On the 12th May, we took our competition crew TRNSCND to Bethnal Green in East London to compete in The Hotstepper UK. Since the new crew formed in September, this was our first competition together as a team. We trained hard for this event as a crew because we knew the standard would be super high and so we had to bring our A-game! It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, but hard work did pay off…
In the months prior to the competition, our dancers worked hard on their team piece, duos and solos. Duos were a brand-new category for us and we didn’t really know what to fully expect. We gave our dancers the freedom to create their duos themselves, with a little bit of guidance because they love creating and we feel it is an important skill to nurture in our dancers. A couple of duos were unsure about competing at first, but we reassured them just to have fun, it wasn’t about winning, it was about learning!
In the weeks prior to the competition, we had extra rehearsals to finish our group piece. Our dancers (and parents) showed fantastic commitment, getting to last minute rehearsals at funny times, some of them from North and East London travelled all the way to West London, and some even finished work early to ensure their children arrived on time. The dancers stepped up, arrived ready to go full out, focused and on a mission to get the piece finished as a team.
Our team costumes had arrived and we needed footwear to go with them. As some of our dancers’ wear adult sizes and some wear small kids’ sizes, it was tricky to decide what footwear to go for. We needed a generic, branded trainer to ensure all sizes could be purchased. Eventually, we settled for Nike Air Force 1s and decided to customise them with splatters and glitter. This was decided for 2 reasons; firstly, so we stood out and had unique trainers to match our unique costumes, and secondly, it would justify why some parents had to re-mortgage their houses and cancel holidays to buy AF1s!!! Each pair took around 3-4 hours to complete, but the dancers were happy with the finished result. The weeks (and days) leading up to the competition was basically a sparkling glitzy glam world of organised chaos – glitter everywhere!!!
We had our final rehearsal the day before the competition. The piece was still not finished so we focused solely on that. We needed to end strong as well as start strong. The dancers worked super hard and worked together in smaller groups to practice sections when asked. Eventually, after a 4-hour rehearsal we finished the piece! We then done a dress rehearsal in our costumes to make sure everything was ok (which it was, thankfully.) We didn’t get the opportunity to clean our piece, but it was complete and we felt confident the dancers would remember it for the competition the following day, so just assured them all would be fine as long as they went home and rested, brought the energy the next day and gave it their best shot. Sometimes its about the process not the outcome.
The following morning, we all met up outside the venue, then went inside to compete. The solos went well and they all held their own, despite not placing. Duos were a bit shaky but they done their best, and also watched other duos so could learn what to do differently the next time they enter this category. TRNSCND were competing in the Junior U14 category for teams. 3 of our dancers were U10 so we were a bit worried they would get eaten alive on that stage, but they really did hold their own. Their formations could have been cleaner, but their energy, performance skills and group vibes were the best we had seen so far. We were super proud of them regardless of if they ended up placing or not.
One of our dancers, LJ, also volunteered himself to take part in a fun “handstand challenge” on the day. A number of children got up on stage and had to hold a handstand. The last one to come down was the winner. LJ beat around a dozen other children, even when his legs were being pushed to throw him off balance, he didn’t touch the floor – now that’s core strength! He won a Hotstepper t-shirt for showcasing his crazy skills, well done LJ for representing!
After all the performances and crazy antics, we all waited patiently, watching the other performers and feeling inspired. The standard was amazing and was great to see our beginners learning, soaking up the atmosphere and taking it all in. Then, it was results time. There were 6 places in each category and we had 10 groups in our category, all of a really high standard, so we wasn’t sure if we would place, but the dancers definitely performed the best they ever have done, so we were proud regardless. “In 6th Place Junior category….TRNSCND!” The children jumped up and went crazy. Half of them were watching from upstairs so didn’t make it down to stage on time, parents were cheering, we were all over the moon, they definitely held their own up there! They were all excited to get on stage and have a photo with their certificate, their hard work had paid off!
A week after the competition we had a discussion in crew training about our experience. We spoke about what we learned and what inspired us. We discussed what makes a good dancer. We decided on what needed fixing in our team dance and how we could fix these problems. We feel it is important for our dancers to be able to think, learn, reflect and problem solve themselves rather than being spoon fed. It helps them understand where they are as dancers too. Now we are getting ready to improve our piece and ourselves as dancers for our next competition, UD0 2.0 Championships in Gillingham on 07th June!