Comp kids, you never cease to amaze us. Summer after summer, you come to Nationals rocking fresh looks, innovative choreography and solid technique. And 2014 didn’t disappoint: This year brought us new trends—from fashion to footwork—that we’d love to see stick around (and some we’d like to see disappear).
(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; (2) Evolve Photography, Courtesy New York City Dance Alliance; Take2 Productions, Courtesy Showstopper; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Courtesy Tremaine; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA)
Here are a few of our favorite things.
Werk: Group ballroom numbers. Who says you need an equal number of guys and girls to ride the Hot Tamale Train?
Womp: Excessive violence onstage. Please, no more mimed strangling, gunshots or screams.
This year, we saw a departure from gank-tastic, sassy fem-hop. In its place? Female hip-hoppers who were unafraid to get down and hit hard. Ladies, you introduced us to a whole new kind of fierce.
(Clockwise from left: (2) Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; (2) Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)
The pouf bun was the hairstyle of the season, with bumped-up bangs adding a touch of sophistication to the classic ballet bun.
(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; (2) Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe)
Werk: ‘90s and early 2000s #Throwbacks—Michael Jackson is never out of style.
Womp: Overused songs. If you hear it Every time you turn on the radio, chances are the judges are already sick of it (and so is the audience!).
Impossibly long hamstrings and seemingly spineless torsos are always a “do.” You all contorted your bodies into some seriously impressive (even shocking!) shapes.
(Clockwise from left: Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy West Coast Dance Explosion; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Dancesnaps (DRC Video Productions), Courtesy Dance Olympus/DanceAmerica)
Playing it safe is overrated! You threw yourselves across the stage, unafraid to be upside down, sideways or completely off balance.
(Clockwise from top: Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photograhy, Courtesy NYCDA; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe)
Werk: Polished ballet technique. We love comp queens who can work it in a pair of pointe shoes.
Womp: Wearing only one shoe---on your turning foot. (Don’t tell us you’re one-sided!)
We were blown away by this year’s rhythm geniuses. Not only was your footwork on point—you also mastered the art of a polished yet relaxed upper body.
(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Evolve Photography, Courtesy West Coast Dance Explosion; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)
We loved the throwback to 1920s men’s fashion—slim-cut suits, bow ties, vests and fedoras looked suave on the ladies as well as the gents.
(Clockwise from left: John Pinette/Performance Photography, Courtesy American Dance Awards; Dancesnaps (DRC Video Productions), Courtesy Dance Olympus/DanceAmerica; (2) Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour)
Werk: Leotards with daring mesh cutouts---a tasteful update on the standard bra top and booty shorts.
Womp: Crotch Shots---If you’re going to wear a high-cut leotard with no tights, be careful where you tilt.
The Center-Split Hold
This move—where you hold a center split inches off the floor—is the perfect blend of flexibility and strength. Plus, it’s an innovative solution to that age-old conundrum: How do I get off the floor creatively?
(From top: Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA)
Variations on a Theme
Sure, identical costumes help keep things clean and consistent, but there’s something even more appealing about group costumes that aren’t totally uniform.
(Clockwise from left: John Pinette/Performance Photography, Courtesy American Dance Awards; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; (2) Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)
Werk: Unique prop concepts that actually enhance the piece. (Snaps for no arbitrary props!)
Womp: Props that take more than 30 seconds to set up. Your dads are adorable, but the judges don’t want to watch them assemble giant props---they want to see you dance.
Cabaret—Ooh, La, La!
Dancers dripping in bling brought sass to the stage! We saw sparkly bra-tops, corsets, fishnets and fringe, which are all reminiscent of the flapper style.
“I don’t like dancing in layers because I feel restricted. At my studio, we buy our own bras and cover them with material. They look really nice onstage, especially when they have a lot of diamonds!” — Madison Booth, 15, dancer at Elite Danceworx in Toronto, ON, CAN (far right)
“Slips are comfortable and easy to dance in. It doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a costume.”— Kayla Troughton, 16 dancer at Elite Danceworx in Toronto, ON, CAN (center)
Mad for Plaid
Convention goers piled on scarves, socks, shorts, backpacks and button-downs in plaid patterns. Checks please!
