Tuesday, March 28, 2023

In the Middle of Land

There's a reason it's called Midland...it really is just smack dab in the middle of a whole lotta land. 

Midland wasn't on my Texas Bucket List, but at the beginning of spring break we made the trek to this west Texas town anyway.

We visited Midland to attend the Regional Dance America RDA/Southwest Festival with Hallie's ballet company, Encore. This was Encore's first festival, and our (my and Hallie's, as well as most dancers and moms from our studio) first dance convention/conference other than Dance Revolution, which we attended when Hallie was a member of Mini AbunDance and Apprentice AbunDance. The two experiences were completely different in almost every possible way, and aside from the distance we had to travel and the quality of our hotel, RDA came out on top over and over again. The event was extremely well organized, the teachers and classes were exceptional, and the performances were beautifully adjudicated. We can't wait to attend again next year!*

A few pics from classes, with teachers, and with their fellow Encore members. Hallie and Avery were in the same group, so in addition to staying together, they danced together all day every day. The two teachers pictured below were two of my favorites: Nathalie Marrable for musical theatre and Lindsey Donnell for pointe. (I liked almost every teacher I watched, listened to, etc. but wasn't able to take pictures of the girls with all of them.)

And a few pictures from when "we" took breaks from dancing...breaks that were mainly to eat and watch dancing. The final show and gala were Hallie's first semi-formal events, and gave me a glimpse into what high school dances will be like in just a few short months.

After many years of rooming with our friends Avery and Jenn
at dance events, we have it down. That includes the late-night
delirium, which ALWAYS sets in at least once.

Finishing off the end of Kara's birthday
cake. Don't judge - we had no plates. 

An afternoon field trip to the nitrogen ice cream shop.

But Midland...

The people in Midland - from the staff at our hotel, to those affiliated with RDA and the facilities RDA occupied, to restaurant/bar/coffee shop employees - were pleasant and helpful. And the facilities we utilized for RDA, which included a nearly-new convention center and its grounds as well as a theater between Midland and Odessa, were lovely and well-suited for our needs. Our hotel, on the other hand, was not lovely or well-suited for our needs. I can't even begin to list all of the things that went wrong with our room and/or the rooms of the other dancers/moms in our group, but just off the top of my head: multiple rooms flooded; multiple toilets and sinks clogged; the elevators only worked about half of the time; there weren't enough towels, toiletries, and hair dryers to supply all of the guests in all of the rooms; and we had both a broken refrigerator and a broken headboard. Simply put, there wasn't a single hotel area or department - front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, restaurant, bar, coffee shop - that was prepared in terms of staffing or supplies to host this festival's dancers. I'm not going to share the name of the hotel, but I certainly wouldn't stay there again.

When I said Midland is in the middle of nowhere, I truly mean it's in the middle of nowhere. We found a few diamonds in the rough - the grounds around the convention center, like I mentioned above, as well as a pizza place with amazing drinks, a delicious Mexican restaurant, the public library, the Bush family home, and lots of pretty murals - but otherwise, Midland appeared flat, brown, and dusty as far as the eye could see. (And because there isn't anything to break the wind, trash blows and collects in unfortunate and very visible places.) Both Hallie and I remarked, as we drove though College Station on our way home, how lush and green everything looked, and how even though College Station's trees and grass aren't our favorites (we're partial to the taller trees and softer grass found in the midwest), at least we have trees and grass - and lots of both - here. 

We may never return to Midland, but we'll always remember our visit...with disfavor for the terrain and our hotel but a fondness for the people and our first festival experience.

*Next year's festival is national, rather than regional, and will be held at a gorgeous hotel and convention center...on the beach...in Daytona. 

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