February 24th was the send-off event that showcases our dancers and the routines they have prepared for the National Competition on March 7-10. Junior Premier member Brandon Maner said, “It’s great to show the people what we are going to do who can’t come to Nationals.” Kick-off does have another purpose, however. “I like Kick-off because the kids are hit with the reality of a big competition,” said instructor Lynne Boudreaux. “A healthy combination of nerves and excitement in a more relaxed environment get the ‘freak-out’ out of them before the big day.”
At the Provo competition, kids compete with their individual partners according to age level, regardless of syllabus level. That experience was recreated on the floor of Competition Kick-off. The bronze level dancers navigated the floor right along with the gold. Cassidy Poore said that it was good to practice on a new floor. “It helped us get used to changing our step length for different sized floors,” she said. Judges will look for well executed dancing, no matter the difficulty or the variety of the steps. Dancers wear simple black and white in a effort to emphasize excellence in dancing before focusing on the glitter and glamour of the ballroom world.
The Youth Premier Team introduced a brand new standard medley choreographed to music from the movie “Gladiator”. Dramatic solid black tail suits contrasted with the goddess-like flowing white dresses of the ladies. Youth show also danced a new medley “The Tributes,” inspired by the “Hunger Games”. There were eight ‘girls on fire’ impressing the crowd with their growth and passion. Preteen Premier danced both of their medleys for the first time, and even Elvis made an appearance on the team.
The dancers were enthusiastic about the preparation that Kick-Off gives them. Lauren Oboy said Competition Kick-Off, “really prepares you for the competition because you have to look up into the stands and dance on a crowded floor.” Karissa Dolan was glad to get practice with hair and make-up. “It helps you to know what it will look and feel like ahead of time.” Trevor Briones said, “It was a good way to see where we are and what we need to brush up on for out last week before we leave.”
In addition to dancing, 30 beautiful cakes were raffled off as a fundraiser for PBD at Competiton Kick-of. The most sought after cake of the night was the “Life is Like a Box of Chocolates” cake pictured below with nearly 100 raffle tickets placed in it’s ticket bag by hopeful audience members.
PBD gift for hydration and inspiration
PBD presented it’s students with an inspirational and useful souvenir to take with them when they step onto the plane Tuesday and head for Nationals in Provo: A bright green metal water bottle with the words “I choose to compete, strive together, and finish strong. Kia Kaha.”
Artistic Director Katie Mecham and Executive Director Heather Longhurst visited each team to personally deliver the gifts, explain to the students the meaning behind the words, and express their pride and confidence in each of our students.
“I asked the kids to tell me what the word ‘compete’ means,” said Katie, “and I wasn’t surprised when almost all of them mentioned going against or trying to beat someone else. I explained to them that the first definition of the word is to “strive together.” It means that everyone pushes together and works together. It may seem like we are against other teams at Nationals but the reality is, we are side by side, striving for the same goal, with more in common to connect us then divide us, and with so much to learn form each other. Kia Kaha is a Maori phrase that means to finish strong and to stay strong at every part of a journey.”
All six of the teams received the water bottles even the two teams who won’t be competing at the event. Junior Show team member Cassidy Poore said “Our team felt like we are important even though we aren’t going to Nationals. The quote “strive together’ means we are all together in this.”
Pacific Ballroom featured in ‘I love Auburn’ video
Six PBD students gathered at in front of the City Hall to film a State of the City video for a Mayor Nancy Backus this February on one of the coldest days of the year. They danced in front of landmark buildings, public art, and even arriving trains to celebrate the city and it’s people. Pre-teen dancer Sara Wilcox says she was never more terrified to know the train was barreling towards her as she danced, but you would never know it from the smile on her face.
Watch the video here: I Love Auburn Video
Community performances lift our friends and neighbors
On three different occasions, our students went out into our
commun ities to share dance during the last month. They performed at the City of Algona Family Day, the Sweetheart Jamboree in Bellevue, and the Healthy Auburn Expo.
Junior Premier and Junior Show performed at the City of Algona Family Day just right around the corner form the studio at the Filipino American Community Center. PBD filled the room from corner to corner with dancers and impressed locals with local talent.
At the Healthy Auburn Expo was an event at the Auburn Community Center, pairs of PBD students taught small workshops and demonstrations for visitors from ages three to seventy-five. Our youngest visitor wasn’t shy about wanting to join the fun. “His mom came in and he was watching us.” said YP member Katie Ackerman. “I reached out my hand and he took it. Michael (Olson) started counting out T-A-N-G-O like we learned in Dancing Classrooms and Tori Malmstrom showed him the steps and he did it!” This little ballroom dancer came to the studio and visited the Shooting Stars class later in the month!
Junior Premier & Youth Premier fine-tune technique for medleys with help of professional ballroom dancers
On two occasions, JP and YP were instructed from professional ballroom dancers in preparation for National competition. First to give instruction was Kora Stoynova, 2-Time World Finalist and owner of Aria Ballroom just north of us in Redmond, Washington. Her studio has a wonderful reputation f or producing excellent dancers and Heather Bryant and Adam Lee were excited to collaborate with her to push their team members towards excellence. “She opened our eyes to what is possible, what we can do,” said Lauren Oboy. Logan Crisostomo added “She pushed us to our limits in the jive and cha-cha especially.”
Eva Tibenska was the next visiting instructor. She is a World Ten Dance Champion from Slovakia. “She helped the us with our frame and improving the curves of our backs,” said Brynn Bennion. “She helped us with sharp timing, especially in the transitions between dances in the medleys. She was strict but not so much that it wasn’t fun. She got us out of our comfort zones.”
Dancing Classrooms Q&A with Benson in Purdy
This is Benson! He is learning ballroom dance at Purdy Elementary through PBD’s community education program Dancing Classrooms with teaching artist Erin Briones. Here is what he thinks about learning to dance: