Hi Guys! Today I wanted to talk about something a little different and a BIG part of Olivia and my life… DANCE MOMMIN!
For anyone new, Olivia is a competitive dancer! She competes in lots of genres of dance including lyrical, jazz, musical theatre, and hip hop. She also trains in ballet twice a week. Olivia started rec classes at age 4 and has been competing since age 5. She has been competing solos for the last three years. Olivia has always LOVED the stage and performing. We recognized this at an early age and made sure we gave her all the resources to achieve all her goals.
I get lots of questions thru the season so I wanted to answer them in one spot for you!
HOW MUCH DOES SHE TRAIN?
Olivia is at the studio 4-5 days a week. This includes company dance classes, technique, solos and duo. Depending on how many dances you are in and if you are in a solo/duo trio, will be the factors of how many days you will be in the studio. Finding the right studio is so important because you child will be spending a lot of time there. We feel extremely lucky to have a dance studio that feels like family. The instructors love our kids like their own and truly always have their best interest at heart. I am pretty sure Olivia could not go a week without seeing her instructors Mrs. Meagan and Ms Taylor! We love them and they are truly family to us! Olivia also trains in gymnastics twice a week at Triumph (we love Coach Annie!) She works on skills for dance and strength training during gymnastic classes.
TELL ME ABOUT THE COMPETITIONS?
Dance competition weekends are my favorite! There are so many amazing competitive circuits and each one is unique in its own way! We typically spend 3-4 days at the event and Olivia is typically competing every day! Again this will depend upon how the competition schedules each day, if you are in a solo/duo/trio and much more. Being there and supporting your team is a big part of company too! Olivia loves to go watch and support her teammates even if she is not performing herself. We go to up to 6-7 regional competitions a year and we typically travel to Oklahoma and Missouri. For nationals, we have traveled as far as Florida. You train for over 6 months for the competitions, so take in every minute of it! Part of the fun is hanging with your dance family too! I try to schedule at least one group dinner where the moms and girls can hang out. It truly makes it more fun and let’s the girls hang outside of competition.
IS THE DYNAMIC REALLY LIKE THE TV SHOW “DANCE MOMS?”
This one made me laugh because it would be very easy to assume that! I do feel like any competitive atmosphere can bring big feelings to the surface wether that be baseball, football, dance, etc. I feel very lucky to have an awesome group of dance moms. Sure we are all competitive, but at the end of the day, we truly celebrate one another! Being a mom in a competitive atmosphere, you really have to pay attention to your actions and words because it will reflect on your child’s actions. I am sure all dynamics are different at every studio, but it boils down to being supportive of one another and encouraging an inclusive atmosphere. All competitive atmospheres are not always sunshine and rainbows, you have to give grace to people and be respectful. Something that our age groups have done a great job of this past seasons is getting together outside of the studio. We have pizza dinners, go to local sporting events and more. This has made all of our relationships stronger, moms and daughters. I highly encourage this!
TELL ME ABOUT THOSE COSTUMES!
I would be lying if I didn’t say the costumes is one of my favorite parts of dance. My sister started working with Kendall Sample out of Little Rock for Claire’s solos and then again with Bree! Kendall is a mastermind and truly an artist with her costume work. Naturally she was my first call when Liv got her first solo and we have worked with her since. I can’t even WAIT to share what she has in the works for Liv’s solos this season! Our group costumes are handled by the studio and it is always a fun day when they come in!
I do want to mention that having a custom design is not needed. So many choreographers do amazing things with costumes that come from ” a book!” Personalizing them and making them your own can easily be achieved. You do not need to feel pressured to spend $$$ on custom and know your child’s dancing is always the most important thing, not what they are wearing!
ANY TIPS ON WHAT TO PACK IN MY DANCE BAG FOR COMPETITIONS?
I get asked this a lot by new moms and I have been lucky to watch my sister do dance competitions for years before Olivia started. Here is a list I always bring each competition. I also linked some of my favorites below!
DANCE IS MORE THAN DANCE
I hear a lot of talk about how there may not be an “end game” with dance like say a competitive sport like baseball, football etc. While I do not agree with that, I do feel like there is so much for to it than dancing. The last 5 years of dance has helped shape Olivia into the little girl she is today. That may sound deep for an almost 9 year old, but dance has truly taught her so much as such a young age. A competitive atmosphere teaches them to loose gracefully and win humbly. It teaches them to support their teammates, and compete together as one. It teaches them with discipline and hard work you can achieve your goals. Dance teaches you patience, and perseverance! I could go on and on… So many of these things will help these kids when they enter the workforce. Like anything in life there is more going on than what’s at the surface. Your child will get so much more than learning to dance, by being part of a competitive dance team.
WHERE DO I START?
I would start by doing your research on dance companies. Each company should offer recreation classes each semester where your child will learn basic dance skills in each genre. Your child can get a feel for it and see if it is something they want to continue or take to the next level by being part of a competitive team. There is typically a recital where your child will perform a dance they learned in their rec class. This is also a good way to test out if your child loves performing on the stage! I can’t speak for every dance studio, but usually there is a try out process to be apart of a competitive dance team. If you are local and interested in dance classes, please reach out to me! I can direct to you the BEST studio in NWA 😉
PAST SEASON MEMORIES
Olivia has had some amazing moments and huge accomplishments this past season. Her favorite memory was being moved up to the elite level. Olivia had this goal and it was very exciting for her to achieve it at 8 years old! For me, one thing in particular has stood out. At a competition Olivia competed in a “Dance Down.” All ages from 6-18 were taught a combo and then the judges dwindled it down to their favorites after 8-10 rounds. Round after round Olivia was chosen and when she made it to the final 4 I about lost it! Then she was chosen as the winner for the juniors (insert me freaking out!) There were a couple of things that made my heart swell. First, the smile on her face! Second the ROAR from the crowd from her dance family. It was loud, amazing and made Olivia’s smile grow even more. Last but not least, Olivia thanked the judges without any prompt. It was so much fun seeing her win, but it’s all of these things that make it so much better. Something that I have always taught Olivia about competitive dance is that while it is a competition, you are truly competing against yourself. Improving each time you get out on the stage is a huge win! It can truly be anyone’s day and all you can do is get out there and do your best! Olivia is braver that I have EVER been and its pretty amazing to watch. Olivia had some big wins this season including winning a World title for her solo and group dance at Disney’s World Dance Competition! We are so proud of our girl! She is truly a fantastic example on and off the stage and we love how much she LOVES her dance family.
LOOKING TO THE NEXT SEASON
We are in the thick of starting new choreography for the next season. Olivia will be taking on two solos next year and she is SO SO excited! We start group dances and her duo very soon and it is so much fun finding out what new songs and choreo they will have for the next season. Also, Nora will have her first ever solo this season! We are SO excited for her! It feels like yesterday that Olivia was 5 and staring this journey and now starting her junior year of dance. Time is fleeting, but we are having the BEST time!
I hope this answers some of your questions about competitive dance! Here are some pictures from the past season! You can check out a vide of her solo “Speaking French” here.