Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Digs over at

Hey friends and followers, make sure you update your bookmarks and links - we are now exclusively located at  This blogger location will no longer be updated as of 11/28/12.  Come over and check it out!

-Coach Erin

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Conference Results 11/20

South Suburban Conference Jazz Meet - Eagan
Side 1:
1. Eastview
2. Eagan
3. Lakeville South
Also on side 1: Lakeville North, Prior Lake
Side 2:
1. Burnsville
2. Rosemount
3. Apple Valley
Also on side 2: Bloomington
Overall Ranks:
Eastview (4)
Burnsville (9)
Eagan (12)
Lakeville South (16)
Rosemount (20)
Apple Valley (29)

Classic Suburban Conference Jazz Meet - Hill Murray
Side 1:
1. Simley
2. South St. Paul
Side 2:
1. Henry Sibley
2. Tartan
Hill Murray

North Suburban Conference Jazz Meet - North Branch
Group 1: 
1. Totino Grace (3)
2. Irondale (6)
Also in group 1: North Branch, St. Francis, Robbinsdale Cooper
Group 2:
1. Spring Lake Park (4)
2. Benilde St. Margarets (5)
Also in group 2: Fridley, Chisago Lakes

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Recap Sheet - Monday 11/19/12

Well we are finally here - we have results in the book and the first performances of the year have started the competition phase of the year off right.  Everyone is getting warmed up and those routines are getting pulled together for the big invitationals coming up in the month of December.  Today we have our first recap of what has happened so far and what we're looking forward to this next week in the world of dance team.  

NW Suburban Conference, Friday November 16th, Coon Rapids High School
The NWSC always comes out swinging in their first jazz meet of the year, the earliest in the state.  The conference splits into two competing "sides" who will be going against one another that night.  I got a chance to pop in this meet and it was an amazing feeling to see some real live action dance that wasn't on a video screen.  There is no way to beat that feeling.  Plus the NWSC has some great fans and parents.  Thanks guys for making room for me, double checking song artists, and chatting dance with me!  Here are the results:
Side 1:
1. Blaine
2. Anoka
also on this side: Centennial, Coon Rapids, Champlin Park
Side 2: 
1. Maple Grove
2. Andover
Also on this side: Osseo, Park Center, Elk River

Thoughts:  I missed the opening 2 dances, so I didn't see what Blaine was bringing to the mix in order to win their side.  Anoka was lovely and looked solid.  Coon Rapids finished off this side with a really unique idea with a mask and some dark undertones to the dance that I found refreshing and suited their ability level and talent base.  Over on side 2, Andover kicked it off with my first genuine goosebumps of the season.  Their steady and controlled skills really make their dance so powerful and effortless.  Very impressed with them.  Maple Grove looked stunning as usual - no one performs and emotes the way they do in person.  I have to remind myself that those girls are actually high school age.  They dance with such maturity.  I love their new costumes, the pictures don't do it justice.  Park Center brought out a big group this year, its nice to see the progress of that program.  

Burnsville Invitational, Saturday November 17th:
The invitational season kicked off at one of two sites this weekend with Burnsville hosting the larger gathering.  Here are the results:
JV AAA High Kick
1.  Farmington JV (3)
V AAA High Kick
1.  Farmington (5)
2.  Rogers (7)
AA JV Jazz
1.  Totino-Grace JV (3)
AAA B Squad
1.  Burnsville (4)
AA Varsity Jazz
1.  Totino-Grace (3.5)
2.  Fridley (7)
3.  Simley
1.  Duluth East (3)
2.  Burnsville (8)
3.  Eagan (9)
4.  Champlin Park (14)
AAA Varsity Jazz
1.  Eagan (3)
2.  Spring Lake Park (8)
3.  Forest Lake (10)
4.  Burnsville (12.5)

Thoughts:  While I wasn't there, I'm happy to see that some teams that don't always get a big share of 1st place trophies were taking home some gold this weekend. Farmington's program continues to build and took home a 1st in varsity kick, while Eagan beat their section rival Spring Lake Park in the opening meeting in AAA jazz.  Forest Lake continues to show improvement in their jazz category, coming in ahead of host Burnsville to take the 3rd place spot.  TG, Fridley, and Simley took the same order as they did last year at this meet in jazz, with TG fielding a large group that is a bit against the recent statewide trend of smaller jazz teams, that should be exciting once I get to see it.  There is a lot of potential for formations and group choices with a larger team that I will enjoy taking in.  

