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!!!

 

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Masquerade Dance Competition 2014

039Recently, my daughter’s studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC), attended our favorite dance competition of the year, Masquerade.

The Venue

It was held at the Ames Center (formerly Burnsville Performing Arts Center). One of the favorite things about this particular location is the beautiful courtyard (where dozens of young men and women were lined up taking pre-prom pictures). It was a breezy day, but nice enough that the dance brothers all got to play “Minecraft” outside. They decided to continue on a game they made up and played at the previous competition that was held there. It also has a very close proximity to both a Subway and Caribou Coffee. Food and coffee, both must-haves for long days at competitions!

One thing I like about this competition, is that even though the food  is expensive, it is a relatively inexpensive competition to go to. We don’t have to pay for parking. That ends up saving a huge amount!

Programs were only $7! That’s a price I can deal with! There were spots for writing down awards, but all categories and divisions for awards are listed in the back. It was helpful to have those spaces, but I didn’t realize they were there until after the first award session I sat through… It would be nice to have those sections in the program at each award session spot, but it’s better than not at all.

They had lots of apparel and other items for sale. Some of it was reasonably priced, some, not so much. Usually they have a deal where you could buy both sweat pants and a “city shirt” at a discounted rate. The city shirts are always great, they have all the studios and dancer names on the back. This year, they did not offer that deal.

One thing I have really come to appreciate, was that there was only one stage at this location. The competition was huge; other studios were at Hopkins High School for a second Masquerade competition the same weekend. This was the only competition that we only had to be there one day. All 5 of Grace’s dances were the same day. It made for a long day, but was nice to only have go once. 🙂

There was a crew backstage helping the Prop Dads get props on and off stage. This made for even the largest props to get set up and taken down in record time. Way to keep things moving!

034Dressing rooms were an issue. While they have lots of space in theory, it was packed tighter than a can of sardines. Very cliche, I know, but we were in there TIGHT (especially when virtually our entire studio was there at the same time for production). We were assigned to share a dressing room with another large studio in a room which was about the size of a dance studio. To say it was packed is an understatement!

 

Unfortunately…

We had an unfortunate event that happened… someone went through my daughter’s things, and $15 went missing. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone!! It’s quite possible that the $15 fell out of her pocket as she was grabbing something out of it. I don’t know. What she told me is that it was in her LADC jacket with the pockets zipped. When we returned to the dressing room, her pockets were unzipped, the money was gone, and there was a large cheese stain on the pocket of her brand new hoodie. She had not eaten anything with nacho cheese, and the spot was about the size of a fingerprint, right in the middle of the pocket. Her ipods, phone, and $5 were still in the hoodie pocket. Other dancers around us did not have anything missing, thank goodness. It just came as a good reminder that with so many people in and out of rooms, be aware of leaving valuables, credit cards, or cash laying unsupervised. We all tend to be very trusting, but things can happen anywhere!

The Judging

The judges were tough. Platinums were hard to come by. Even though it is a bummer not to hear “Platinum” after your child’s every dance routine, it makes you appreciate them even more when they do get them. I feel it is good for character-building. Our hope was that it would make them work that much harder at the next competition!

053LADC was awarded Best in Show (highest scoring routine overall in the Junior Division) for their production number, Dock of the Bay. It also received the audience choice award.  In addition to production, Grace’s jazz dance, The Bachelor received a platinum, and took 1st place overall. It was nominated for video of the week. Her Contemporary dance, Deathly Hallows, got a high gold, and took 4th overall. Her tap small group, Girls, got high gold, and 3rd overall in the small group division.

Lake Area Dance was also awarded Top Intermediate Studio!! What a great end to a great competition!

