Taking on Worlds
I took the first steps off the bus into a place all too familiar. Just a few more steps and we would be there. We worked long and hard months for this opportunity and were finally there. I knew right away this would be one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences I had ever had. The surrounding area is completely dark, one set of lights lit up a section of the large room thousands of people filled rows and rows of seats. We walked past numerous teams from all over; China, Japan, the UK, Canada. One look up at the stage and I knew it was going to be a great weekend. We were there. The Dance Worlds; the competition we trained for, the competition of every competitive dancer’s dream.
To get where we were at this point there had been hundreds of hours put into practicing, many competitions competed in, and many costume and make up fixings. It was well worth it in the end; the bid was given to us and we were on our way to being one of the top teams in the world. The trip began in August with our first practice of the new season. There were two major goals for the year, win nationals then progress and take on Worlds. Choreography began and as soon as I began to dance I knew we had a winning routine. As a freshman on the Senior All-Star team I knew I had a lot to live up to.
Walking into the fairly large gym of a high school, I set my stuff down and began to stretch while slowly watching all the other talented dancers warm up. Nervousness began to fill my body. I sat in silence, not speaking to anyone but my mom and my high school team. Looking at the schedule I was becoming paralyzed with nervousness, almost fear I would mess up and cost the team our placement. Backstage, circled up with the team mumbling the few words to the prayer that I barely knew, but now will not ever forget. “Lord be with us as we dance across the sky tonight, may all my leaps and turns be right, we’ll dance across the sky together, now and cherish this dance forever.”
“DANCE UNLIMITED SENIOR ALL-STAR POM” boomed over the speakers that surrounded the gym. Stepping out on the floor I knew this was it, this was my chance to prove what I can do; to the crowd, my coached, and most importantly my team. Adrenaline rushed through my body as the music began to blare over the speakers. Before I knew it the dance was over and the crowd was on their feet clapping and yelling. I did it. Everyone has now seen how well we can do, how well I can do, and their expectations for upcoming competitions will only increase.
Local competitions began to slow down yet the year was flying by. Next thing I know nationals is now quickly approaching. The countdown is now in the single digits, we’re here. It’s my favorite time of the year and I’m ready to bring it; give it my all. On the road, we are now only hours away and the excitement is uncontainable.
The sun is beginning to peek through the blinds lighting the room just under the window. Slowly climbing out of bed in attempt to wake up, I slowly walk over the mirror, today is day one; the day that can make or break us. Dressed, ready, and pumped up I walked into the convention center in awe. The stage was the only lit thing in the large room. Rows and rows of chairs set up ready for thousands of people to watch the great routines that are about to hit the stage. Teams and fans filing in one by one, ready for the long day ahead. Lights on the stage are blinding and the music is already blaring through the speakers.
Standing backstage for the second time that day, hearing team names announced one by one then music blaring over the speakers. Standing in that familiar circle, all huddled up listening to what we need to focus on throughout the routine “Lord be with us as we dance across the sky tonight, may all my leaps and turns be right, we’ll dance across the sky together, now and cherish this dance forever.” The all familiar words filled our circle. Walking up the stairs paying close attention so I don’t trip, all that was running through my mind was that I had to redeem myself from the fall I had in the previous dance. Every dancer has two fears, forgetting the choreography and freezing in front of thousands and falling in front of thousands. Forgetting is something you can cover a little quicker than falling. I had done the second; I met my worst nightmare and fell on the Nationals floor. I was mortified and nervous for what my coaches would do. I was then more nervous to walk off the stage then I was to walk on. This was my chance to redeem my performance. Our name was now filling the room again. One deep breath…here we go.
“DANCE UNLIMITED SENIOR ALL-STAR POM” the stage filled with gray smoke from the smoke machines, the lights flashed as we ran on the stage and I was blinded. The thousands of fans out in the seats were almost non-existent; it was like looking out into a clear night sky, when not even the stars are twinkling. “5, 6, 7, 8 HUH!” My body took over and before I realized it my anxiousness was gone and the performance was over. Nailed it. Everything hit and I didn’t bobble, I was finally relieved and ready for the second day.
