Hi, it’s been a while since we’ve caught up! Last weekend was the first competition of the competitive season at my dance studio, KAR dance competition. In the past, we have competed there and often done pretty well. Here’s last years post about this competition if you want to see how my experience was like in the previous season. This year was also a pretty crazy season, with the most pieces competed before from our studio, someone getting kicked off team (and me having to step in to their place), duets and trios, and a new image for our studio under a new artistic director. There is a lot riding on this season and since we did well in the past at KAR, we were excited for this competition. However, strong studios and talented dancers made this our hardest and most eye opening competition ever.
Out of the four dances I competed in, saturday had three of them in it, my pointe duet, lyrical trio, and contemporary small group piece. I had to get up bright and early (6:00AM) to show up at the studio for a full ballet warm up. We did a run through of the pieces and then got ready to leave for the competition. At the venue, my teachers talked to the directors to change the order of go since I only had ten minutes in between my duet and trio, and trio was first, and my teachers thought I would be more comfortable doing pointe work before. I was nervous since it was my first time performing a duet or trio in a competitive setting, would the judges like my pieces, would I mess up?
I got into my satin pointe shoes, and white delicate ballet costume and began warming up. I was really nervous at that point(e) (haha get it<- ) (okay I’ll stop) and started to doubt all the training and effort I had already put in. Our number was called and before I knew it I was called on stage. It wasn’t the best run. I was really tense and while getting all the steps right, I didn’t feel like I enjoyed the dance. To be honest, I just wanted to get through it without falling or messing up. I don’t think i did bad, but it wasn’t the most artistic performance I could have done.
Next I got changed for trio really fast and when that happened, I found out my costume was too big! My skirt, which was supposed to fit right over my belly button, slip down to my hips! My teacher frantically tried to figure something out until she decided to just screw it and I went out to dance. This felt like a good run. After a girl got kicked off of team in december, I was set to be put in her place. It was a last minute change and our teacher put in the least amount of hours to our piece, just hoping things would work out. Our performance wasn’t perfect, far from it, but all three of us did our best and all we were given and I felt powerful afterwards, floating above the stage as I finished and walked off.
Now it was awards. The duet and trio were competing against each other which meant I was technically competing against myself. We were also competing against a contemporary duet from our studio with the two favorites and the strongest dancers in our age group. After the excitement died down and overalls began being announced. Our teacher whispered to us, “Girls let’s go, you did not place, I know your scores were not high enough.” All three sets of the duet trios looked at each other in surprise and disappointment, we thought at least one of us would place and this was a shock. It see worked so hard and got nothing. We walked off stage quietly with our teacher, probably looking like terrible sports and went backstage. I prayed something weird would happen and one of us actually would place, but it never happen. Sometimes your best isn’t good enough, I remembered my ballet teacher telling me earlier. I heard those words repeated in my head and sighed, there’s a big world out there with so many amazing people.
After that disappointing morning, I changed into my next costume, a Hamilton-esque costume. Our dance is to the song Run Boy Run, and about breaking free from society. We are wearing red-coat like costumes and I have to say, I think it looks sick and really different from the classic lyrical and sassy jazz competition judges are used to seeing. We ate lunch and got ready to to onstage. I took a breath and got ready to perform. I felt grounded and let go of expectations and the stress. It was my third performance so I didn’t have the nervousness and the fear, I just wanted to dance.
Afterwards, it felt so good. I felt refreshed and happy. Awards came along and we didn’t expect much after the awards this morning. Then, our name was called! Fourth Overall! And a judges choice award for fierceness! Proud, and satisfied I went home, after watching some amazing soloists, getting inspired by the raw talent and hard work I could see. The cool thing about dance is even though it’s only a couple minutes of a performance, you can see the detail and hard work that went into it if you look closely enough. That’s what i love about watching dance, you can see the effortlessness on stage, but also all the hours spent in the studio, conjoined into a brilliant show. I went home and got ready for the next day, I would only be in one piece which meant a more relaxing, calmer day.
I woke up early-ish, around 8:30 which doesn’t seem that early I guess to some, but it’s a sight to see me up before 9 on weekends. I did my make up and went to the studio to get my hair braided and done for the performance I had today. The teacher was being extra hard on all of us. After seeing the competition, I could tell she was nervous and stressed that we wouldn’t be able to place again like the duets and trios the previous morning. I too was a little worried and I could sense the energy around me was similar.
We got to the competition and went to the corner where we kept our stuff in the dressing room yesterday. Some moms from our studio were their since when doors opened up at eight so we got the tiny corner for ourselves. All of a sudden one of the other teams racks fell down. It thudded to the floor, sparkly costumes falling to the ground. A mom from that team glared at us, “You’re breaking our stuff.” We were taken back, we hadn’t touched the rack or expected such aggressiveness from a mom. But we knew better than to talk back, we all mumbled sorrys but it wasn’t enough. “You know you can’t save spots. Our team was here first.” This was the first time a fight, even one as small as this happened at a dance competition. we bit back our tongues even though we want dot yell back that we’ve been here all morning. That we were taking up about 1/8 of what your studio is taking up. That she shouldn’t pick on kids like us. But we were silent and luckily were moved to a roomy dressing room, just for us!
We changed into matching tee shirts and jeans. Our dance, to the song Castle on the Hill, is about coming home. As a play on words, our teacher thought of homecoming, and put us all in street clothes and varsity jackets. The jackets don’t come on until the last half when we all unite. This dance is a large group so it’s a bigger dance than the ones before. Since there are more people it’s easier to hid if you make a mistake so i wasn’t as scared as before my duet. But, I still knew I had to try my best and when i stepped onto the stage, I put away all the anxiety and tiredness and transformed into a preppy girl, returning home and having fun. It was a good run, but the other dances in our category were amazing. We were not allowed to watch, as it would make us nervous, but I could hear the cheering in the audience from backstage, and heard the team before us had a huge trampoline where they would jump and flip off of. Other dances had girls who could turn over four pirouettes consistently and in sync with each other.
Awards. We weren’t expected much again and as they announced the places, we saw that many strong teams have already been called up. All of us assumed we didn’t place and sat there sadly. 5th Place. Our hopes went up. Not us. 4th Place. Our hopes went up. Not us. 3rd Place. Our hopes went up. Not–Wait, that is us! That was probably the loudest I screamed and we all ran up hugging the trophy thinking this was too good to be true. Third place in such a hard division in category was pretty unbelievable!
The weekend came to an end and I think I learned a lot. I learned that there is a big world out there and you will never be the best. I learned that sometimes you just need to breathe and relax. I learned to come with low expectations and go from there. But finally, I learned to have hope and faith in yourself. That the hours you put in will eventually be recognized. I have another competition next week and I’m so excited for it and hope that my next performances will be better than before.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!