Monday, August 24, 2015

Competition Jacket Came In!

So, Shara's dad bought her an official competition jacket for her birthday to wear in the ice-cold ballrooms over her costumes.  We went into the studio for a West Coast Swing class, and not only were we able to pick up her jacket, but we also got on the list for this weekend's events - the Professional Competition on Friday night, and a show with renowned Latin World Champions, Maurizio and Andra, during the Into the Woods ball.  We're pretty excited, and by we, I mean I'm pretty excited, and the stoic teenage female thinks it's "cool."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lone Star Results Came In!

We got Shara's results and plaque from the Lone Star competition back in May, where she danced all Latin with Daniel.

So if we do the math, the girl she was going up against beat Shara four times (or six if you count the championship round) and Shara beat that girl eleven times (or twelve if you add in the championship round).


I will say that Tiny Dancer was pleased to hear that, simply because the loss in the championship round shook her confidence a smidgen. Taking first in every round at the competition the following weekend really helped, and knowing that the choreography that they put together for her was a reflection of their confidence in her ability to learn it helped, too. 

From here until the end of the year, it will be working on choreography for the October Spotlight, which will be an Open Swing to Uma Thurman and potentially a preview of her Dancescape choreography.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Level Passing 8/20/15

So, tonight was the Level Passing party.  Shara did her six main dances, and scored 95's across the board.  I think she was passing out of Preliminary Advanced Bronze and into Intermediate Advanced Bronze.  Once she finishes Intermediate Advanced, she moves into Final Advanced and then she goes into Silver.  Once she starts Silver, she should also be starting International.  I believe she is entering Final Advanced Bronze sometime in the beginning of next year, but don't quote me on that.  I am way too tired tonight to post much in the way of detail about tonight's event.  Tomorrow we go back to work on the comments the judge suggested, and another bout of choreography.  She finally worked most of the soreness out from last week.  Some of those lifts are a little brutal for a first timer, but she's getting it!

Okay, in order:

She starts her second semester of college next week, so wish us luck maintaining sanity!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

New Dress for January

Today was the day!  We picked up the dress from The Singing Seamstress today.  Here are the promised pictures.

She always looks that excited when I ask her to do anything.  For someone who is pursing her dream, she has an awfully "teenager" attitude a little too often for my taste.

Once she tried it on with shoes and did some dancing in it, we messaged the seamstress and decided to add an extra skirt layer to the back, so in addition to the crystals, it will get a slight design modification, to adapt to the extreme movement in her choreography.

Note the lovely new shoes, her new practice pair with the three inch heels.  She has been wearing 2 1/2 inch heels since she started last year, so we don't expect her to have any difficulty adapting to the new height.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Show Choreography and Mini Match

It has definitely been a busy week.

We got a call on Tuesday morning that we could come to the studio and watch the choreographer work on her solo.  Of course we went!  I have to be honest.  As I watched, I felt a little like the Len Goodman in the room.  I would have liked to see more Argentine Tango content, but what they put together will be really great when she learns it and they smooth it out.  I think there are about five challenging lifts, though it may be more if we include the trust fall and the floor drag.  I absolutely CANNOT post any early video since this is all proprietary stuff, but let me tell you how impressed I was at how challenging they made it for her.  It will definitely be a growing experience for her.

 I did get a fantastic picture of her face when she saw the first lift they were working on, and it was pretty humorous.

 So fast forward a few days, and today was Mini Match.

Since we're putting most of our money towards Spotlight in October and her solo in January, she only danced each of her competitive dances once.  I was so proud of how improved her Rumba was, and so disappointed that I pushed the wrong button and ended up with pictures instead of video of that dance!  I have video of the other eight, and we should have her comment sheets later this week or next.

 She actually thought it was really funny that I got an accidental picture with the camcorder that looks almost identical to one I accidentally took with Matt back in January.



 Some of you might notice the bandage around poor Matt's head.  Long story, and not really mine to tell, but suffice to say, he's mostly okay, and the studio named their themed super hero after him:  Captain Calamity.

