Thursday, December 11, 2008

You saw the photos, now read the stories of State Dance oh 9

Lulu in her tutu


This was our third and last State Dance Tournament. My baby is going on to college next year and so, we are routinely aware that each thing we do is our 'last' one of this and such (fill in the blank). This was our last State Tournament, so we were anxious to do this one up right! We wanted trophies, we wanted photos, we wanted a cohesive team, we wanted memories, we wanted it. all.

The girls have so many team traditions they enjoy and though they may change them up a bit here and there, they remain basically intact since the inception of the team, approximately 12 years ago.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is "Dress Rehearsal". Dress Rehearsal is a big deal. The girls invite all their friends and family. Former dance team members and parents come. It's a wonderful reunion for all!

J-man, me, Lulu and M

Each routine the girls will perform at state is performed in full costume, makeup and hair, twice through. There are paparazzi and mamarazzi. It's a true media frenzy.

After Dress Rehearsal, it's off to pizza with the dancers and their families. The girls are paired each year as a Big Sis, Little Sis. At the pizza feed, the girls exchange carefully chosen and often handmade gifts. Much laughing, much eating, much giggly fun.

(Lulu (r) and her lil sis)

On Wednesday, of the Week of State, there is a slumber party at our home (yes, in the middle of the week---yawn), where the girls make tutus and messes. Yes, apparently it is a time-honored tradition for each dancer to make a tutu, the crazier the better, pair it with leggings, funky hand-embellished T-shirts and cute braided hairstyles.

The Tutus posing in the lobby the
two dancers on the rt., in the back
had had the flu for days,
thus no sleepover or tutus for them

Thursday morning the dancers arise early (yawn), leaving a tornado's worth of mess (but who cares? it's our last Slumber Party). They all head out the door, in their tutus and braids, shirts and leggings and go to breakfast at the local pancake palace.

The girls are treated with much kindness and well-wishes by the wait staff, who truly seem to welcome them (which is remarkable, really, because who wants 12 girls in your restaurant, giggly and sparkley and tutu-ed at 6:30 AM and not likely to be big tippers). But
the pancake palace is literally 2 blocks from the high school, so I suppose they are used to this sort of happy, chaotic madness.

They wear their tutus to school, a very visible show of team spirit, arriving to lockers which have been decorated by the moms. It's a fun send off day for the girls. Bag check is at the school at 4:00 SHARP and then the girls, chaperones and Coach hop the school bus and ride for two hours of fun, snacks, giggling ang dreaming.

The rest of the parents go to Des Moines before the girls, arriving with their duffles and decorations and treats to surprise the dancers. Such fun. For the moms, anyway. The dads are some of the most involved male parents I've ever known. Dedicated, often unseen and mostly un-thanked sherpas, is what they are. Beasts of burden. They ROCK. Remember, there is not an ounce of tackling, take downs or tee offs and an overabundance girly girl foreign frufru. How do those dads do it? They love their daughters, that's how.

As soon as the girls arrive at the hotel, they change into practice clothes and head to the ballroom that has been rented for them. It will be their last practice and polish of all routines. By the time practice ends, the dancers are exhausted. Frazzled. Ready for bed (a miracle, since they have been living on adreneline for a week). They open their gifts, have a bedtime snack (notice the food theme here?) and off to bed to they. The parents do the same, wisely turning in, as they know what's on deck for the next day.

The day of the State Dance Tournament begins early and ends late. As in competition for the first team is 8 AM and the last is at 9 PM. Can you believe it? There is a one hour break at lunch, but other than that, every 3 minutes a new team is announced and a new routine performed. About 240 routines, give or take. In that one arena. There is anothe venue, right next door, with a similar schedule. Oh, my aching bleacher butt. lol

This year, the Dance gods smiled upon the Dance Team, as their first performance was not until 1:00 PM. The second was around 7 PM and the last one around 8 PM. Suh-weet! Breakfast, hair, makeup, dress and over to the arena, parents trotting after, schlepping, gathering, fetching. And taking pictures all the while, with a smile.

First routine is the jazz to a song called, "I Really Want You", by James Blunt. Two pretty big bobbles had the parents holding their breath and preparing their "You can do it!" speeches. One lovely young lady, who was doing a sort of solo during the dance, danced right off the floor and onto the concrete. Big no-no (or so we thought--as this had never happened before, we were at a loss over knowing how big of a zinger this would be to the routine's score).

The other big moment? One of our dancers rolled her ankle and fell. ::gasP:: She had had surgery on the ankle the year before and it had healed and served her well, until State.

the girls waiting for their jazz music to begin

Mark (my awesome husband) is a physical therapist, so he was called upon to assess the injury and head off to purchase tape, braces, etc. to shore up the ankle for the two remaining routines. Never a dull moment at the State Dance Tournament.

The pom routine was darling, with a Monopoly theme, incorporating the music and costuming. They girls performed it FLAWLESSLY! We held our signs, we whistled and squealed. We were *those* parents.

each leo had a game pice logo on the back--how cute.

Lastly, with only an hour to undress, redress and re-makeup we waited to cheer the girls on in their favorite (by far) routine, their Mario Brothers themed hip hop routine. We all wore our fake Mario and Luigi mustaches, even the baby, a nephew of one of the dancers. We stomped and hollered and whistled and squealed.

if we smiled, the mustaches fell off, so no smiles!

And once again, our dancers performed their routine FLAWLESSLY. Perfection. No matter the outcome, the girls knew that they had done their best and they would have nothing to be ashamed of. No regrets. Even our injured girl danced her heart (and ankle) out. GAME OVER.Trophy time. One entire year worth of work and planning. Once entire year since State Dance 2008, when our girls left the tournament with no trophies. And the award ceremony seeeemed to last one year.

Results? Jazz routine? Division 1 rating. But, no trophy. OK. We knew
we had some issues with that routine. No biggie. Shake it off.
Monopoly themed pm routine? Division 1 rating. No trophy? What? How could that be? Hmm...there is that sense of being robbed, like watching an American gymnast being undercut by the former Soviet state judge.

Serious nail-biting anxiety at this point. All. that. work. All. that. sweat. All the investment.

What will the judges think of our Mario Brothers routine? It was a risk. The girls danced in work boots (the real deal), Carhart overall, long sleeved T-shirts and caps. The music was real-deal Mario music mixed with hip hop. Although the Mario routine was a *serious* crowd favorite, sometimes that seems to ::ahem:: upset the judges, versus energizing them in your favor.

The routine was named among those who scored high enough to earn a Division 1 rating. OK. But what about a trophy? 4th place.

Again, the girls felt a bit robbed/slighted/misunderstood. sigh But after some sniping and griping about judges and how they cannot be understood (a great mystery is the mind of a dance judge), the girls got into the spirit of things, posed for their pictures and went back to the hotel, hungry, happy, ready to PARTAY!!

And because this is the last State Dance Tournament, even the parents were having ummmmm... "more fun than they should have", or "more fun than their daughter's were comfortable with". ha

Bet you can figure out which caption goes with which photo...

Here's the clip of the trophy award for the Mario routine. By far the best part of the clip is the last 2 seconds, where one of our little dancers pulled a teeny tiny Faith Hill/Carrie Underwood at the CMA Awards show (the girl to watch is in a green Luigi shirt, brunette, no hat, on the far right of the screen. her "what?" reaction is as the first place team is announced). Can't blame her. We all felt that way---it's just that no-one filmed the parent's reaction (thankfully).

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