|Image Courtesy of Indiana Challenge|
Last weekend a group of friends and I journeyed down to Merrillville Indiana to catch the professional competition known as Indiana Challenge. I had attended this competition with a few of the same folks last year as well, and I do always like to make a repeat appearance if a comp is good. I like this one because it's not too far, it's smaller compared to some of the others, I know or have seen most of the competitors before, and possibly get a glimpse at what professionals are new to the circuit. As a side bonus I usually get to catch up in person with TNG, who is now teaching out of a studio in that area.
Our merry band of fans headed towards the boarder early enough so that we could eat at the pub in the hotel, last year we ended up with a big group and it was a lot of fun, this time it was a little more subdue but still nice. While puttering around I ran into TNG, seeing him always makes me squeak with glee (I'm really not much of a squeaker in general) I'm just proud to see someone I've known since the day they graced the dance floor doing so well. Before long it was time to find our way towards the ballroom.
|STP and HFC from Emerald Star Ball 2010|
"Hey [STP]...you're carrying....dance stuff!" I stated with glee!
"Uh..yeah well...you know..." he kind of mumbled.
"Yay! Who are you dancing with?" I inquire as I follow his gaze to.... HFC! "Ah, you must be dancing with this lovely partner right here!" I exclaim as I give HFC a hug hello. (She was very obviously dancing as she had the pretty hair piece already in place).
Yipee! Getting to see STP and HFC hit the floor again! I was so pleased! They had retired last year as an American Rhythm and 9 Dance competitive couple, and I knew seeing this competition tonight did not mean they were coming back, they were there to have a bit of fun and, I later learned, that they missed having fans cheer for them. (Awww).
Nearly immediately after my exchange with STP and HFC, TSD and FAF came on by to say hi before the all went off to prepare. One of the most genuine things that always comes from these professionals is their appreciation of our attendance when they compete, this makes it that much easier to make the effort to come cheer them on. I happily made my way to the ballroom.
I had called in advance to reserve our tickets, unfortunately for whatever reason the seats we got weren't exactly together but they were very close, and that's fine really, the chair is only for sitting in between events I'm interested in anyway. Although I will tell you that in the process of trying to get the seats situated TNG hooked me up and introduced me to one of the competition organizers which was very kind. (This is one of the many reasons why it pays to be out going and do what you can to stay in touch with people you meet along the way.) I was extrordinarily impressed by his reaction to my name, he thought it was very cool. I was happy as a clam just waiting for my preferred events to start. Get me in a room full of ballroom people add competition and hand me a glass of wine, I'm set for the night!
It was pretty clear that on the professional side of things this is somewhat of a "rebuilding" comp. What I mean by that is a LOT of new faces. Especially in American Rhythm! STP and HFC were the first to compete and it was very evident that they were the most polished out there. At one point, I believe it was in the Semi final STP threw out a wild JUMP into the air. I've seen their routines a lot, I don't recall that ever being in there, nor do I recall seeing it re-appear in the final. He caught some good air though.
As predicted, STP and HFC came in FIRST PLACE and won Indiana Challenge Open Rhythm! CONGRATULATIONS! It's always so much fun to cheer for you both!!!
In between heats the professionals would store their stuff near us, check in, let us know how it felt to be out there, tell us funny stories about getting ready to compete and in some cases help us cheer on their counterparts. That's always a lot of fun.
|TSD and FAF (from OSB 2010)|
This event also had a semi-final, making it to the final was a cake walk for TSD and FAF, the final itself was a little harder. There were some new couples I don't recall seeing that were putting up a really good fight! We cheered our best for them and I could tell something was a bit off, I don't know what and I didn't ask...but I can generally tell when any kind of a performance is just not gelling...it's an energy that the performers give off. Had it been the kind of energy I'd felt at Ohio, I'd have claimed them the winners before the start of the Viennese Waltz, but this time I had them placed 2nd.
Turns out I was only kind of right. TSD and FAF were placed 3rd, by Rule 11. Which means they actually tied for 2nd place and Rule 11 then has the scrutineer look at the actual placements each judge has down for the tied couples and whomever has more 1st's (as an example) will get the higher placement overall. (That is a very simplified explanation of Rule 11 as I understand it) Still a very hearty CONGRATULATIONS to TSD and FAF... the year is just beginning and you all have bigger titles to take. :-)
While all this was going on I had several very lovely mini conversations with TNG, and I look very much forward to watching his career continue to progress as well.
With Indiana Challenge over and hugs from the pros thanking us for attending and cheering, we headed back to the Land of Lincoln already making plans for the next competitions to attend.