Shakopee Invitational, Saturday November 17th:
Shakopee hosted it's 1st invite (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) where we get to see some Lake Conference pre-season matchups that made me want to immediately clear my schedule for those upcoming battles in the conference.  Check out the results:
AAA Varsity Jazz:
1. Edina (4)
2. Hopkins (5)
3. Eden Prairie (9)
4. Shakopee (12)
AAA JV Jazz:
1.Eden Prairie (3)
2. Edina (6)
3. Hopkins (9)
4. Shakopee (12)
5. Osseo (15)

Thoughts:  Again, I wasn't at this meet, but I can't imagine what it must have taken to end up first in this matchup.  Edina pulls out a squeaker over Hopkins, and Eden Prairie, a state finalist last year, slides into the 3rd spot.  I wouldn't say this means anything certain for the future, as I would never write off Hopkins or EP, but I'm going to enjoy watching the intense fight to sections we have ahead of us for section 2AAA and the Lake Conference.  Gotta be feeling good about winning round one Edina - good for you. 

What a crazy first weekend!  Love to see some new faces on top, some brave groups tested the early waters out there and that is no small thing.  Congrats to all the teams who've had their first performances!  

Whats on tap for this week:

Tuesday, November 20th
Classic Suburban Conference Jazz Meet - Hill Murray High School
South Suburban Conference Jazz Meet - Eagan High School

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Parents 101: The Invitational Day

Going to your first dance team invitational can be rather intimidating as you are seeing this unique world for the first time.  Even experienced studio parents have a few new things to master when it comes time to spend your whole Saturday in the gym.  We’re going over a few of the things you’ll need to know for negotiating the world of invitational.  

The setup: 
  • Invites are typically Saturday affairs, but weeknight meets often have some of these same elements.  
  •  Parking is always a problem.  Carpooling, having an accurate set of directions and knowing a bit of the neighborhood is always a good idea.  Leave extra time – snow is a common companion. 
  • If your team’s division is early in the day – plan to arrive when the “doors open” not when the meet begins.  Otherwise you may miss out on a good seat or your team altogether. 
  •  Leave your coat in the car if you can stand the walk.  Gyms are often quite warm by mid-morning so having some layers and nothing to carry around is a plus.
  • Meets have varying admission fees.  Sometimes programs are extra.  Bring cash and have it ready if you have to wait in line.
The gym:

  • Many meets run “double sided” – meaning your team and division will face only one direction, while another division of competition will face the other side.  There are signs posted for what doors to use, but be familiar with what your team is called (including abbreviations) and what division they are (kick or jazz?) (A, AA, AAA?)( JV or Varsity?)  The order of competition changes from meet to meet. 
  • When you enter, always stay off the main court when walking and keep traffic moving.  Stop to talk to friends out of the flow of the doorways and stairways.  Always sit in a real seat, not on the steps or they will ask you to move.  Never walk through, sit in, or stand in front of the roped off judges seating area (usually top center bleachers – best seats in the house).  If there is space to stand behind the judges, they typically don’t allow you to do that. 
  • Find your schools fans and don’t be afraid to sit with them.  Teams love to see a block of fans together – and it’s a great way to meet other parents and fans of your school.  Everyone is friendly and in the same boat – don’t be shy.  Trust me, your dancer wants to see you sit with them and not off by yourself.  It matters more to her than it will to you. 
  •  Doors typically open only every other dance at big meets, so time bathroom and concession breaks leaving plenty of time to get back in for your favorite dances.  This is a common “rookie mistake”. 
The flow of the meet:

