Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Vacation - Part II

When we were not dancing, we were playing around on the beach.  We had such a good time with our dance family.  
Here, the girls spell out the studio's nickname - FFTC.  The girls are both on the second F.

The girls had such a good time hanging out together.  Syd is 6th from left (black top), and Layne is 4th from right (pink skirt).

The girls outside the competition venue in Panama City.  Layne is far left (pink top and tutu), Syd is squatting in the front with a hat on her head.

We were on the 28th floor, so the view down to the beach was pretty good.  I got out my camera and shot the umbrellas.

And it was perfect to view all of the wild life that swam through our part of the beach.

A large sting ray.

Some baby sharks  - that made a sharp turn toward the opposite direction when they saw people.

A dolphin jumping out of the water.

A bunch of dolphins

A manatee!  There were actually two.

My parents drove up mid-week to see a couple of the girls dances.  My niece and nephew, Maddie and Colin, joined them up for the drive.  They stayed when my parents went back home and drove back to Arkansas with us.  They stayed for a couple weeks and hung with us.  We were so happy to have them and we had such a good time.  Next post … our time with them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nationals - Small Groups

Lastly, came the small groups - a lyrical, a jazz, and a tap.


Lyrical is not Syd's best genre, so she ends up in the back a lot.  LOL!  This is a sweet beautiful dance.

Syd is in the back (count four from the right)


On the right

Second from right

Middle (but still in the back LOL!)

(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Sydney starts in the back (fourth from right)


This was Syd's (and the rest of the girls') least favorite dance.  I don't think they ever really got it together.  
Syd is second from left.

Second from right

Third from left

Second from left



Syd starts out behind the girl that is second from the left.  But then moves around.


"This Joint is Jumpin' "  This is my favorite of all Syd's dances (except her solo).  Such a fun and awesome dance.
Syd is third from left.

Middle "boy"

Right "boy"

She and her partner are in the middle

Far left (the only "boy" without her hat over her eyes)

Far left

(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Syd starts out sitting behind the table and moves far left.  But then moves all over.  And then about ⅔ into it, she wipes out.  LOL!  Slippery floor.

All three acts earned a "Elite Top First" - the highest adjudication award.  Out of about 55 acts, there were over 20 "Elite Top First" awards.  So unless they called out the Top 25, we knew there was a chance none of the dances would place.  

They awarded the Top 15.  Beat didn't place, and although With Love didn't place either, they received the Breath of Fresh Air Judges Choice Award. A fun award! The Joint on the other hand, despite Syd's face-plant, place 5th!  And just as we were about to burst with pride, they announce that The Joint made it to the Showcase!  The Showcase is the opportunity for the 10 top-scoring dances (one dance per studio) to re-compete for the National Grand Champion.  What an honor!  Now, we were actually bursting with pride!!

The Showcase competition was the next evening.  The girls performed one of their best (and Sydney didn't even fall!).  However, it wasn't enough to win the National Grand Champion (and they don't place the rest - only called out First Place, so we don't know if we came close.  LOL!).  But we were so proud.  The girls did awesome!

Now … on to another great season!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nationals - Large Groups

Sydney was in two large groups - a tap and a hip hop.  They were within an hour of each other, so it was another quick change.  


Tap.  This performance was the best they've ever done.  Syd on the very right.

She moved to the left (third from the right).

Still third from right.


Right in the middle

The one without the hat - oops!

(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Sydney starts out fourth from the left.  After the first formation, she ends up fourth from the right.  Then she is all over.  LOL!


Hip Hop.  Sydney starts out on the far right.  But then is all over the place.

On the right.  So funny!

She is in the front, but count five from the right.

Far right.

Second from right.

One of the three in the front (not running off the stage), right-most of the three (count three from right).

(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Sydney starts out on the far right.  But then is all over the place.

Both numbers earned an "Elite Top First" - the top adjudicated award.  Even though, out of about 45 acts, Hey You There did not place in the Top 10, they did receive the Looking Good in Neon Judges Choice Award.  On the other hand, That Thang placed 8th in the Top 10.  A pretty good showing (although I thought they would place better).

Next up, small groups.

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of School

[Taking a break from Nationals for the obligatory First Day of School post.]

