March 28th 2015, a day that I had been preparing for months. This was the day I would be dancing in my first competition, my 11 other teammates and I were going in to the stressed world of dance. We had been practicing since October. From the time of October to March we had time to correct and fix every mistake. The week of the competition we had had two extra rehearsals. We were confident as a team nothing would go wrong. Then came the day of the competition, I was about to get ready and pack up all of my things. Then I got a text from a friend of mine who was on the team, she said “Did you hear what happened?”
I immediately freaked out and had my mom check her email from our competition coach, there was no email from her. But there was an email from one of the moms saying her daughter would not be competing. She was offend by something the dance coach did and took it against the whole team. She let us down, and now we had to redo many parts of our dance.
There were multiple emails between the moms and the coach. I could tell that the moms were angry and felt like she set the team up for failure. We were so confused why someone would do this a few hours before we would be on the stage dancing. I had many questions, I was already stressed out. “Why would she do this?” I repeatedly asked my mom, none of us had an answer. I did my makeup and went over my list of “things to bring to a dance competition”. We eventually left for the competition, I couldn’t wait for the new experiences I would encounter.
Arriving at my first dance competition we were told to go to the green room. We walked through a school hallway with booths set up selling tee shirts. When she said green room I envisioned a dancer’s dream filled with sparkling costumes, hair pieces widespread, and a room full of excited dancers. Everything about this was true there were many extravagant costumes and good dancers but there was also a room full of tension. Tables were set up with studio names on them.
The tables had big boxes of makeup and hairspray people had brought. Countless racks filled with sequin costumes filled up what once was a high school lunch room. It was hard to do my best while watching other dancers who I would be competing against. Practicing or stretching when there is someone ten times better then you right across the room made me feel insecure. There were dance moms everywhere putting fake eyelashes on their daughters, some of the moms even spraying their children down with glitter. Walking through this room knowing our dance would not be the best was nerve wreaking. I wanted to do my best and not embarrass myself in front of the judges and the audience. I knew I had to dance to my full potential. After we got settled we did our hair and put on costumes. Then came time to change our dance. We were forced to change our dance because our teammate let us down. Many parts were disparate, the one thing I was focused on was remembering the alterations. After knowing a dance for months it was challenging to let go of parts I had memorized and replace them. I knew I couldn’t let my team down.
By the time we got backstage I was marking all of the changes with my teammates. I was checking out the stage to see what I would be dancing on. There was a huge sign that said “Triple S dance”. The black floor was smooth and perfect for turning. We were watching the dancers and occasionally some parents with “Dance mom” or “Caroline’s mom” on the back of their shirts removing props from the stage. There were girls with huge poofs in their hair practicing turns and leaps. It was hard to believe that they were in the 11-12 age range. “We have to go against them” I whispered in my teammate’s ear.” I tried to ignore the fact that we would be competing against them. I knew that it was better to focus on our dance and make it the best.
Eventually the called 115 the number before us. We knew it was time for us to get ready. We gave each other a group hug, and got in our positions.
Once the music started playing I knew I wouldn’t mess up. I remember seeing the bright lights blinding my view of the judges, the audience, and the competition. I did leaps, turns, and jumps. I danced with my heart knowing that everything would be fine. I made a few minor mistakes but dancing was the most important thing. Then the music died down, this was the end of my dance.
My team and I were so excited and relived. At this point it didn’t if we won or lost we had worked as a team. We ran back to the big room and many other teams congratulated us, we felt like winners. “My foot wasn’t completely pointed during the leap”, “My palm wasn’t flat during the jump” were many things I heard. After hearing all of these all I could think about was what place we were going to get. We went and watched all of the dances, most of them weren’t in our category so it made watching more enjoyable.
It eventually came time for us to go to the awards ceremony. Every studio competing went on to the stage eager to win an award. They played music on the stage everyone danced, they threw out wristbands and tee shirts, and everyone was having a good time. All the teams had their own individual signs, some covered with glitter and lights, and there were even awards for signs. We went through all the categories solo, duet, trio, small group dance, and finally large group dance. I was getting tired of watching girls go up in sparkly jackets get crowns placed on their heads. When the directors got to large group dance jazz we were so excited.
We had planned out who would be getting the award, unfortunately it was not me. Many teams in our studio had just gotten first place and special awards. They finally announced that my team had gotten second in our category, my heart dropped. After this I knew we weren’t considered for the overall awards. We all got ribbons and pins for our jackets along with a trophy for our studio.
I felt like I let my studio down, almost as if it was my fault. Then I realized I am here to have fun, not to win. It’s about the journey and how my team worked together. We may have had a few bumps along the way but that’s how life will always be. Working with a team is one of the main reasons I am fond of competitions. The important thing is that we overcame challenges as a team and worked hard.