If you're like me, and you love to watch dance competitions for hours on end, then I suggest you get on down to the Sheraton Hotel and Towers and watch some of the 2008 New York City Dance Alliance National Season Finale. You can view the schedule here.
I first went to a NYCDA National Season Finale in 2005 and wrote about it in one of my earliest blog entries, entitled Remembering My Love for Dance.
After that year, I was hooked and kept coming back. And now I watch some of the young people who participated in the show as they appear on So You Think You Can Dance.
At the Season Finale, young people from dance studios all over the nation come and compete with each other within categories of both age and dance. The menu of dance types seems unending, and includes these ones: lyrical group, hip hop line, tap line, musical theatre production, small and large jazz production.
Prior to the two final shows - Junior Gala and then Senior gala - there are two weeks of dance camp followed by a bunch of nights of competition which narrow all the categories down to the best of the best.
Out of the public eye, the dancers also have the opportunity to audition for Broadway shows like Billy Elliot.
They come with their families and stay in whichever hotel which hosts the event. Right now, if you venture over to the Sheraton Towers, you will find the place swarming with young people decked out in Broadway-quality costumes.
One of my favorite dancers over the years has been Taja Riley. I ran into her tonight and asked her if I could interview her. Hopefully, that's something coming down the pike.
It is extremely difficult to get tickets to the Senior Gala, especially for someone like me who is not coming with a studio. Tonight, I was standing by the ticket board and a woman came up to me, asking "You looking to buy or sell?" "Buy," I said, and she whipped out a red ticket, offering it to me at a discounted price. I was beyone ecstatic.
We chatted a little bit- she was a mom of four girls and two of them were part of the competition. She told me that she knew of dance studios in other parts of the country where the girls were practicing eight to twelve hours per day, being home-schooled, etc. I said "That life might be right for some families, but not all," and she agreed.
Something I'd like to see more of in the Season Finale is young people of color. I suspect that the high cost of dance lessons, costumes, etc. is prohibitive to a lot of families.
I can't wait for the Senior Gala on Thursday night. Stay tuned for details..........