2023 U.S. Solo Dance Finals by Charlotte Manfield

Hi there! My name is Charlotte Manfield, and I am competing in the Senior Solo Combined event and the International Solo Pattern Dance event in the 2023 National Solo Dance Final in Chicago, Illinois! I started skating when I was four years old and am now a junior in high school. These past three years, I have competed in solo dance, and in the 2021 National Solo Dance Final, I placed second in the Gold Solo Pattern Dance event. My amazing coaching team over at the University of Delaware FSC consists of Suzy Semanick-Schurman, Colin McManus, Anastasia Cannuscio, and Anne Militano. I am so grateful to be competing in my third solo dance nationals this week, and I’m excited to take you all along with me for it!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

This morning, I had to wake up, go to school, and take a quiz in first period. Fortunately, I think I did pretty well on it considering I made sure to prepare for this quiz, and afterwards I attended three more classes and ate lunch with my school friends. They all said goodbye to me for the week and wished me luck with solo dance nationals, which was much appreciated. I then got picked up by my dad who was working from home, and we went to Saladworks, where I ordered a custom favorite of mine. I ate that in the car since we were limited on time and I was only going to be able to do two sessions at my home rink, the University of Delaware Ice Arenas. 

I got to the rink and quickly put on my skates to have my last lesson of the season with my coach, Colin McManus, and we did a free dance runthrough and a Yankee polka runthrough. Both runthroughs felt solid to me, and after his lesson, I did my last two runthroughs, which were my rhythm dance runthrough and my rhumba runthrough. I ended my session with tiny sections of elements I wanted to work on and immediately jumped into the car afterwards as we had to get home to pick up my mom and drive to the airport.

Thankfully, all my packing was done, so leaving the house wasn’t chaotic, giving me time to say bye to my grandmother and to my cats. From there, we drove to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport and waited for our flight. We got some sushi for dinner, which was delicious, but then found out our flight was delayed. It was already past 8 p.m. at this point, and the flight is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, so we were hoping we could board soon. When we were finally able to board our plane, there was barely anyone on it, so everyone got to spread out, which made everything easier. However, the pilots had some routing difficulties as there was a huge storm in our way, and it took about another 30 minutes until the plane took off. We got to the Chicago Midway International Airport at around 11:30 p.m. CST, and as we were leaving the airport, I found one of my coach’s favorite popcorn places but sadly they were closed. It took around an hour to get to our hotel, and when we arrived, I got ready for bed and planned out my day tomorrow as I will only be skating on practice ices and have no events yet. Overall, it was a very tiring travel day, but I am so excited to skate on my practices tomorrow and see my friends again!

~ Charlotte

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Today I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and got ready for my unofficial practice ice. We left the hotel at 9, and I got to the rink ten minutes later, as our hotel is super close in proximity to the rink. At the rink, I was greeted by my friends from my home rink and my other skating friends that I don’t see as often. I was so excited to see everyone, as being able to socialize with friends is one of my favorite aspects of competitions, and I was happy to reconnect with friends who live far from me that I haven’t seen in ages. From there, I checked in with my coaches and put on my skates for my practice ice at 10:00 a.m. in Rink B. For this practice, I worked on parts of my combined programs and did a pattern or two of each of my international patterns. I got off the ice at 10:30, since each practice is 30 minutes, and checked into my events. Here I got the nationals jacket I ordered, my credentials, and a cute little solo dance nationals bag.

We had some time between my practices, so we stopped at this bakery called Tous Les Jours, which was absolutely beautiful, and grabbed some pastries and coffee as breakfast/lunch. Afterwards, we drove back to our hotel, where I hung out with some of my friends who were staying in the same hotel as me, and we had fun chatting and playing games. Everyone had to start leaving for practices, so I went back up to my hotel room and did my competition makeup for my official practice ice. My coaches wanted me in my hair, makeup, and dress for my rhumba to do my official practice ice in, so when I got back to the rink, my friend’s mom helped do my hair, and I changed into my rhumba dress. I put my skates on and went to my second unofficial practice ice at 2:30, which rolled right into my official practice ice at 3, on Rink A, the rink everyone will compete in. 

