Saturday, January 21, 2012

the champ

This year's dance competitions started today and I guess everyone was in the mood to get back into the swing of things because the turnout for this event, both in terms of dancers and audience, was huge. Since Kate is seven, she's in the beginner competition class now and she was very excited to compete in both of her new dance outfits.

As the piper took a water break before we were about to get started, Kate posed for a picture.

I was happy for Kate but nervous about her having to move up to beginner because she'd be competing against much older and more experienced kids, and specifically about competing against Erin.

There were nine beginners today and they danced before the judge in groups of three at a time. Thankfully, Erin and Kate were in separate groups for the first four dances.

I thought Kate did really well, and I thought the other seven beginners were also really good and I knew it was going to be a tough day.

During the last beginner dance they regrouped and Kate and Erin danced on stage at the same time.
And many hours after we started, all the results were in and the awards were given. Erin had her best day ever, winning a fourth place, a second, and three first places. That made her the overall top dancer in the beginner class, and along with her medals for the day she won a large crystal trophy. She was absolutely surprised and overjoyed.

Erin's first place sword dance:

Kate took sixth place in one dance (only the top 1-6 out of the 9 beginners were announced for each dance), and she found it difficult being the younger, less awarded sister of the champion. But I was really proud of her, and her teachers were proud of her too. She really did her best and in her best dance she beat out 3 other beginners, all older and more experienced than her.
Erin and Kate along with all the other dancers from their dance school (which comprised about half of the dancers there today).
And the proud champ with her winnings from the day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

seasoned performer

Erin's had two music performances so far. At the end of the each semester at her music school they hold several recitals over several evenings, grouping kids by ability level mostly I suppose. Erin's first recital was just before Christmas, where she and her teacher performed a short duet. She was one of about 15 performers that night, playing a variety of instruments, and she did a great job, not seeming nervous at all.

The performance we were most looking forward to though was the winter concert, her first concert, with the school band. Rehearsals always occur while i'm at work so I'd never heard the band play before. John, Grandma, and the twins were all there. The twins have several friends who were there to watch because they have older siblings in one of the bands as well. Erin is in beginning band which is mostly fourth graders, following that performance was the intermediates which are mostly fifth graders.

She sits next to her good friend, Anna.

Band is really popular and it's quite a big group. The concert was about what you'd expect from a fourth grade band--clearly missed notes here and there, a persistently squeaky clarinet, but it was music, and according to Erin, none of these kids played had experience with their instruments before September except her--she began private lessons in June. The band played a variety of simple, recognizable songs over about 40 minutes. All the kids seemed to be taking the performance very seriously.

On some of the songs the entire band played together, on others the band director announced the "soloists" who would stand and play as a smaller group, which seemed to be about 1/3 to 1/2 of the kids on a given song. Erin was one of the altos selected to play during one or two of those songs. All the kids who were interested in having a "solo" stayed late after practice last week to audition for the parts, and Erin mentioned that she auditioned but didn't know the results.

Then the director stood and said, "And now we'll have a real solo by Erin, playing 'Jingle Bells'."
Um.....WHAT??? Erin didn't tell us ANYTHING about her having a solo. That was my first thought, followed by, "How well does she know Jingle Bells?"
So Erin stood and played while the director played a keyboard off to the side.

Yeah, she missed a couple of notes, yeah, her tempo needs a little help, but overall I think she did great particularly because of all the practicing I've heard her do in the past many weeks and months, I never heard her play Jingle Bells.
She got some enthusiastic applause and lots of compliments at school today from kids and parents alike.