The most important thing to remember is that we took home the gold. Let’s not focus on the fact that there was a platinum award above that, or that we took second place out of only two adult groups in the competition. No, all that really matters is this: We took home the gold!
So, last weekend’s competition was a bit of a mixed bag. While being the only studio who brought adults to compete meant we swept the awards in that category (the platinum/1st place award went to the adult jazz group of which I’ll be a member next year), it also took away some of the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a non-default victory. Regardless, we danced our booties off and performed extremely well, and if there had been other adults competing, we totally would have danced circles around them.
Saturday’s competition was followed by a full day of workshops on Sunday. These classes were led by the very talented professionals who had judged us the day before, and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to learn from such accomplished dancers. The only unfortunate thing is that we adults were placed in the Senior classes — that’s High School Senior (a/k/a the most advanced teens at the competition), not Senior Citizen (a/k/a how most of us felt by the end of the day). So we basically spent the day doing all we could not to embarrass ourselves while trying to keep up with the triple pirouettes, beautiful leaps, and full-out splits that the young, flexible girls executed without batting an eye.
The day began and ended with jazz, which was by far the hardest for me due to the endless leaps and turns and splits — basically all the techniques I’ve always struggled with most — the techniques whose absence from Tap is something about which you will never hear me complain. At one point during the last jazz class of the day, we were instructed to come out of a turn, slide down to the floor in a straddle-split, roll through that into regular splits, then do something that got us standing up again…I have no idea what the last part was because about the time the instructor said “slide down into your straddle” another woman and I looked at each other and all but collapsed in a fit of laughter. There was just no way our bodies were going to manage anything remotely resembling what the man was asking for.
After the morning jazz class, we moved on to Ballet. It was the first ballet class I’d taken in probably 10 years, and it was one hell of a workout. I’ve never enjoyed ballet, but I maintain a very high level of respect for accomplished ballet dancers. It’s amazing how you can be standing in one place doing what seems like a very simple step, and the next thing you know you are dripping in sweat because every muscle in your body is working so hard to maintain the necessary form and control. It felt good, actually. Not so good that I’m about to sign myself up for a weekly ballet class, but good nonetheless. The main problem I had with ballet was that it had been so long since I’d taken a class that I’d forgotten all the names of the steps. This meant that through the entire class I had no idea what any of the words coming out of the instructor’s mouth meant. He’d rattle off instructions for a routine, everyone would nod along, and I’d step back as the first group took off dancing and do my best to mimic whatever they did when it was my turn. I think I did okay, all things considered.
After ballet was Tap, and thank goodness. It was the only workshop of the day in which I felt remotely competent. The instructor was fabulous, and even though the steps were almost impossibly fast and the floor was a little too slippery, I kept up with the class and had a fantastic time.
The other workshop was Hip Hop. We half-joked the night before about sneaking a couple of airplane-sized bottles of wine to help us very, very white women make it through an hour of hip hop, but we didn’t actually follow through with that plan. We should have.
All in all, the competition weekend was a really fun experience. Hopefully there will be more adults competing next year, but even if there aren’t, my studio plans to bring more adult numbers so we’ll be sure to have more competition, even if only amongst ourselves. It also seems likely that we’ll get to take the teachers’ workshops, which will be a little more appropriate for our skill level. I definitely got my ass kicked at the workshops, but I tried my hardest and made it through all five hours of far-above-my-level dancing without giving up. I may have won the gold by default on Saturday, but, dammit, I earned that gold medal on Sunday. And for that, I am very proud of myself.