On saturday Erin had her first official competition as a Highland Dancer, which is something she's wanted to do since about week three of dance lessons last summer. She's been asking when and where she can begin competing for many months. She's registered with the american highland dance association and has her regulation dancer's photo card and her regulation dress highland kilt outfit and finally seemed all set.
We picked a very local small-ish competition hosted by her own dance school as her first contest, which unfortunately conflicted with her sisters' softball game, so John and Kate and Allison couldn't be there. But Uncle Brad and her cousin Jacob and his mom Cindy came to watch and cheer her on.
It was a cool, overcast day that threatened to rain off an on, so we even had some Scottish weather for the event. First, some warm-ups after everyone signed in.
Erin's class partner since day one, Andrew, the only male dancer in the school and in this competition, was set to compete also. Erin and Andrew are registered beginners, which is the lowest class of dancer you can be if you are seven years old or older. Besides the two of them, I wondered how many more beginners we'd have today and as it turns out, there were six more.
I didn't recognize a couple of the girls so they must be from out of the area, but the rest of them I did know, I just didn't know they are beginners because they are older than Erin and Andrew, have been dancing for much longer, and are in more advanced classes at the school. As soon as I saw who Erin would be competing against I knew this was going to be a rough contest.
Erin didn't seem to mind. She competed in four dances overall and I thought she did really well. The lone judge was flown in from Denver for the day for this event.
Her last dance is one of the "national" dances and requires a different outfit.
Video of her last dance, "The Lilt" (the dancers had to wait for the piper to tune up, this was after a break)
Afterwards she posed with her teacher, who told me she thought Erin did really well.
Here are all the beginners lined up ready to hear how they placed at the end of the whole competition. The adult second from right is an experienced Irish dancer, who started doing Scottish as well a few months ago, so she's a "beginner"? Um, yeah, sure. The tall dancer in the middle is eleven and has been dancing for 2-3 years, and the girl second from the left is Andrew's older sister, Elizabeth. She's nine and has been dancing about 3 years also. She's GOOD...really good. Everyone knows that. She does both Irish and Scottish dancing and seems to be a natural at both. I thought for sure she'd be competing in a higher class, but nope. My heart kind of sank when I saw that Erin would be up against these three dancers in particular.
I watched Erin and the other beginner class dancers as objectively as I could and I thought Erin fell somewhere in the middle of the pack. She wasn't the best, but she sure wasn't the worst either. For each dance the top six dancers were given medals. After the top six was announced for the first two dances, Erin hadn't won anything, and I was kind of stunned. She was better than some of the others, I know she was. Obviously I'm missing something here...then for the third dance, Andrew was announced as the second place winner, but his sister didn't place in the top six at all. Huh? Andrew is a great, sweet kid and very bright, but he's really not a great dancer. Erin is certainly better than he is, Elizabeth is a whole world better than he is.
Andrew and Elizabeth's parents were seated right next to me.
"What the...?!? That isn't right!" said their mother after she heard the results. Their father's jaw just kind of fell open in confusion.
Erin didn't place at all in the third dance either.
Then the last dance for the beginners, and Erin was announced in place #6 which earned her a medal, Andrew got #4 there if memory serves.
The results of the third dance notwithstanding, Elizabeth placed first in the other dances, making her the winning overall beginning dancer, no surprise there, she really was the best and the recipient of a big trophy.
And finally all the competitors from all the different competition levels from Erin's school posed together.
I was definitely more stressed over the whole event and more disappointed in the judging than Erin was and I'm certain that I sweated much more than she did, though I didn't mention any of that to her. We both congratulated Elizabeth and Andrew, who we've come to know quite well.
Erin did great, I'm really proud of her, I only told her only that.
She's now put this day behind her and is looking forward to the next competition, out of our local area and about 2 hours away in the beginning of June.
Most importantly, I want Erin to have a good time, but I also wouldn't mind seeing a different judge there.