“At first I was like, ‘why are dancers wearing scarves? It’s 90 degrees in LA!’ But the scarves are actually really thin and accent the rest of an outfit.” —Shane Sparks, teacher at The PULSE
“All ages and levels were sporting plaid of some sort in classes at The PULSE on Tour this year. The most popular colors were yellow, red, purple, blue and black and white. We saw plaid button-down shirts, plaid shorts and dresses. I even saw a pair of red plaid shoes on one of the protégés in NYC. —April Cook, PR/Marketing Director at The PULSE
Femme and Fabulous
You got your girly-girl on and looked lovely in ruffles, lace, satin and pretty dresses.
“I’m wearing a vintage dress from the 50s. It’s very housewife-esque: innocent and put together.” —Danna Rosenfield, 17, (right) dancer at Bobbie’s School of Performing Arts in Newbury Park, CA
Metallic booty shorts, dresses, leggings, sneakers and even unitards made dancers shine—literally!
“I would totally wear this dress to a homecoming dance or a formal dinner.” —Naja Lee, 15, (right) dancer at Premier One Dance Academy in Chicago, IL
Each of these masks was hand-painted and customized for the dancers. Perhaps some competition for the JabbaWockeeZ?
This year choreographers gave a nod to “So You Think You Can Dance” by adding partnering to their routines. We saw it in every style from ballet to hip hop.
“We do a lot of interesting lifts in this dance. Some people are in ballet slippers and some are in pointe shoes. It’s modern ballet, and it’s scary.” —Kaylie Pearson from Excite Dance Company in Flower Mound, TX, on her Dracula-themed ballet routine
Breaking The Mold
Many studios played on the idea of high school stereotypes, from the popular clique to the geeks.
The dancers from Southwest School of Dance in Marshall, MN, are not friends until the end of the number when they flip their signs to show real names, indicating that they’ve broken down barriers. Their routine was titled “Labels” and they danced to Citizen Cope’s “Let the Drummer Kick.”
“Everyone is waiting on the world to change, but we’re the ones to change it, and we’re doing that through dance.” —Fenton Fulgham, co-owner and choreographer at Revelation Dance Studio in Plano, TX, on his production number to John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” about high school cliques
“This year, I’ve noticed a lot of novelty and character pieces, like ‘Ring Them Bells’ and ‘Speaking French.’ It’s all about musical theater.” —Amber Skipps from South Coast Performing Arts in Tustin, CA
“Every team brought its own individuality this year from the music to the choreography. We saw a lot of variety. The one thing that all the teams had in common was amazing choreographers and dancers with strong work ethics. Every team really pushed to the limit.” —Rodney Chester, Trio Talent Agency, judge at LA Dance Magic
“What’s been really big this year is that contemporary is totally outshining the other styles due to ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ The tricks are now more than just kicks and turns. Teams are watching the moves on TV and making them their own. We’ve also seen a lot of lyrical hip-hop, probably thanks to Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo.” —Harmony Flores from Dance & Cheer Stars in Manteca, CA
“We’re seeing real contemporary, not just flopping around and falling on the floor. Choreographers are telling a story rather than just creating steps. The music editing has also improved greatly this year.” —Rustin Matthews, judge at Hollywood Vibe
“Ever since ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ I’ve noticed people are choreographing to slow songs and incorporating themed choreography. Themes make you want to pay attention. I’m very theme-oriented. I can’t just get up there and do moves because moves don’t mean anything. This is something that I hope people start catching on to, so that at the end of a piece people are like, ‘I really felt that.’” —Shane Sparks, teacher at The PULSE
The songs of the season: “Halo” by Beyoncé, “The Garden” by Mirah, “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, “Breakable” by Ingrid Michaelson, “Putting on the Ritz” by Irving Berlin, “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls, “Rock This Party” by Bob Sinclair, “Mercy” by Duffy, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer, “Lost” by Anouk, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, “Ring Them Bells” by Bob Dylan, “Be Our Guest” from Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, “Cabaret” from Cabaret, “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees, “Closer” by Ne-Yo, “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress,” “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, “Boogie Shoes” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) ” by “Beyoncé, “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel,” “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas, “Cool” from West Side Story, “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by Buckwheat Boyz, “Innocence” by Bjork, “Champagne Supernova” by Angie Aparo, “Grace” by Kate Havnevik, “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé...