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  • Lauren Nairne

Evolution National Finals Cancelled

What a breath of fresh COVID safe air… until it wasn’t.

Let me start by saying that I wrote this on day 2. One day before the abrupt closure of the Evolution National finals and halfway through the scheduled competition.

From the 5th – 9th Evolution, National Finals was scheduled to be held in the Royal Pines Convention centre on the Gold Coast.

Strangely so much of it felt normal (in the beginning). The buzz was the same, the costumes were just as sparkly, the rush between numbers was the same and I loved every minute of it.

The Royal Pines staff all wore masks, seats were separated, and hand sanitiser kept running out left right and centre but overall, you wouldn’t know anything different… until the number on zoom appeared.

Now before I chat about that, let me first start by saying how incredibly proud of Evolution I am that all of those people who at the last minute due to border closures were able to compete for their solos in any capacity.

After months of rehearsals and new costumes purchased to have their trips cancelled due to COVID at the last minute would have been so disappointing. Evolution acted so quickly and once a few kinks were ironed out I was so impressed with how the interstate competitors were run.

Interstate competitors who were forbidden to travel set up Zoom in their studios and their day ran exactly as it would here. They were in full costume, full make-up and most importantly they performed at exactly the same time they would if they were here.

So, if the dance was number 12 and 11 and 13 were physically at the comp and 11 was at their studio 2 states away, they would run in order and we would watch 11 on stage, 12 on the big screen and 13 on stage.

Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect. The camera was shaky, the quality wasn’t great and because of that in most cases you couldn’t see their face, but to be honest, it was still heartwarming, it was lovely to know that as a community we can do this, we can make it happen and we will survive.

It was joyful. Until the 8th of January when greater Brisbane was ordered to lockdown due to a small COVID-19 outbreak and as a result Evolution was forced to close on what was scheduled to be the 2 biggest days of competition.

What happened next was admirable. EVERYONE worked incredibly hard to get as many routines on as possible. Troupes had flown in from interstate and most hadn’t even stepped foot on the stage before the shutdown was ordered.

It was chaos, but somehow it was a calm chaos, the joy turned to sadness. But everyone did what they needed to do. Solos were cancelled to make way for as many troupes to compete as possible. 1 stage was turned into a ‘zoom’ stage and although it may have been easy to push the interstate routines aside Evolution did an admirable job in ensuring as many could compete as possible.

And then at 5 pm, it all ended… the doors were locked. And that was that.

I couldn’t believe it, it happened in what felt like 5 minutes and even though we were nowhere near the greater Brisbane area we were still greatly affected.

Throughout the whole ordeal, Hope, Aaron and their incredible team were amazing. They stayed calm, spoke with confidence and never hid behind anything other than the truth. They moved mountains to get as many kids on that stage as possible. They cried, they hugged, and they assured people that any concerns would be dealt with once the lockdown was over and they could regain their thoughts.

I watched them with admiration.

I also watched other parents, dance teachers and dancers buzzing around the foyer doing everything they could to move quickly through routines, wait patiently in the wings and get on with the job at hand.

It’s also important to acknowledge that there were 5 businesses who were exhibiting in the foyer who also had to pack quickly, and with the stock some of those stalls had, that wasn’t a quick or easy process.

This year there were the usual suspects. I loved chatting to them all and some were VERY VERY busy. Especially on the first day. I think without many eisteddfods this year, people have missed their spending sprees. 🙂

Businesses That Were at Evolution National Finals 2021 Included

AinslieWear Australia & New Zealand

Dance Desire

Tutu For You

Cosi G

Dance Store

Congratulations to each and every competitor. To every parent and teacher who made it happen and to Hope and her team who made it all possible, until it wasn’t possible anymore. I hope that the events of 2021 don’t deter people from coming to compete again. Most of all I hope courageous and determined event organisers like Hope and her team will continue to have the courage to hold events for our dancers despite the looming COVID-19.

Onward and upward in 2021, we will dance!

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