Friday, May 19, 2006

Catch-up post: Filling in the pre-competition day gap

Date: May 18th
Pre-competition day events...

I apologize, dear blog readers, for the gaps in my blogging lately. I have been very, very busy. Today was the NSAL competition. I will get to that shortly, but first I wanted to catch you up on yesterday's amazing events.

7:00 AM

I did go to the swimming pool. It was cold--but not too cold. Kind of refreshing-cold. When I got back home, it was time for a shower and some breakfast. I went downstairs to officially register. The ladies at the check-in table were very helpful. I got my nametag, a nice "NSAL 2006" canvas totebag, lots of Jacksonville maps and informational booklets, and my schedule. There was a big posterboard set up with all of the dancers' headshots on it. Seeing my picture there, it finally hit me that this was actually happening!

A nice surprise: there was a continental breakfast--not on the schedule--set up near the registration table. I wandered in to grab a muffin. I was very underdressed for this breakfast. All of the NSAL people were in pantsuits and dresses. And there I was, fresh out of the after-pool shower, in my jeans, t-shirt, and sweatshirt. Oops. So I said hi to some Bloomingtong people and crept back to my room.

9:00 AM

JoAnn, my wonderful competition sponsor (she's a member of the Bloomington chapter,) had gotten in late on Wednesday. I stopped by her room to plot our course of action for the morning. Being the wonder-woman that she is, we had a terrific game plan within minutes: we would try to find a place for me to give myself class, and maybe take a peek at the theatre stage where the competition would be held. After she had a bite to eat, she started calling Jacksonville studios and the Ritz theatre. The theatre agreed to let us poke around a bit, and a very nice lady at one studio offered to drive us from her studio back to the hotel, so we hopped in a cab and headed to the Ritz.

Well, ok. "Hopped in a cab" is too casual. We told the bellhop that we needed a taxi, and he pointed to a black car that was waiting for us. The driver held the door for us, and in we climbed to a black leather interior. Our driver was very nice--he waited at the theatre while we went inside. My roommate, Kelly, and Michelle (the one from PBT) came with me. We all walked through our solos. Then we got back in the car and headed to the studio, where we all gave ourselves good 45 minute workouts.

12:30 PM

President's Luncheon! They seated all of the dancers at the same table. I met several more girls, but there were still some who hadn't shown up yet. We had some good talk of mutual friends over salad, rolls, and chicken (well, no chicken for me,) and cake. After the meal, it was time for the society to get down to business. They made general announcements, inducted their new officers, had a chapter winner pianist perform, and there was an excellent speaker.

2:30 PM

Competition Orientation. Now things got a little bit real and intense. All of the competitors met in a tiny room so that we could learn the rules, regulations, and protocol for the next few days. Dress code, solo length, master class expectations, and other opportunities were reviewed. We were told that the announcement of awards wouldn't be made until Saturday evening at the Awards Banquet. Then we drew numbers, gave the sound people our music, and ate cookies and punch. I drew #11 out of 18. My roommate would be #12, and Michelle would be #10. I felt very lucky to know that I would be surrounded by people I knew :).

6:30ish PM

Paddleboat up the St. John's River to a country club for dinner. Beautiful 45 minute ride on the Annabelle Lee. We had to pass a bridge that had just come "down," blocking our way. We had to wait for a train to cross, so we were late leaving, which ultimately meant a late evening . The country club was BEAUTIFUL. We had a southern-style feast: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and salad, with pecan pie for dessert. I sat with the people from my chapter. Lila Huse, who funded my travel award and was in IUBT years ago (and married to David Higgens for over 20 years,) had arrived for the luncheon. I got to sit next to her at the dinner and hear about the department's history. It was quite interesting. I had no idea that Anton Dolin worked there for some time!

10:30 PM

Visit to Mama in her hotel room. She had arrived as we were leaving for our paddleboat cruise. We chatted a bit, and then I headed to bed. I couldn't believe that the competition was approaching so quickly!

11:30 PM



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