So, two exiting things - we pick up Shara's custom costume (shout out to The Singing Seamstress for all of her amazing work!) tomorrow, and the guys have agreed to let her try out three inch Latin heels.  She really needs to start physical therapy to stretch the tendons in her feet, but we're having a disagreement with the insurance company, so it may be a little while before we start those.  We pick up her smooth shoe inserts on Monday, so with those in the smooth and the slightly taller heel in the Latin, it may really help, though she definitely needs to make sure those tendons are expanding before she's old enough for them to settle.  Anyhow!  Exciting stuff - tall shoes and a new dress, so expect pictures tomorrow night!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dancing With the Stars on Tour

So, one of Tiny Dancer's birthday presents this year was a pair of tickets to see Dancing With the Stars during their tour.  I didn't realize how far Corpus Christi was when I bought them, because despite living in Texas all of my life, I had never actually been before.  I didn't know how late the show would run, but I knew that starting at 8 at night, it would be unlikely that I would be comfortable driving back immediately afterwards, so I went ahead and booked a room for Sunday night, and we drove up Sunday morning. 

We took the day to do a little sightseeing, touristy shopping, and visited "The Blue Ghost" along with the Aquarium.  Shara got to pet the sting rays during feeding time.

We checked into the room, then took the hotel shuttle over to the auditorium, along with some others staying at the hotel who were attending.

We picked up a souvenir program, and headed to our (excellent) seats.

 We were in row E, on the stage right side of the theater. 

 The show was fantastic.  All of the pros did such a great job, though it seemed like Kyo was having some problems with his shoulder, which was taped up with athlete tape.   They did group numbers, trios, duos, and Shara got a lot out of watching.  When we go to competitions or participate in studio events, unless we are able to stay for all of the pro dancing, which we just aren't always able to do, then she only sees the pros dancing with amateurs.  While she can still learn from this, actually being up close with high level professionals who were only dancing with each other was a fantastic learning opportunity for her. 

Emma Slater took a selfie with the crowd.  I can't really see us, but we were way over on the right side of the photo, about a quarter of the way up.

Afterwards, some of the cast stuck around and took pictures with audience members.  Shara dashed up to the front with 1% phone battery left, and got a picture with Val, the winner from last season.  She was so excited, I think her pupils actually reformed in the shape of stars, and stayed that way through the next morning.

I really hope she can take some of the lessons from this chance to really see pros dancing full out and apply them to her own dancing. 

As for upcoming events, we were supposed to do Level Passing last night, but it got rescheduled for next month.  We do still have A-Day coming up this Sunday, which is when we confirm her January performance.  We also have a planning meeting on Friday to attempt some more long-term planning, so I can be as efficient as possible with my budget.  Woo!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Danciversary and New Dresses

Happy One Year Danciversary!  So, she celebrated one year of dancing with Fred Astaire on June 10th with a dance class, a balloon, and brownies that I took the Happy Father's Day tag off of and gave to her.

We also decided that since she's going to be a serious competitor and dancer, her dresses need to completely reflect that.

Which meant she needed a new costume.

We found a Latin dress for sale from a dancer who competed at Blackpool, and it shipped to us from Poland.  We had to modify the bra cups, since they were originally intended for someone with a smaller chest.

Obviously, that isn't Shara in the dress.

This is before we fixed the strap and the cups, so she wouldn't let me take a picture of the front. 

Since she's doing an Argentine tango for her Showcase dance in January, we wanted a dress tailored for it.

Which meant she needed a new costume, of course.

A friend we met during the production of Sound of Music I participated in happens to be a seamstress, and I found pattern pieces that we (well, I just told her what we wanted from each of the pattern parts, so really, it was all her) put together into an actual dress.  We went for a fitting on Sunday, and while it needs a couple of tweaks, it's looking pretty fantastic.  It's navy lycra with a fitted bodysuit under, a halter neck with criss cross straps, and a skirt with a point over her right thigh.

