of the dance. What’s funny, is that she didn’t even know the box didn’t light up… Oh well, mistakes happen. She did so well!! ¬†I was very proud of her!

A few dances after Grace, her friend Paige from her dance team went. Paige’s dance is a jazz dance, in which she makes flexibility look easy! A few dances after that, Ali (their dance teacher’s daughter) went. She did a jazz dance that exudes power. Finally, of the dancers we knew, Niki, from Grace and Paige’s dance team went. She performed a beautiful lyrical piece!

Grace with her dance teacher and choreographer, Maria.

Grace with her dance teacher and choreographer, Maria.

We waited until awards, which were pretty much right on time. We were all SO excited to hear Grace got a platinum score! Paige got an Elite High Gold score, Ali and Niki both got platinum. Ali has been competing at the Elite Level for quite a while, and it was no surprise to any of us that she got platinum and 9th overall (out of 62 dances). The other three have never competed Elite. We were all thrilled by their wonderful results!

I was surprised there were no “extra” or “Judges’ Awards” given during the awards ceremony. No costume or choreography awards were given either. Maybe they only do those for large group dances?

Anyway, this was a great start to the competition season. I can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

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