Today was a big day for the girls - they both started at a new school.  It is a STEM school - Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math, so we are obviously on board with the philosophy.  They still have to wear uniforms though.  But they don't mind.

The school is brand new this year.  They converted a middle school into a K-8 STEM school.  All the teachers were trained to incorporate the STEM program into curriculums.  All the students in 3rd-8th grades are assigned a chrome notebook, and many classes utilize ebooks and programs.  Students in K-2nd will take advantage of iPad carts and complete many online or technology driven assignments.  We are so excited for the girls to have this opportunity.  Such a huge change from the school from which they came.  But they are so excited!

This opens up the long story about why we chose to move from the school where we'd spent the last 9 years.  Working there the last year, I learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes. I was asked to dumb-down the curriculum, change students grades, and fail no one ... among other things. I learned early on that my principal did not support me or my method of teaching. And it just went downhill from there. I will spare the details, but knowing what I had learned (and shared with Jess), we decided with Syd graduating, it would be a good time to pull Layne out as well.

We'd learned about the STEM school from a friend that had worked, for years, at the old middle school.  She told us that the deadline had been a couple days prior, but that she thought it had been postponed because of snow days.  So the very next day, Jess learned she had until noon time that day to get all of Syds paperwork and evaluations in to the school district.  She got it all in on time and we received a letter about a week later saying that Syd had been accepted.  We were delighted.  THEN! Jess learned that they had re-opened enrollment for all grades except Kindergarten and 6th Grade.  So I gathered Layne's necessary paperwork from the school and asked one of her former teacher to "quietly" do the teacher evaluation.  A week later, we receive another letter, announcing that Layne had also been accepted to the school.  We were elated!  We didn't tell anyone, including Layne.  LOL!

Toward the end of the year, things got pretty bad and we considered pulling both girls with 6 weeks left to the school year.  But with Sydney graduating and all of the end of the year stuff planned for the 6th graders, we felt like we just couldn't take all that away from her after attending the school (no matter how we had begun to feel about it) for the last 9 years.  So we bit down hard and finished out the school year.

Both girls have been so excited to start school this year.  So today was an important day.  Definitely a different start to what we had become accustom over the last several years.  But despite the confusion, the morning went well.  And when I picked them up this afternoon, they had smiles on their faces and they couldn't stop talking about how great their day had gone.  I'm so happy for them.  And so relieved.  LOL!  I have to admit, I was nervous.

They did great!  It's going to be an awesome year!  I can't wait to blog all about it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nationals - Duet/Trios

On our third day of competition, Layne performed her duet and her trio.  She and her friend Cadence started this dance as a trio and one of the girls dropped out before the first competition.  So with a few choreography changes, the dance became a duet.  It is such a sweet dance and the girls had so much fun.  Something similar happened to the trio.  It actually started out as a 10-person small group.  They had a rocky start because many of the girls did not attend the classes on a regular basis.  Therefore, they were slow to gel as a group and as a result didn't compete in the first two competitions.  The last two competitions went okay, not great, but we weren't expecting much at that point (this is part of why Layne's year didn't go well).  When it came time for Nationals, the parents of seven of the 10 girls decided they would not be traveling to Panama City to compete (the icing on the damn cake).  Layne and another girl would be there either way because they had sisters competing and the third girl's parents had already reserved the condo for the week.  So Miss Taylor agreed to make a few choreography changes so the girls could still compete.  They were thrilled!

Granted, Layne's duet competed against her trio, but that's okay, she was just excited to perform.


The song was "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend."  Layne is on the right.

(The videos are best if viewed in full screen.)

For this group, the highest adjudication award was "Top First Place" and that's what the duet received! There was a Top Fifteen (out of about 27 acts) and they got 10th place!  We were so excited for them (because honestly, we didn't expect them to place at all LOL!)  Way to go Girls!!


Layne is on the right.  She had less than 30 minutes between acts so it was a quick change.  And because she wore her hair up in the duet, her hair was a big frizz-ball when I took it down for the trio.  Therefore, I had to straighten it for it to be somewhat manageable.  So don't look for the curly-haired dancer - this time, she is the straight-haired dancer.  She is on the right.

The trio didn't place, but they did receive a "Top First Place" which is the highest adjudication. So we were very proud.  Great job girls!

Next up are Syd's large groups.