Cincinnati Country Day School sophomore Katie Wang is a member of the varsity golf team, an officer for EDI Council, and founder of the Country Day API Cultural Society. She has also been dancing for eight years. Below is her account of the day she became a national dance champion.
During the first day of the Star System National Competition, I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. and began my makeup and hair. I was feeling nervous because all our teen group dances and solos were all in one day. First, it was group dances, which I believe is the most stressful moment out of the whole competition because of the short period between dances, where we must change costumes and our hairstyle. As soon as we finished our first dance, we ran back to the dressing room, where the parents have already laid out our costumes, chairs, hair clips, and everything else we needed. There were bobby pins, baby pins, hair clips all over the parents' bodies to make them more quickly accessible. As a team, we always try to help each other to the best of our abilities, so once we were all set the parents helped other kids get ready, while the dancers help find other dancers' costumes to make the process faster. We always try to make sure that everything is in the right place, everybody understands the changes we made in the dance, and that we are all on the same page.
By the third group dance, we were gassed - we could hear each other breathing heavily. But we looked at each other, hugged, and reminded each other that we can do this. As soon as the music was set in motion, we all were in the moment, and put the biggest smile on our faces, and sucked ourselves into the story, while displaying it with the most beautiful moves.
By 4 o’clock, it was time for my solo. I was sitting on the chair while my teacher put the final touches on my makeup. I could hear my heart pounding, all my blood rushing up to my head - my leg wouldn’t stop bouncing up and down, my head was spinning with endless possibilities on how this would end. I looked up and surrounding me were other dancers and soloists that were competing in the competition - they were flawless. My body felt like a ton of bricks; I couldn’t stop thinking about how I may mess up. But then my thoughts were interrupted by warm hugs from my mom, dance teacher, and friends. Every negative thought seemed to disappear.
Before I walked onto the stage, I took a deep breath, and my music began. Wait - this isn’t my music! The audience didn’t know, nor the judges, but my teacher and I knew it was wrong. I took a deep breath and kept smiling until the judges were notified there was a technical issue. They informed me that I can go backstage until the issue was fixed. I then came out once again, and all of the nervousness was gone. I was entangled in the story and projected it through my moves. Everything went according to plan, my technique was on point, my costume had no mishaps, my hairpiece didn’t fall out - everything went perfectly. As the music came to a stop, I felt a huge wave of excitement. I could hear the screams from the audience, and see the big smiles from the judges, I knew then that I did well.
The reality was that all the solo dancers did well that day; no one had accidents or mistakes (or none that I know of). I sat with my friends on stage during the solo award session and was overjoyed that I got Platinum for my dance (which was the highest award you can get in the competition).
Then the overall Top 10 for Teen Solo announcements began. My heart was pumping so hard. I really hoped I would be in the top 10; but on the other hand, everyone did so well, so it will be hard to get in. They started announcing, 10th place, 9th place, 8th place… top three...my heart sank. My head was spinning from the thought that I didn’t even place. They went on; 2nd place...then 1st place, and announced, “I heard there was a song that was really beautiful,” and I could hear my studio cheering loudly as they knew the MC was describing my dance. He concluded by saying, “Beauty Song! Winner of 13-15 Shining Star Teen Solo National Champion!” I couldn’t believe it, I slowly walked on stage pinching myself thinking that it was all just a dream. My smile spread across my face, the corners of my mouth stretching from ear to ear.
The MC presented to me a three-layer trophy, a plaque, and a hoodie with” Top Soloist” printed on it. He asked me which studio I was from and I shouted with all my pride, “Bing Yang Chinese Performing Arts Center!”