Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Journey of the First Year (Part 5 - January 2015)

After the exhilarating experience of becoming Regional Champion and Top Junior, she put the pedal to the metal with her training.  She also got a lot more serious about her career path.  As it was, we already knew she wanted to become a professional dancer, and we knew that her focus had abruptly shifted from contemporary to ballroom.  The pros at the studio were leery of really aiming her in that direction until she had at least some competitive experience under her belt, so we had a big meeting with her coaches and the studio manager the week after the competition.  She made it really clear that she hadn't changed her mind, and so we started planning for her to compete at the national level in November 2015.  We drew up a financial plan that took a huge commitment from me (and the rest of the family).  It required us to use our tax refund as a down payment, then pay the remainder of the payments out every month.  Each payment would be what I was paying in rent at the time.  Well, there was absolutely no way I could make that happen on my own.  Even with assistance from my ex-husband's family, that was still a huge expense.  I did a lot of talking and planning, and we made the decision to join households with my grandmother, keeping her from needing to leave her house, since it was too big for one person, and allowing us to try to help my daughter's dreams come true.  The studio hinted that they were grooming her for a professional position within their organization, and did tell us that they looked into hiring her, but that we would have to wait until after she turns 16.  So, one year down, two to go.

With this in mind, we made a huge decision.

We decided to take her out of school and homeschool instead.  This wasn't an easy decision for me.  There were a few relatives who did not support this choice.  I told her I would let her take the college placement exams, and if she passed, we would talk about what happened next.  When she passed (in eighth grade!), I made the commitment to her to allow her to try for the spring semester of 2015.  We got her registered, and she got her college ID.

Whenever I asked her about regrets, and prom, she always told me that she has proms all the time, and at the ones she goes to, she can dress like a princess and everyone else can actually dance, unlike regular proms.  I do worry about her social interactions, but she seems to have enough friends who have made the effort to keep in touch, that I worry less now.

Her uncle wanted to do a photo shoot for her and Greyson, and he got some really great photos.

She spend the rest of the Christmas and New Years holidays having extra rehearsals with Matt, and even just one month after her first competition, she was continuing to improve at a rabid pace, particularly considering that we could only afford six private lessons per month.  The guys at the studio used every Friday night party as an opportunity to help her get in more practice following, and even going to far as to specifically work steps that she was weak in.

She also started work on her opens.  In dance, she can compete in either closed categories or open categories.  In closed categories, depending on which level a dancer competes at, there are certain approved moves, which can be danced in any order with whatever appropriate stylings (arm motions may differ between instructors, or independent schools, etc.).  In open routines, there is generally more freedom of expression, and no set list of moves, though it can be difficult to balance demonstrating solid technique with adding flair.  So far, they have only worked on two, tango and foxtrot, but the one she started working on with Richard in January was the tango open.  At the time, they planned to have her learn opens in all of her regular dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot, cha cha, rumba, swing), and add her three additional dances that she would be competing in (Viennese waltz, mambo, bolero).  This meant she would need to learn 9 closed routines and 9 open routines by the beginning of November, and we only had 54 lessons in which to learn and perfect all of them.  Needless to say, she was feeling a little stressed, right from the beginning.

We threw in Mini Match along the way (January 31st, 2015).  It was a casual event, set to be minimally competitive between our studio and the Pearland studio, which is also owned by the couple who owns our studio.  She danced each of her competitive six dances (no Viennese, mambo or bolero yet) with each of her partners (Matt and Richard).

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