And just like that, another Nationals season has come and gone. Whether you’re still riding the high or are back home and icing your achy muscles, there was so much to celebrate this year. Here are five things we loved seeing at Nationals from coast to coast this year.
1. Super simple costumes
Yes, we love rhinestones and glitter [and all that jazz]. But we also really love seeing dancers dance without distractions. So when dancers took the stage in toned-down costumes (think jewel-toned leotards or simple black-on-black tops and bottoms) and slicked-back ponytails, we were able to just watch the performance and appreciate it. Way to keep it simple, beauties.
2. Dancers branching out in class
High fives to all the dancers out there who skipped out on their comfort zones in favor of hitting up a new convention class. For every tapper who tried contemporary and every ballerina who hit up a hip-hop class, we salute you. Hold on to that courage, bravery, and adventure-seeking spirit. It will serve you well!
3. Honest contemporary routines
Contemporary is a tricky category. It can be tempting to deliver an uber-emotional routine about a devastating current event or social situation — and sometimes we are all for that! But other times, it’s nice to watch a contemporary routine that’s more uplifting than it is sad. If sadness suits you and your studio, by all means have at it! But it’s OK to engage in some contemporary choreography that isn’t about bullying, a world war, or death. Smiles are allowed in contemporary, too!
4. Ditching the mega props and gimmicks
Gone seem to be the days of awesome Dance Dads wheeling giant props onto the stage for nearly every performance, from a musical theater solo to a studio-wide mega-production. Props can be tons of fun, but just like with simple costumes, hair, and accessories, it’s nice to just sit back and watch a dance happen onstage instead of around a makeshift barn or on a set of unsteady monkey bars. (And there was very little if any lip syncing this year! The judges are rarely fans of lip syncing, so way to keep it to a minimum this year, choreographers!)
5. Terrific teamwork
There is nothing that makes our hearts burst more than dancers excitedly running offstage post-performance and hugging their teammates. (Or, better yet, friends from another studio!) Teamwork really does make the dream work, and any dancer knows that you don’t get anywhere — at Nationals or beyond — on your own. Keep supporting your studio-mates, keep encouraging each other, and keep pushing each other to strive for more. That is what will make the difference onstage and in life.