  •  The announcer gets an “ok” from the superior judge before the next team may be brought in.  Then they announce “in the hole” (which means 3 teams from now will be that team), “on deck” (who will be next), and who is performing now.  They read this from a standard announcing sheet provided by each team. 
  • When the team comes out you’ll notice there are only 3 seats for official coaches on each side and then additional seating for non-dancers.  Just because you see an army of girls come out to sit, that doesn’t mean that everyone is cut by a strict coach – keep in mind that JVs often come out to watch too.
  • Loud cheering, yelling, clapping, and encouraging are often part of the performance.  Follow your team’s other parents at first for some clues.  Certainly, clapping after every performance is expected and good sportsmanship.  If a team is facing your side, be sure to stay seated and keep movement and talking to a minimum.  Cell phones on vibrate.
  • Once all the dances have concluded, awards are run according to the host school’s wishes.  Some allow circles on the floor; others like lines, some formal events have a parade of teams. After awards, feel free to take some pictures with the team or your dancer.  Bring that camera!
  • Respect the need to clear the floor quickly afterward or get the dancers to their busses.  Follow the coaches’ procedures if you are taking your dancer home with you – often you can’t just leave with your dancer without notice.
Things to know:

  • If you plan to videotape – you are only allowed to film your school and those you directly competed against.  Other divisions are not a part of your “meet” and shouldn’t be filmed. Also, always ask your coaches before posting videos on you tube.  Many teams prefer to keep their dances offline until the end of the season.  Also be aware that if you allow comments on videos, you will likely get someone who says something not so nice.  
  •  You (and your dancer) may want to have a plan for food during the day, if you’re getting a meet t-shirt, or whatnot.   Meets usually have a substantial concession stand, but that might not be for you.  Don’t get stuck without food, medications, and other needs. 
  • I have personally found that the day of the meet is best to stick to positives.  Correcting mistakes, complaining about issues, ect is all something that can be done when you’re back at practice on Monday.  Keep in mind; everyone can hear your comments about another team in the stands even if you don’t think so.  Celebrate the hard work and achievements of today, and leave the negatives for some other time and place.  Also, judges are not refs of the NFL.  They are professionals who deserve respect for the time and talent they freely offer to our sport for limited gain.  While you may not agree with everything they say, dance team sportsmanship expects you to keep your words and actions appropriate towards them. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Parents 101: Scoresheet Basics Part 2

Now that you've gotten a chance to look at the basics of how the scoresheet is put together, there is a lot that goes into the administration and "tabbing" of that sheet to get a winner.  Lets take a look at more about the scoresheets:

Rank Points:

The points you read about on this site and that ultimately determine the winners are called “rank points”.  This is determined in the tab room, and not by the judges in the stands.  This allows each judge to have an equal voice in determining the winner, rather than the judge who scores very high or very low influencing the outcome overly much.  Here’s how it works:

  • Say there were 4 teams in a meet.  Judge # 1 gives them 75, 34, 66, and 87 points respectively.  The tab room would assign a “rank” to the highest scoring team first (87 points), giving them a “first place” or “1” rank.  Then go down the list and assign the 2nd place (75 points), 3rd place (66 points), and 4th place (34 points) team from that one judge’s scores.  Each individual judge has this done to all of his/her scores turned in at the end of the meet. 
  • Then we change from looking at the judge’s scores to looking at all the scores and ranks earned by a single team.  Typically, larger meets drop one “low” (good) rank, and two “high” (bad) ranks.  This makes sure one bad opinion (or one overly good opinion) doesn’t skew the result.  The ranks remaining for your team are added together to get a “total rank”.  Team with the lowest total rank wins! 
  •  In the event of a tied rank score, ranks and dropped scores are added back in based on a detailed system of tiebreakers.  At state, ties are not allowed to stand (anymore), but some meets may allow it.  
  •  It is possible to have earned 87 points for a first place rank and then another judge from the same meet says you got 90 points, but that was only good enough for second place.  Ranks ultimately determine the winner.  It is also possible (not unusual even) to see a team with a higher total score take a lower overall placement because of ranking. 
  • Total scores can also be used for smaller meets to determine the winner. 
Who are those people doing all this?  