 

 

 

Masquerade Nationals 2013

This past week, Lake Area Dance (LADC) participated in the Masquerade National Dance Championship in Burnsville, MN. It started on Monday with several Intermediate level solos. That night, after the awards ceremony, Masquerade had a Welcome Party for participants. They had pizza and a karaoke DJ. Last year, we missed the party, and the pictures looked like they had so much fun. This year, we were definitely NOT going to miss the welcome party! 044

Because Michael had his hip hop class, we weren’t able to go earlier to watch the solos perform. 061 We did make it on time for awards, and got to see  Madelyn J., Emilia S., Elizabeth D., and Eliana F. place in the overall top placements.  Then, we headed outside for pizza, and Grace kicked off the karaoke with some Taylor Swift. Pretty soon, girls (and one brave boy who sang a Minecraft parody) were singing one after another. The Lake Area dancers probably performed about every other song. Even some of the teachers joined in the fun. The party went on into the night, until the mosquitoes got bad, and we were pretty much the last ones there anyway…

On Tuesday, they offered Master Classes. Last year, Grace got to participate, and really enjoyed them. She wanted to do them again this year, but injured her pinky toe the week before Nationals. She was afraid it would be too hard to dance later in the week (when she was competing) if she danced on it at the intense level of the Master Classes. Several dancers in her group did take the classes, and really enjoyed them.

On Friday, Grace’s group (the Angels) was scheduled to compete. We got up early, headed out to Burnsville, and got there with plenty of time to spare. Once Grace was set up in the dressing room, and completely ready for her first dance – tap, I went to the auditorium to watch all the great dances. What a day! The dances were all incredible! Michael came with, and played his ipod with some of the other dance brothers.

The Angels were on fire that day! They nailed their tap dance. They had lots of energy, and their feet and arms were very together.  The judges seemed to agree, since they were one of only about a dozen groups (out of about 50) who got a platinum rating that morning.

The Lake Area Dance Center Angels with their choreographer/teacher, Mike Dietz.

The Lake Area Dance Center Angels with their choreographer/teacher, Mike Dietz.

They had a bit of a wait before their second dance of the day – lyrical. I’m not sure what was in all their lunches, but they were crazy before they went out and danced! Since I have to help Grace with a costume change backstage during that dance, I was back with them for quite a while.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them all so silly, but I’m thinking their teachers must have a lot of fun with them some days. They were very entertaining, to say the least.

Since I’m usually backstage during this dance, Tears of an Angel, I don’t usually get to see the whole thing. Masquerade has monitors back stage showing the dances, so this time, I watched it with all the other dancers/teachers that were back stage. It really is a beautiful dance, and so sad! Not sure if I’ve told the story line yet, but in short, it’s a girl who’s parents are in the hospital dying after an accident. The other girls are the angels around her… The girls did an amazing job. All the dancers backstage had nothing but wonderful things to say about it! 🙂  They were given a platinum score for their dance by the judges. In my opinion, it was equally as good as their tap dance.

Grace's scorpion

Grace’s scorpion

Several hours later, they performed their jazz dance, Cold Hearted Snake. The number right before them was to a song called Calling All the Monsters by South Metro Dance Academy. It was done REALLY well, and made me a bit nervous. Grace later told me that she had to stop watching them, because she was going to psych herself out… Immediately after her dance, Grace told me her inverted fan kick was not her best. I’d have to agree. She made some mistakes (and who hasn’t at some point?), but overall, as a group, they looked pretty good. There’s a section where most of them are doing scorpions. This is the section that seems to concern Miss Maria the most, but they nailed that part! The judges apparently thought they were pretty good too, as they scored them at the platinum level. Yep, triple platinum for these guys – AT NATIONALS!! 🙂

Crowded Spaces

Something a little different about the schedule this year, was that all the large groups competed on Friday. The good part about that, was that we got to see virtually all the dances of the day. The downside, was that it meant the dressing rooms were CROWDED! Our studio shared a dance studio sized dressing area with another decent sized studio, Jamm Dance Co. We had just over 60 dancers, they had close to 70. Imagine, 130 Dream Duffels in one room, plus you need walkways in between/room for dancers to change, plus parents trying to help… It was quite crowded. At first, the other studio was pretty spread out. I talked to one of the moms who didn’t realize how many people we had. They were happy to move over a bit so that it was split about 50/50 from a space perspective. I think we all appreciated that everyone was accommodating, and worked together. It made a potentially crappy situation a bit more bearable. Again, the sportsmanship between dance parents and between dancers was noticed and appreciated all around! 🙂