While we were killing a little time waiting to meet with the seamstress, we swung by the dance store to browse through dresses and see what they had.  We were particularly interested in a green dress she had tried on a while back, since it might match the new Latin dress.  Her Lita also mentioned being interested in taking her shopping for a new smooth dress for her birthday, so we were looking to see what the possibilities were.  Which meant we....just kidding.  I certainly wasn't expecting to buy anything.  She did find one she really liked, and she tried it on.  It was a really good fit, and I figured we'd keep it in mind, but while we were at the seamstress' house doing the fitting, her Lita messaged and said she'd pay for it if we wanted to go back.  Since we had to pass the store again to get home, and it was a fast fitting, we decided to stop back by.  While we were there, we found a pair of earrings that looked like they had been made for that dress.  They are a little heavy, but I found some stabilizing thingie for the back of her ear that is supposed to take the pressure off of the ear lobe, so I ordered them (I love you, Amazon) and they came in today.  They were only $1.99, so even if they don't work, it's not a huge loss.

Anyhow.  I'm sure we'll add more crystals.  I can't imagine NOT adding more crystals to something, actually.  We're not sure what we're doing with it, but we have time, since she's not planning to compete in it for a while.  Her next event will be a level passing on the 21st of this month (July) and Mini Match in August, though we're not sure yet what she needs to wear for Mini Match.

The Journey of the First Year (Part 8 - May: Dancescape)

The next weekend, we were headed to another hotel, the Westin Memorial, in Memorial City.  But first, there was a tan incident.  I was trying to save a little money.  I'm pretty sure that's how most tan horror stories start.  Anyhow, I found a groupon for a $20 airbrush tan, and managed to squeeze in an appointment that Friday evening (May 29th).  Everything was looking normal-ish, except that the tan wasn't developing.  After a panicked text message to the airbrusher at 10:00 that night (she was trying a new product and asked us to text her a picture of how it was developing), she offered to let us come back at 7:30 in the morning and she would retouch Shara's tan.

We had an appointment for hair at 11:30, and she was scheduled to start dancing after 1:00.  We dashed over to the tanner at 7 am, got retouched, went back to the house, let it develop as much as we could, then she rinsed off so we could head to the hotel.

After finding the studio manager, picking up her souvenier blanket (obviously because it was freezing in the ballroom), and getting checked in, we headed up for hair and makeup.  Her makeup artist was one of the male pros from the independent circuit, and he was excellent!  I loved his color choices, and she got a lot of compliments from our guys.

She had been feeling a little concerned, since she went into Latin the prior weekend a little self-conscious, and didn't come out on top, and with Latin being the stronger of her styles....

But she blew everyone in her category out of the water.  All of her rounds were danced with Matt this time, and she quite literally placed first in every category she entered, including her championship round.  They even figured out how to pronounce her name halfway through award announcements.

Even better, all of the competitors from our studio did really well (including our pros), and up against some really strong competition, too.  I was really proud of everyone.  We won some kind of Top New Studio award, or something.

While we were there, we looked around at some of the dresses on display, and even though we knew Shara was going to need a new Latin dress to really move forward competitively, we also knew we weren't going to find it there!


The Journey of the First Year (Part 7 - May: Lonestar)

The first of her two competition weekends was in San Antonio at La Toretta Resort and Spa.  We went to a local spa for her spray tan, this time.  We tried getting her tan hand airbrushed.  It was a little more expensive, but it looked a lot better, less streaky than the one she had in December from the spray tan shower.  We drove up to San Antonio for one night at the Hilton, since it was a lot cheaper than staying at the resort both nights.

We painted nails and toenails back in the room and had a terrible night's sleep, despite the king size bed.  The next morning we got up early enough to head to the resort for check-in and makeup.


 The view was gorgeous, and so was our room, but I had to stash our stuff quickly and head down for coffee.

Once she had hair and makeup done, she got set to dance.

It was an all Latin competition for her, and she only danced with Daniel.  She competed in mambo and bolero in addition to her regular cha cha, rumba and swing categories, and went head to head against a really great dancer a little older, but in her category. 


 As usual, I'm not the best photographer.

But the professional photographer got some really great shots.  Shara and the other dancer went back and forth winning categories, and in the final round, with five judges voting, Shara wiped the floor with the other girl in cha cha, lost all five votes in swing, and lost by one vote in rumba, giving her a runner up youth title.  She had a great time, though, and it helped to restore some of her confidence after the Foxtrot Debacle. 

After she was done competing, we enjoyed being at the top of a hill during a huge flood, hit the resort's water park the next morning between showers, and headed back home before the rain started up again.