The 2017 competition season was the best in the 29 year history of the dance studio. We claimed best studio honors for the third consecutive year to open the season in January at the Access Broadway regionals in Mystic, Ct. We traveled to two Starbound regionals (Lowell and Hartford) and eventually to the Starbound Nationals (Foxwoods) where we claimed numerous hi score accolades culminating in our first ever National Grand Championship in the production showcase for “The Ward”. It was an amazing year for the competition team however whilst all of this was transpiring there was a distinct possibility that this was going to be the final year for the dance studio.
Unbeknownst to Miss Jen, I received a phone call in the middle of April 2017 stating that the owners of the building at our current location on Abbott Street were interested in our space to renovate and install offices for their growing business. I kept this information to myself and began searching for a new landing spot for DTRI. I was promised we could stay until the season ended in July.
I traveled to a few different locations in Pawtucket and Cumberland finding nothing that could compare from a space standpoint or a price point that we could afford. It was looking pretty grim. I then received a follow up call from the owners of Abbott Street that plans may be changing and we may be able to stay after all. I had felt confident at the beginning of June that we were good to go and I had made the right decision not alarming Miss Jen in the height of the season and prior to the Artistic Revue.
After that fateful week at Foxwoods, we traveled home and I got back to work. I emailed the current landlord about a few things. The response was heart stopping….they had decided to go forward with the office renovations. This left us little time to find a suitable spot and relocate. I was forced to then tell the director.
We enlisted the help of a former client, Dan Feiner, a commercial real estate realtor. He promptly showed us several locations within the Cumberland, Lincoln area. We were able to strike a deal rather quickly with the owner of The Berkley Business Center located on Martin Street, however a large amount of construction and build out was required. We designed the space to our needs and the construction crews began working. We had hoped to open on the 17th of September however delays pushed us back to October 2, 2017. The floor had been put in that weekend. Friends helped us build all the new furniture we had purchased while the floor was going down. Late that Sunday, October 1, Jen and I began setting up the studio for its opening working well in to the morning.
DTRI has opened, late yes but we had pulled off what seemed to be impossible. During the next two months finishing touches were put on the studio and the bathrooms on the third floor were installed and completed. It had all started to come together.
Questions began to arise about the annual Holiday Show and how we may not be able to have it due to the late start and new location. This wasn’t an option for the director. She cast the show in November and we proceeded to install a projector, large format screen, stage lighting, and controls to transform our new dance room into a mini theatre. Shirts and costumes were ordered, tickets sold, and the best Holiday Show to date was put on display within the new location only 68 days after we opened.
Quickly after this achievement, we needed to move on to competition rehearsals for the upcoming opening of the 2018 season. As usual, we would be attending the Access Broadway regional in Mystic. A rigorous competition schedule was emailed out leading right up to competition weekend. 2018 didn’t start of so well for us however, Miss Jen’s mom had a minor heart attack that had us all pretty scared but she pulled through after a few days in the hospital. The director then had her own setback after a fall and a few banged up ribs with an accompanying trip to the hospital. Soon after that I had come down with a severe cold/flu and then the weather didn’t help with a blizzard that shut the studio down.
After the blizzard subsided we were lucky to have schools closed that Friday as well. We redid the schedule and proceeded to have classes all day Friday rehearsing the competition routines. Jen then called for an “emergency lock in” where the dancers stayed overnight at the studio Friday into Saturday rehearsing until nearly 2 am and then retiring to their sleeping bags and air mattress set ups. Routines then ran for the next 7 days straight in prep for the opening of the competition season.
In the middle of this organized chaos I received a phone call from the Mystic Marriott stating that renovations were not complete at the hotel and we would need to relocate. Several days of negotiations ensued and we were able to relocate the studio clients to a neighboring hotel at a discounted rate as well as have a complimentary continental breakfast in our own private dressing room. Just another hurdle we needed to clear.
Finally competition weekend arrived. Set was loaded, dancers were packed and we embarked on our first road trip of the 2018 season exhausted, sick and banged up. Several dancers had also come down with the cold/flu and battled it throughout the competition.
Routines started bright and early that Saturday morning and the usual two ball room chaos ensued at the AB Regional. The competition started running behind due to the unusual amount of props and vocal routines. More studios than usual had come out this year. It was a very stacked competition. Routines went on through the day and the competition was supposed to end around 11:30 pm however the delays had pushed it to 2 am. No worries for us though, as just a week before we were rehearsing at the hour putting our stamina in the bank just for days like this. Productions and groups performed with the same vigor, technique, and emotion as if it was 12 hours earlier. It was quite a scene as DTRI received a standing ovation after our last routine.
AB decided to change up the rules a bit this year. Instead of receiving points that could be tallied for first, second and third place routines they decided to take the top 15 routines from each studio in a split junior and senior division and award two titles for best studio. This was different and made it really difficult to know where we stood as we could not physically tally the scores.
When the scores were finally tallied and the ccompetition concluded late Sunday, Dance Theatre had come out on top for the 4th consecutive year winning best dance studio in both the junior division and senior division and for the 7th consecutive year wining best overall production. It was an uphill battle behind the scenes to get back to this point but these are the moments that make it worth it.
Dance Theatre of Rhode Island has been through a lot over the years and especially over the last 6 months; however one thing has always remained constant. Our performances whether it be in an annual Holiday Show, an Artistic Revue, or at local and national competitions have remained top notch. No matter what is happening, no matter what obstacle is put in front of us, no matter how sick, how tired, how hurt we are, we will be ready. There truly is no rest for the best.
Thank you to all of the parents, dancers, and families that have proven their loyalty to this dance studio over all of the years and especially this past 180 days. We will continue to persevere and conquer any obstacle in front of us, together as the family we are.