025 (3)Awards

Anyway, on to awards – most LADC dances in the afternoon received platinum awards. Though, don’t be mistaken, they weren’t just “handing them out”! Our petite group, the Sparkles, received a “Miss Things” Judges’ Award for their dance to “You Better Think.” Awards for categories our studio were in, were as follows:

Petite Recreational Large Group:

  1. At the Hop – St. Croix Valley Dance Academy (was asked back for a Petite Encore in Finals)
  2. Venus – Lake Area Dance Center (was asked back for the Mini Division National Champion Dance Off in Finals)
  3. Blue Suede Shoes – South Metro Dance Academy (my friend’s little boy and girl were both in this dance – very cute)
  4. Come Fly With Me – Lake Area Dance Center
  5. Shake Your Tail Feather – St. Croix Valley Dance Academy

Petite Intermediate Large Group:

  1. You Better Think – Lake Area Dance Center (asked to come back for a Petite Encore in Finals)
  2. Everybody Needs Somebody – Lake Area Dance Center
  3. All I Do Is Dream of You – Music General

142Junior Intermediate Large Group:

  1. Heads Will Roll – Lake Area Dance Center
  2. Cold Hearted Snake – Lake Area Dance Center
  3. Tears of an Angel – Lake Area Dance Center
  4. H-Force – Jamm Dance Co
  5. Munchkinland – Donna’s Doorway to Dance & Drama

Teen Recreational Large Group:

  1. Toy Soldier – Lake Area Dance Center (asked back for National Champion Recreational Division Dance Off in Finals)

Teen Intermediate Large Group:

  1. Hunger Games – Lake Area Dance Center (asked back for National Champion Large Group Dance Off in Finals)
  2. Velvet Rope – Lake Area Dance Center (asked back for National Champion Intermediate Division Dance of in Finals)
  3. Sing, Sing, Sing – South Metro Dance Academy (my friend’s daughter was in this dance, and was called back for a Teen Encore Performance in the finals. This dance was very together, and very well danced).
  4. How Will I Know – Jamm Dance Co
  5. Mission Impossible – Lake Area Dance Center

We were very proud of all the dancers, and that their hard work paid off! We were a bit confused (and a bit bummed), that the Angels were the only group from our studio that was not called back to Finals at all. Even after sweeping their division, they did not get called back for intermediate division, junior division, or for an encore. I tried to cheer Grace up by reminding her they took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Junior Intermediate Division, and that they were still champions. Unfortunately, it didn’t remove the disappointment she felt. Miss Maria assured all of us (via an email she sent that night) that Finals or no, the Angels’ results played an important part in the studio’s overall success, and that she was very proud of everyone’s hard work. When I read it to Grace, she felt a little better about the whole thing.

Finals

Saturday was Finals. Even though Grace wasn’t dancing, we went to cheer on our teammates. Also, last year, we missed the announcement that Lake Area Dance was Intermediate Studio of the year. She did NOT want to miss that if that were the case again this year.

When we first got there, Grace was still feeling bummed out, but was looking forward to what she knew would be an afternoon full of amazing dances. We were really excited about watching the Opening Number, also known as the Parade of Stars. Three Lake Area Dancers were included in this dance.  It was SO good!!!

077 (2)We had expectations of an amazing show, and it did not disappoint. Besides the amazing dances, highlights included the Sparkles (8-10 year olds) WINNING the Petite Encore Award; the Dreamlites (our teen group) WINNING the National Champion Large Group Dance Off, and a choreography award for the Hunger Games (way to go Mike Dietz); and Lake Area Dance being named Intermediate Studio of the Year. I don’t think there are words to describe the excitement over that title!! We are so proud to be part of such a great studio!

Masquerade Dance Competition- 2013

173This past weekend was the Masquerade Dance Competition for the Lake Area Dance Angels. This was the 3rd year Grace competed at this competition. It’s been a favorite every year.

