First and foremost, we would like to thank you - our KickStarter supporters - for contributing and making our dream a reality. Let’s go back a couple weeks before the convention/competition and share with you how it all evolved. . .
Taking a big breath, we launched ourselves into the final rehearsals for nationals with the excitement in the promise of the support of KickStarter. The team gathered each day to perfect each aspect of every dance, often dancing four to five hours at a stretch. Each number went under intense scrutiny, choreography was reworked and memorized and the dancers strove to make each movement personally their own. The team had 14 days left to perfect their art!
At each practice there was a buzz about the support growing on KickStarter. With the rising backing, there was also a rising of the moral and resolve of the team. Each entertainer in the troupe took to heart the enormity of others coming to stand beside them to help make this dream a reality. Every day they would discuss what more could be done to spread the word and guarantee success. We did suffer one loss. Bailey, also an accomplished swimmer, had to bow out of the troupe in order to finish out a very promising season. With her encouragement the team pushed on. As we got nearer and nearer to our departure date, and closer and closer to the goal, the elation and trepidation mounted. Would we make it? Imagine the excitement and joy when the goal was reached late on the 11th! It felt incredible to know people believed in us that much.
And finally the day came. Almost everyone took to the road Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, and by the evening of the 12th the whole team and their families had trickled into Vegas and settled into our various hotels. After making sure we all had the game plan for the next day, the kids hit the strip to take in the sights. They were thrilled by the excitement, people, and the fantastic water, fire and light displays with the brightly showcased casinos in the background.
The first day of the convention/competition came early; check in time was at 7:30 am. The classes began promptly at 8:00 am in 45 minute bursts consisting of ballet, contemporary, jazz, jazz funk, tap, and hip hop. Right away our team was impressed with both the caliber of their teachers, and by the attitude of the other dancers. Normally at competitions, most of the teams are aware of each other and their reputations. Some of the teams then carry themselves in an aloof manner from the competitors considered less talented then they. Here, everyone was starting out as equals. There seemed to be no egos. Immediately the dancers began intermingling and making connections.
The team was delighted to take classes from dancers they had idolized. Ade, Marko, and Kent from So You Think You Can Dance, and Roman, a famous hip hop artist and choreographer, for example, instructed, encouraged and influenced the performers to the fullest of their ability. For three days they took seminars in a wide range of styles from 8 am to 2 pm. Starting on Saturday, following the courses, competition began.
Sierra was the first to take the stage, performing her contemporary solo “How”, receiving a High Gold (awards run from Silver, Gold, High Gold, to Platinum), marking a great start to the competition and Stylz’s showing at nationals. The next night Calin and Peter completed their solos and Peter and Andy rocked their duet. Both solos brought in High Golds while the duet, “I’m A Geek”, drew smiles, cheers and a Platinum from the judges.
Monday was the big group day for the troupe. Their first number came on strong. “Our Land” is an African dance piece that is quite unique, usually surprising crowds as they have yet to experience the style. Our performers attacked it fiercely and roused the judges with the powerful beat and their energetic execution. They had the whole audience mesmerized as they moved as one, stomping, whirling, circling and leaping, finishing amid shouts, whistles and applause. “Iced” proved to be another crowd pleaser as the struggle between the Ice Queen (Izzy) and her Rival (Calin) for the affections of the Lover (Peter) became increasingly intense. Both dances left a lasting impression. “Iced” took a High Gold and “Our Land” was recognized with a Platinum.
Our last dance had been honored with first place over all at regionals and so had been entered into the “Battle of the Stars” competition, of which there were only six other group numbers distinguished. Our dancers had gathered with their teachers, Michelle and Lisa, for one last rallying cry and run through. After three days of intense workshops where they had danced six hours daily, followed by afternoons at the pool, evenings sight seeing and the stress of competition, our team was exhausted. As they burst from their rousing huddle to storm onto stage, no trace of the last three days remained. “DJ Cut” rocked!!!! All the months of hard work, the deep friendships forged, the sweat, blood, laughter and unity of movement paid off. “DJ Cut” received a High Gold in the “Battle”, but the highest praise came in the prize of First Place Over All for Hip Hop at Nationals!! Needless to say the triumph at the awards presentation was met with elation and satisfaction.
The finale of nationals came with dual delights. The team gathered to dress up for the formal Gala. Not only were they excited to see their teachers and judges perform, but two of their team (Sierra and Jamie) had been chosen to dance in the Gala with their acclaimed instructors. The performances that night amazed and inspired us all.
Everyone left sometime the following day to return to Colorado. The experience, education and the victory will not be forgotten. It was especially satisfying for the team to have achieved so much and take home the recognition and achievement in line with the generous support given. Thank you again for making it all possible. We are hard at work on the rewards paired to your donations and will have them to you as soon as possible. Please respond to the upcoming request for shipping information so we know where to send your reward.