So, here’s a quick update on USA Dance Nationals, which took place in Baltimore at the end of March. (There’s another NDCA Nationals that occurred in Utah a few weeks earlier – I haven’t been to that but it looks awesome.) We danced novice and pre-champ standard and pre-champ/champ smooth. Similarly to MAC, we had one event on Saturday and the other three on Sunday. Yikes…fortunately, they were spread out between 8 am and around 8 pm, thereby reducing the chance of dance-exhaustion, which is never fun. However, dancing pre-champ standard at 8 in the morning was also not fun…part of the reason to move up to open is so that you don’t have to dance first event of the day!
Our results were pretty good and unsurprising – made the semis of novice standard out of a quarter, didn’t get a callback for pre-champ standard (which also started at a quarter), got 4th (!) in pre-champ smooth, and didn’t get into the final for champ smooth (which started at a semi). It was similar to MAC, which I feel is very comparable in terms of the level of competition. We got one place better than last year in pre-champ smooth, so we met our goal of performing the same or better, placement-wise. But, more importantly, our dancing felt better than ever, which is always an “I’m the king of the world!!!” sort of feeling.
I had worked on my shaped turns being more upward (be a shark chasing its fin rather than a dog chasing its tail! Weird but effective advice) and fully extending my arms. I have a long-ingrained fear of hyperextending them, but Alexandra Perzhu and Izabella Jundzill, two top professional smooth dancers, have the same deal with their freakishly long arms, so I just went for it. What was also really nice was cheering on and hanging out with various dance friends from all over. The open smooth crowd is fairly small, so many of us have gotten to know each other over the years. I was pleased to see a large group of competitors in novice and prechamp smooth – these fields have grown a lot and have become really competitive!
I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by Next Level Dancing and got to use a fantastic Dore blue peacock smooth dress, which got tons of compliments. Loved it! Even though it was sized a bit off – a little small in the bust (hello, side-boob) and a touch too long. Whatever, it was awesome and I was very sad I had to give it back.
Also, this happened and makes me so happy (photographer credit to Brandon):
Also this of most of the pre-champ smooth finalists (not sure who took the picture):
I volunteered most of Friday at registration and had to deal with a ton of people failing to bring proper residency documentation (which, FYI, entailed photo ID + either a passport or birth certificate. Or green card/visa, etc.). Oh my goodness. Despite this information being on the website, probably a third to half of the competitors forgot it or said they didn’t know they had to bring it in the first place. Part of it was miscommunication from last year, but a lot was just competitor ignorance (“But I didn’t know! We’ve never had to do this before!”). Well, do your research, read all of the rules and regulations, and you save all of us some time and energy. Nationals is not just any competition, because a lucky few get to represent the US at world championships. People were obviously upset, particularly with the fear that they wouldn’t be able to compete, but the organizers found some workarounds. One competitor was so dedicated/intense that she asked a friend to break into her house to photograph her paperwork! Other fun volunteer activities involved dealing with (mostly eastern European) families. Some were extremely on top of things, being very familiar with competition procedures, while others just could not get their act (nor their children) together. Some plusses of volunteering: seeing some elite competitors in normal-person mode (“oh, you’re him/her?! huh.”), meeting people, hanging out.
Spectating was awesome as usual. I have a new favorite ten-dancer Junior II couple, and we saw lots of really excellent young dancers. My favorites from the MAC, Earle and Charlotte, won adult champ standard. This is why (watch for the awesome body roll!):
I caught the end of the adult Latin final, which was also great. It’s fun to predict who the finalists will be and also to try to figure out the ultimate placings. I can’t get it 100% right, but I think I can usually figure out the first, middle, and bottom third of the finalists, usually.
Some complaints: Friday night ended early, around 9 or 10 pm, while Saturday started at 8 am and ended at about 1:45 am. Yup. Ridiculous. Someone didn’t calculate the heat list correctly and/or they didn’t speed up the evening session enough. I know you want to give the champ couples their due recognition and whatnot, but everyone wants to get back to bed at a reasonable time! Other than that, it was a very nice event and I look forward to attending again next year, as it is supposedly in Baltimore indefinitely (a somewhat controversial topic for a different blog post, perhaps).