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Behind the scenes: Preparing for Competition against all odds.

“We did what we came to do……” This past weekend was the culmination of a years’ worth of practice and preparation to accomplish a single goal….to be the best that they could be. Needless to say the goal was accomplished. Over this past year, the dancers and the director were forced to work in difficult conditions. In January we relocated the studio. The first two weeks the dancers practiced off site at the Stadium Theatre prepping for a jam packed regional in Providence. This relocation could have been enough to throw the dancers off of their game but with the directors guidance they were stronger than ever. Once the studio opened, it was an unfinished product and was in a constant state of construction. This was not enough to alter the team’s focus and they continued to rehearse with the goal of winning at regionals.

As DTRI settled into its new home, rehearsals continued and the competitive dance routines began taking shape. I was somewhat at ease as I could thought the most difficult time had passed and Miss Jen and the dancers never missed a beat….but the worst was yet to come. As the regionals in Providence approached we found that the competition was sold out. Since the Nationals were local (Cape Cod) it seemed every dance studio on our competition circuit had decided to enter this particular regional. Soon we realized that 600 routines and over 20 studios were going to be at the regional. This would be the most routines that DTRI would compete against at a regional or national level in 22 years. As it seems to happen every year at one point or another, a few dancers decide to no longer dance at the studio…this year was no different. Ten days prior to the biggest regional in the studio’s history two dancers choose to depart from the studio. As many of you know, any time any dancer in any routine leaves for whatever reason it is difficult on the team and the director. The team has to learn new choreography and the director has to re-choreograph the routine. Ten days was just not enough as these dancers were in almost all of the routines. The girls were still not phased and poised behind their director, they pushed on. The true meaning of the DTRI family would be put to the test. Miss Jen contacted DTRI alumni and they came through. Soon spots began to be filled as the DTRI dancers that were returning from college and leaving work early were back at the studio to help. Former dancers returned over the rest of the year providing rehearsal assistance and jumping into routines. They came early and stayed late while the director put in extra hours to get the dancers up to speed. Many times she worked with individual groups either at our home or the studio to get the routines competition ready. Soon it was time for regionals. I was fortunate enough to attend my first circle night with the team. As the team came together through all of the obstacles it was amazing for me to hear the dancers speak and wish everyone good luck. Instead of falling apart, the family was becoming stronger before my eyes. Jen and I went to the competition the night before to check out the scene, the stage, and the studios. The next morning, my scenery team left and brought the props to the set. After a morning rehearsal at the studio, the dancers arrived at the competition. Once on stage the girls performed as they always do, with focus and determination. It was a two day event for us. The girls and Miss Jen were determined to make an impression with the eight numbers ready for competition. Soon DTRI history would be made. As the competition rolled on and the scores were tallied DTRI took home 7 platinum awards and 1 High Gold, (just a few points short of an eighth platinum). After the mini dancers wowed the crowd, the juniors and seniors teamed up and made their mark on the biggest competition of the studios long history. But the best was yet to come. Soon after all of the awards were given, the highest score of the weekend was to be awarded. No nominations were given, no runner ups, no second place. The single highest score was to be awarded of the 600 routines. DTRI had composed 8 of these 600 and brought the least amount of any studio to the regionals, yet when the announcement was made the studio voted number one in RI came out on top. Against all odds and behind the strongest woman I know, the dancers had prevailed. The family grew even stronger. Unfortunately, the dancers did not have much time to rest as the Annual Artistic Revue was only a few weeks away. Routines needed to be completed, costumes need to be stoned and fit and the show lineup, programs, slideshow, raffle, emcee’s, etc needed to be completed in a short time. Yet again the family came together. Routine moms and assistants stepped up. Former dancers continued to fill in and help. Volunteers came in to finish costumes and the family grew. Over the next few weeks, the above list grew shorter as things came together as the usually do. The family continued to strive to complete the goals and get the job done. The day came and the Artistic Revue was a success. Miss Jen and the staff put on another amazing show that all of us could enjoy. After a few days off, the team returned to the studio to prep for the biggest Nationals in our history. Two new routines were added and ready to prequalify. The eight previous dances were fine tuned and even in the intense heat, the team pressed on. Additional costumes were made, dancers were added, hotels were booked and plans were made. DTRI would travel to Hyannis, Cape Cod and compete in an even bigger competition the regionals. For the first time in a long time, the team would stay together in one hotel. The Nationals were composed of 27 studios and just under 700 routines. This time, DTRI would travel with 10 numbers. The first day was the longest. Started at 7 am and was finally complete at awards around 11 pm. The teamed performed to their usual standards receiving several trophies and numerous awards but the highlight of the day was yet to come. For the first time in over 5 years and after weeks of planning and fundraising, DTRI would bring back Hawaiian Night. This night is a celebration of the years worth a work and a chance for all of us to unwind. Honestly, I have not been the biggest supporter of Hawaiian night as it is just another thing added to a long “to do” list; however, I could not have been more wrong. It was more like a family dinner than anything else. The food was great, the drinks were flowing, the team was relaxed and all of the staff, supporters, parents, and loved ones came together. It was an amazing night that showed me how much more DTRI is than dance, great people, and great friends all coming together for a common goal. It was simply amazing. As the Nationals rolled on, DTRI continued to impress. As the scores were tallied, DTRI had won 7 Platinums and 3 High Golds. Several special awards and high score awards including the Most Entertaining and Drill Sergeant Award were presented. After arriving with only 10 numbers, DTRI came home with 17 trophies, 1 plaque, and special awards. The team had accomplished its goals and left their mark making sure everyone at the competition new them. They were simply amazing and as one dancer put it best, “we did what we came to do”. I have never been more proud to be a part of the magic created every year at the studio. New friends, old friends, the family grows every year. Miss Jen always manages to bring and keep everyone together and she works harder and harder to stay on top. The team of dancers grows stronger and just when you think you have seen it all, they show you something new. It is true, DTRI is more than just dance, it is amazing to be a part of and I am honored to grow and learn with it every year. You are all amazing and I love watching you grow stronger and together overcoming any obstacle to achieve your goals. Oh and by the way, just when you think you can take a breath, I got into Miss Jen’s car (amazingly it is still with us) and the 6 cd changer was full. After playing the first three judges critique cds that she listened to on the ride home from nationals, I was shocked to hit the next three discs, marked DTRI competition routines 2011!!!!!!!! See you at the studio!!!!

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