  •  Each meet has a “superior judge” who is in charge of other judges and any issues that come up.  You may or may not be able to pick out who that person is in the judges area.  Their scores are listed first on the recap sheet at the end of the meet, but they don’t have a greater say than the rest of the panel.  The superior also signs off on the results. 
  • The other judges are working independently up in the stands.  They do not view other scoresheets or discuss what to score someone.  Anytime you see talking, it is about a procedural item, a rule violation that may have occurred, or a problem. 
  • There are also some stopwatch and clicker holding personnel who are kick counters and timers.  They fill out a quick ½ sheet with the total time of the dance and any kicks performed by the entire team are counted towards the required minimum and maximum.  These people do not also judge the dance.  Other judges do not see the time or kicks written on these sheets, they are to fulfill a requirement only. 
  •  Runners come in and out to move sheets from the stands to the tab room so work can begin on transcribing the scores into the computer or on to the master recap sheets.  
  •  Down in front there are a sound technician and announcer running the technical aspects of the meet at the main table known as the “sound table”.  An empty table on the opposite side is for coaches of teams facing “away from the sound table”.  There may be a trainer, school official, or photographer hanging out in this area too.

Clear as mud right?  Well, we’ll be digging in to the specific categories on the scoresheet in upcoming articles – check back to learn more about how a great dance turns into a great score (or sometimes not).  See you then!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Product Review

Product Review: Behringer EUROLIVE B205D 

Normally when I think about music “boxes” for dance teams, I have visions of huge karaoke machines on carts being lugged around by some poor coach or manager – sometimes I see two person teams taking one of those off a school bus in the middle an icy January morning.  (yuck)  I think in the time I have coached I’ve never found something I’ve really been happy with.  Small equipment wasn’t powerful, big equipment was a pain, and most of all – it was very expensive.  So I have to share with you all that I have discovered a great back-saver this fall that could very well exceed my expectations.  It’s called the Behringer EUROLIVE B205D.  Why am I loving this?  Let’s take a look….

·         Portability:  This thing is 7lbs.  (7!)  This means I can carry it in one hand without wishing I had a cart.  I also keep mine in a very nice audio bag with padded sides and a handle – keeps it safe, clean, small, and easy to transport.  The audio bag also carries the cords, my headset, and a first aid kit so I’m saving space and have the things I need with me at all times. 
Extra Case Doubles as First Aid Kit and Extra Storage

·         Powerful:  Its 150 watts.  The nearest regular “boom box” was 60 watts and the same price.  It’s a real PA quality speaker that can fill the gym, cafeteria, or studio room no problem.  I used the volume at ½ of maximum for a show in a cafeteria.  

·         All-in-one:  This is a speaker, mixer, and multi-input device in one.  All the inputs are in the front, so it’s easy to plug and unplug iPods, portable CD players, ect.  You can mix up the volume of your iPod, or keep that low and let the speaker do the work.  You have control of what sounds best for your room.  Turn down the bass on that kick mix if it’s echoing.  No problem for this unit.  Need a microphone for that kid’s clinic?  It has inputs for that too.

·         No CD player to break:  By keeping your CD player or iPod as a separate piece, it can’t break and ruin the whole system.  It’s just the speaker, one solid piece with less moving parts to damage with the abuse of a dance team season.  

·         Plugs and plays in strange spots:  I ordered a super long cord for iPod plug in so I don’t even have to be standing close to the unit to change up the song or volume.  It’s small and light, so at my fall practices it sits on top of a pop machine.  Couldn’t do that before.  This is also prepped for mounting on a microphone stand if you want it off the ground.  
Outlet on top of the pop machine?  No problem this time.

·         Loud:  Did I mention it’s loud?  Crisp, clear, punchy bass and I can actually hear the details in the music cuts for a change.  Good for those hard to count songs that would give you trouble on a cheap speaker system.  

I’ve included links to the items I bought on Amazon below – check it out if you’re in need of something affordable, light, and a real workhorse.  Don’t forget this is good for home studios and practicing too.  Let me know if you try this out and love it as much as I do!