Day two rolled through just as quickly and before I knew it we were huddled together holding hands with one another squeezing as tight as we could, anxious as they announced the places. Flashing lights, music blaring, crowd cheering, and only two teams left.
“In second Place STAR!” That left one team, the first place team. Looking at one another trying to contain our excitement “YOUR FIRST PLACE SENIOR POM, DANCE UNLIMITED” We are the Champions blared over the speakers, teammates began to tear up, confetti rained from above us. We did it.
Next step, Worlds.
Just two months ago I was taking the same exciting steps towards the competition arena. UDA - Universal Dance Association – The largest National competition in the United States. I was there in the midst of all the excitement. Now I was back. Orlando Florida, Disney World’s Epcot, were they ready for us? Walking up to where large gates usually stand closed, they were wide open and welcoming. We walked confidently into a large building that was completely dark. All I could see was a table with t-shirts and bags that said The Dance Worlds in large letters of all colors, thousands of chairs waiting for thousands of people to be seated, and the large 2009 hanging in front of a large globe.
Most competitions when first walking in all that is seen is chaos; dancers running back and forth between teams and trying to change hair, make up and costume in a matter of seconds. This was different. The teams from around the world were in neat lines counting in another language. I took another look around in awe and had never seen anything like it. Teams stretching and warming up perfectly in sync with one another while we did everything on our own. As the teams from around the world took the floor I was shocked that the music that blared over the speakers was American music, their music was in English. Although their music was in English, when speaking to them they had a difficult time understanding some of the things we said.
We were excited and anxious, ready to be on the stage in front of thousands but, there were only five people in the audience that mattered. The judges. They sat up on raised tables with desk lights that lit up just enough so they could see the score sheets. Circled up on the side of the stage ready to climb the stairs for the biggest competition we’ve every competed in “Lord be with us as we dance across the sky tonight, may all my leaps and turns be right, we’ll dance across the sky together, now and cherish this dance forever.”
Hitting the last motion, holding it for a few seconds then cheering off the stage. It was the best performance we had done all year. Now all we had to do was hit it even harder in finals the next day. Back to the resort for a nap, dinner, and practice. Up bright and early the next morning we stepped out into the warmth of the Florida sun ready to get on the bus and travel back to do what we came all this way to do, take on The Dance Worlds. Stepping through the gates and into the dimly lit building we were as prepared as ever.
Once again we were backstage circled up, pumped each other up and said our prayer “Lord be with us as we dance across the sky tonight, may all my leaps and turns be right, we’ll dance across the sky together, now and cherish this dance forever.”
“DANCE UNLIMITED SENIOR ALL STAR POM” blared throughout the room, the crowd cheered. We took our place “5, 6, 7, 8 HUH!” the music began but something felt different about stepping on the stage this time. Half way through the routine the music skips. Anxious thoughts running through everyone’s head we kept going and finished strong. Disappointed and nervous we cheered off the stage not sure where that would place us.
A few minutes that felt like hours passed, only to find that the judges were going to let us redo our final performance. More nervous and tired than ever, we pumped one another up and walked past numerous teams from all over backstage in order to climb the steps one more time, fingers crossed we get through the routine without any troubles.
We took the floor, the crowd cheered, the music came on, and before we knew it the routine was over. We hit our ending position with big confident smiles on our faces. The music didn’t skip and we had a hard hitting, crowd pleasing performance. Everyone was happy and was ready to just sit and relax.
A few hours later it was time for awards. We had never been so nervous to sit on stage with other teams before. After finals our coaches had announced to us that after our prelim performance we were very close in score with another team for first and second place. With teams from all over crowded on to the stage they began to announce starting with tenth place. Squeezing one another’s hands, they finally got to the top three teams. Third place, was not us. That left two more teams. Everyone jittery with anxiousness, the pauses between the announcement of third place and second place seemed like it was forever. They finally announced “In second place receiving a SILVER MEDAL IS….DANCE UNLIMITED!” Jumping up and hugging one another we ran to the front of the stage to collect our trophy. All our hard work paid off. We did it; we took on The Dance Worlds and ended in success.
After snapping what felt like hundreds of pictures, meeting teams from Japan and China and the Ukraine, we got to change clothes and enjoy ourselves for a few hours.
Hard work and dedication truly does pay off.