This year, it seems as though they did their schedule differently. I’m not sure if it was actually different, or if I just didn’t notice in the past. What I do know, is that it was a LONG day! Grace’s first dance of the day was scheduled at 11ish. They were a little ahead, so it was more like 10:30 am when she danced. Her last dance of the day was scheduled for 8 something pm, but awards weren’t until about 10:30 pm or so.  It ended up that we were there for about 14 hours. I don’t know how the dance teachers do those long days over and over, weekend after weekend.

The Venue: 

Because we had some dancers that were entered at the Elite level, our studio competed at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center (PAC) rather than the Hopkins High School Auditorium we were at last year. We love this venue for competitions because of the spacious lobby areas, large auditorium, and beautiful courtyard.

There is a Subway nearby, and usually they have subs catered in. By the time we purchase them from the concession stand, the subs are often soggy. The convenience makes them worth purchasing in a time crunch. This year, they had hoagie style subs (not by Subway). They also had salads for sale. We still opted to walk over to Subway, but the sandwiches they had looked pretty good too (not soggy). In the evening, they sold wine, bottled beer, and mixed cocktails. This was the first time I had seen alcohol at a dance competition.

134There was also a booth selling Maui Wowie smoothies. I made a deal with Grace that if she successfully completed a move in her jazz dance that she’s been struggling with, that I would buy her a smoothie. Each smoothie was made with banana. We did not realize that fact until we were up to the smoothie stand. Grace is allergic to bananas. They were nice enough to make her smoothie without banana, but did not rinse out the blender in between. We told her that was probably ok, since there would be such a small amount of residue in the blender. This turned out to be a mistake. By the end of the night, Grace’s tongue felt swollen, and her mouth was itchy. From now on, Benedryl will be in our Dream Duffel at every competition!

The Schedule:

I mentioned that the schedule was done differently. Dances were divided up by the style of dance. Each dance style was ordered from petite (under age 8) recreational through elite, then juniors (8-12) recreational through elite.

The day started out with some solos, duets and trios. Then, all the ballet dances went, then all the tap dances, then musical theater. Then there was a break with some awards being given. After awards, which for our girls only included adjudication, not placement, came the petite elite duo/trios, then all the lyrical dances, pom pom, and some petite elite solos. Next were all the hip hop, Lines (think SUPER large group), then all the jazz. Encore dances were announced, and the last solos of the day.

The Judging:

004Judging was tough, as always at this particular competition. During the first award ceremony, the girls were given a high gold for their tap dance. Not many platinums were given out across the board; the ones that were, were mostly all Elite Level dancers. They didn’t let this stress them out. They performed their hearts out, and were awarded platinum for both their lyrical and jazz dances.

They also were ranked 3rd place in the Junior Intermediate Large Group category for their jazz dance, and 1st place in the same division for their lyrical dance. They didn’t place with tap, but they had given it their all.

The awards ceremony seemed to last forever. After what I thought would be the last announcement that would pertain to our girls (and Daniel), I headed back to the dressing room to gather all of our things. It was well after 11:00 pm, and we were wiped out. Soon after, the girls started coming in from on stage. They were all excited about getting first place. They were talking about their award for “being the best” with their lyrical. One of the girls said, “and then when they started playing our music, I couldn’t believe it!!” I stopped and said, “Wait, music? What? I didn’t hear the music.” Then they told me (pretty much all at once): “Yeah, when we got Best in Show!”  WHAT?!?!  I can’t believe I missed that announcement! 😦 Awesome for them though! Their lyrical dance got the top scoring dance of the day in the Junior Intermediate level!

Several dancers from our studio were chosen for the Parade of Stars at Nationals. This is a huge honor that allows selected dancers to perform in the opening number at the Final Award Ceremony at Nationals during the summer. Our studio is attending the National Competition for Masquerade at the same venue this regional was held at. Nationals are in the summer.

One thing I didn’t like about the awards ceremony: only the first place winners got to stand at the front of the stage. They bowed, and were sent back to their group. I definitely prefer when the entire placement order (or at least the top 3) all get to stand up there together, announce their studio, teachers, etc.

