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Chill Standing: the LWW Dance Comp

Kaiya Hoffman '25

Feb 16, 2024

Over the Long Winter Weekend, Mercersburg Academy’s pre-professional dance group traveled to the Grier School in Tyrone, PA for a two-day dance convention and competition. After classes on Friday, February 3, we piled into two vans, equipped with our jazz shoes and snacks, and drove to what would be our home for the next two days: a Comfort Suite. Before going to bed early, we secured some much-needed Chipotle and Sweet Frog as fuel in preparation for the upcoming classes and competition. 

The next day, we arrived at the Grier school at about 8:30 a.m. for our 9:00 a.m. class. Kate Talley ‘26 was able to reunite with a hometown friend who attends Grier. Most of our early classes were contemporary and modern, which some of us loved. We immediately connected with the other dancers and were extremely impressed (and only a little bit scared) by their skill level. The classes were engaging but exhausting and we learned some awesome choreography from Ke$ha’s last tour as well as some beautiful contemporary choreography. 

After 5 hours of classes, we slapped on some makeup, got into our costumes, and spaced our pieces on the huge stage. With 52 different entries from 5 companies, the competition lasted around 2 and a half hours. Our first entry, “Still Standing”, was a little rough, and we were worried it wouldn’t place. However, our second entry, “It Left Us Lingering,” went much more smoothly. I felt like we succeeded at dancing as a group and at telling a clear and effective story with our movement. 

Immediately following the competition, the judges announced awards and placements. Caroline Hobbs’ solo entry won silver and Elizabeth Orders’ solo won gold. “Still Standing” earned gold and placed third overall, and "It Has Left Us Lingering” won gold and placed second. After a long first day, we left Grier, got pizza, and returned to the hotel around 10 p.m. to collapse on our beds.

 As soon as we started classes at 9 a.m. the following morning, we knew it was going to be another long day.  I warmed up by doing some pliés in what we call center, and my legs almost gave out from under me. In addition to the regular dance classes, we also got to participate in a Pilates class, which was supposed to be relaxing but instead felt like a cruel joke. 

When classes ended at about 2:30, the dancers gathered in the black box theater and watched a professional performance by our judges and convention teachers. Each group of teachers put together one or two pieces and performed them. All of the dances were incredible and made me appreciate our teachers as experienced dancers. At the end of the performance, scholarships were awarded to specific dancers. Ellie Sapp ‘25 was awarded a scholarship for next year’s Motion Competition. We thanked our teachers and loaded ourselves back into the vans. Thankfully, we stopped at Starbucks and Sheetz on the way back to Mercersburg for a last bit of off-campus food!

Now that I’ve recovered, I’m very thankful for this experience and can’t wait to do it again next year.

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