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Rose's First Weekend of Dance Competition

Apr 03 2016

After ten years of dance classes, our 14 year old daughter, Rose, decided to join her studio's competition team for the first time this year.  This weekend was the first of three weekends this month that her team will be competing.  This time it was through a company called "Groove", and it was held at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center with 11 teams from three states.  While my wife, Sue, and I travelled back and forth the 50 minute drive each day, Rose stayed with her team in an area hotel.  For those of you have never attended a weekend long dance competition, here's what my weekend was like:

      It started with my getting kicked out of the girls' dressing room.  Actually, it was a gym, and I had no idea what it was going to be used for this weekend.  I was just in their carrying my daughter's bags for her.  It made sense that the girls would require an entire gymnasium for costume changes, though.  There were probably 250 dancers this weekend, and I counted seven males!  If I were to be a teenager again, knowing what I know now, I would definitely take up dance!

    The competition began Friday afternoon, which means Sue and I had already spent a full day teaching school.  It began at 4:30 and went until 11:00.  There were 135 performances that evening, including Rose's duet with her partner, Emily. Since this is Rose's first year competing, she does not do solos yet.  Her instructor requires a year on the team before they can dance alone. Because it was livestreamed on the internet, her oldest sister, Jona-Lynn was able to watch it live.  It was so cool to receive texts from Jo who was so proud of her little sister.  While we enjoyed the evening, watching 134 routines that did NOT involve Rose got long.  By the end of the evening, if I had seen one more sequin, I think I'd have had a seizure!

All dances are scored based on a set of criteria that then earns them a silver, gold or platinum medal.  They do not compete routine against routine, but against the given standards the judges (all professional dance educators) used.  Rose and Emily earned a gold; not bad for their first time.  Again, big sister Jo was watching live and texting us how pleased she was for her little sister.

Saturday began at 8:00 AM, although the dancers had already had two classes. Sue and I didn't arrive for the start, but we were in plenty of time for Rose's next routines.  Both were group routines involving several of her teammates.  Both routines received 'high' gold, which I assume, means on the high score end of the gold scale (and Rose says I don't understand the subtleties of dance!) 

I was pleasantly surprised with how many songs from the 60's 70's and 80's were used by teams.  One of the pieces Rose was in was to a remake of Bob Dylan's "Forever young". Other pieces were done to "Country Roads", Sounds of Silence", "Coming to America", "the Rose" and more. 

While there was quite a diversity of body types and races, there did seem to be a disproportionate number of tall, slender white girls with buns in their hair.  There were at least a dozen girls I thought were Rose from a distance; fortunately, I didn't come up behind any of them and hugged them! 

 Dancing culture is unique, I noticed. At one point, I went to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee, and there were scores of dancers in the hall dressed in fringe, heavy make up, glitter, huge tutus, big hair, feathers, and wild costumes.  I swear, I saw a tie-dyed ostrich!  I thought I had taken a wrong turn and ended up in the capital of Panem! 

Sunday was the final day of the competition, and Rose was in one more piece.  Again, they received a 'high' gold, so it was clearly a successful weekend.  But better than any of the scores, or even the performances, was watching Rose with her team.  At times she sat in the auditorium doing homework.  how did we get such a responsible kid?  Another time, as the judges were going over final scores, there was dance music playing (what else), and she and several of the girls from her studio circled up and began free styling to the music.  They were having so much fun.

Even as I write this from my living room couch, rose is still at the Performing Arts Center because one of her teammates, Hannah, is dancing tonight.  We expect her in around midnight.  We can't wait to really hear her behind the scenes tales form the weekend.








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