Other Notes:
The Masquerade “store” is always a popular stop. They always have  colorful masks, sweatpants, pajama pants, lots of different styles of shirts (including the one that has the names of all the dancers on the back), jewelry, and so much more! Programs were for sale for only $7 – a great price, I thought! They also had a “city package” for only $55. It came with a program, pen (that also had a highlighter on the other end), a t-shirt with the names of all studios and their dancers, and any pair of sweatpants.

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**Something important I learned at this competition, prop helpers are NOT supposed to wear anything that has their studio’s names on it when they go on stage. The judges are only given the letter name assigned to each studio. In theory, they do not know which studio is which. Apparently, some competitions are VERY strict on this, and it can hurt the scores if the prop helpers give away the identity of the studio. Unfortunately, I did not know this rule when I carried the chairs on stage for their tap dance at the beginning of the day. I don’t think Masquerade is one that docks for breaking the rule.

Although the day was long, I still love the Masquerade competition. They are high energy, have judges that are very personable and relate well with the kids, and really know how to keep the excitement up all day. The awards ceremonies are fun, even if the first place winners get all of about .02 seconds to revel in their win. Oh… and the pin they each get for getting Best in Show is pretty awesome too! 🙂

Related posts:

Masquerade Dance Competition 2011

Masquerade Dance Competition 2012

Masquerade Nationals 2012

Masquerade Dance Competition 2011

The 3rd and final competition that our awesome girls from Eau Claire School of Dance (ECSOD) competed in was Masquerade. This was probably my favorite of all of them. The girls from all the studios had so much energy!! Everyone was cheering for each other, it was awesome!

We got to see Grace’s 2nd (or 3rd) cousin dance. That was fun, since I’ve watched her growing up and dancing progress via facebook for years, but had never gotten to see her dance in person.

Another thing I liked, was that the first day they danced, they didn’t have to be there until 9 something. That meant we could stay at my fiance’s house and get ready there. The second day they danced, they were in a group tap dance with ALL the ECSOD dancers. They had to be there super early, so Grace and I got a hotel room nearby.

The Venue
Masquerade was held at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. It was gorgeous. There were amazing dressing room areas. The girls really felt like it was a big deal to be backstage with the lights, etc. The auditorium was huge, which made it Grace’s favorite place to dance. The inside and outside of this location was beautiful with plenty of space for people to hang out, groups to practice their dances, etc. It was also close to many hotels, food, etc. There was a parking ramp, but parking was free. All in all, just a great venue!

The event
Masquerade did an amazing job of keeping on track with the schedule. For the most part, they followed along in the order it was printed. IF they had to skip a number for costume changes, they announced it, and got them back on as quickly as possible.

There was a small store with some neat shirts, sweats, and dance gear, as well as a bunch of masquerade masks, which of course, EVERY girl wanted!! Their prices were very reasonable. The second day of the competition, they had t-shirts with the names of ALL the dancers sorted by school. I really wanted to get one for Grace, but she didn’t want one. Too bad, they were pretty cool!

The Competition
Again, there was some amazing competition!! It blew me away to see girls Grace’s age who had been dancing together for so long, and had such amazing chemistry. Several placement awards were given to Lake Area Dance, Energy Dance Center, and Spotlight Productions Dance Studio to name a few. After talking to one of the moms from Lake Area, I think we are going to see about having Grace go there next year (and hope she is able to compete with them).

The Judging
The judges were tough. The girls placed gold with both their ballet and jazz dances, high silver for their group tap. Many groups were scored lower than I thought they should have, but I think they were docking points for every little misstep, difference in costume, shoes, etc, in addition to docking for parents taking pictures. It was announced more than once that various groups faced disqualification due to parents taking pictures. There was a guy (we called him the “Picture Nazi”), who was walking the aisles watching very closely to make sure people weren’t taking pictures or video, even with their cell phones. There were some extra awards given out, but our girls didn’t receive any of those this time.

Other Notes
They had action photos taken at this competition too, but only two computers to view them on. I have been unsuccessful in finding the pictures on their website, where they said they’d later be available.

In summary, Masquerade was my favorite of the three competitions our girls danced in. The venue was great, the atmosphere was fun, and the competition was tough.

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