In the first practice, I set my elements for my combined programs to make sure my patterns felt good. Then on my official practice ice, I did a runthrough of my rhumba, worked on it afterwards, and worked on my polka. Everything felt pretty solid, and I got off the ice for 30 minutes before going back on to Rink B for two unofficial practice ices from 4-5. My friend and I went to Walgreens, where we picked up a bunch of squishmallows as good luck charms, and then we went to a Lululemon outlet 20 minutes away to shop a bit, which was super fun, and eventually we made it back to our hotel. For dinner, we ubered Panera to the hotel, where I got a Fuji apple salad with chicken, and then I showered and got ready for bed. Then I went through my schedule for tomorrow with my parents to sort out driving, events, and everything else. I am so happy to be here at nationals, and I’m incredibly excited to compete my international solo patterns tomorrow!

~ Charlotte

Thursday, September 14, 2023

I started off today by waking up at 9, getting ready, and going to the breakfast provided by our hotel for everyone who was part of the national solo dance final. I got some eggs and french toast, and while I was eating, I ran into a friend from my rink. We ate together until she had to leave for practice ice, and so I went back upstairs to grab the rest of my things I needed from our room. My parents and I then left for the rink and got there at around 10:30 to watch some of my friends compete.

At around 11:30 I started putting on my skates to get on an unofficial practice ice on Rink B at 11:45. For this 30 minute slot, I worked on my free dance elements, then got off the ice for a small break before returning to practice again, this time for my rhythm dance elements at 12:30. At 1, I took my skates off, watched a couple of my friends, and left the rink with my parents to go purchase some more food from Tous Les Jours for lunch since the pastries there the day before were amazing. I got a soft strawberry bread and a red bean bun, which were so good and made for a nice quick lunch in between everything else we were doing. I then went back to the hotel to get my dresses and makeup before going back to the rink and doing two more practice ices consecutively from 4:20-5:20. After my practices, my friend’s mom at 5:30 helped do my hair again, as she is absolutely phenomenal at it. At 6, I did my makeup and put on my rhumba dress, then put in my airpods to listen to music and warm up before my event started at 7:15. 

For rhumba, I was last to skate in the third warm up group, so I had some time to go through the program off-ice and really think about what I needed to do with my keypoints as well as the whole of the program itself. When the second warm up group started their 3 minute warm up, I laced my skates, taped my laces, and stopped my music in order to focus on the program ahead. On my group’s warm up, I was able to do three patterns of rhumba and felt good about them. I got off the ice, waited until it was my time to compete, and when my name was eventually called, I could hear all my friends cheering up in the stands, and it made me feel grateful for the amazing support group I have. And though I started my program out a little shaky, my feet got under me towards the middle of it, and I finished off my rhumba strong and felt good about what I had just put out there. I came off the ice to my coaches, who were also happy with how I did, and then I immediately ran to take my skates off and switch dresses and hair for my next international pattern, the Yankee polka. 

By now, it was 9:30 and I was to compete third in the second warm-up so again, I did a runthrough of my program off-ice before tying and taping up my skates. For this 3 minute warm up, I did my first half of polka and followed it up with my second half, our variation portion of the dance. Everything felt great, and when I went out to compete, I honestly had such a fun time performing it, and afterward, I came off the ice to open arms from my coaches and smiles all around. I felt good with the programs I had just competed in, and when the overall scores came out, I had achieved 5th in the nation for international patterns. I am very happy with how I did, as being in the top five was one of my goals for this event, and I got pictures with my coaches, Suzy Semanick-Schurman and Anastasia Cannuscio, to end out the night. We got back to our hotel at around 10:30, and I made sure to review my schedule for tomorrow to smooth out any complications before getting ready to go to sleep. The first day of events went so well, and I’m so excited to compete my senior solo rhythm dance tomorrow!

~ Charlotte

Friday, September 15, 2023

Today is my rhythm dance day! I woke up at 7:30 and left for Tous Les Jours at 9 to grab breakfast. We got to the rink around 9:30, and I got in my hair and base makeup for my official practice ices. My first one was from 10:50-11:20, in which my free dance was played, and so I did all but two of my elements with my music. I used the remaining time to work on free dance elements and then got off the ice to watch some of my friends in my 30 minute break. Then, I had another official practice ice for my rhythm dance from 11:50-12:20 where I did three out of five of my rhythm elements and again spent the remaining time I had to refine parts of the program.

After my practices, I got changed into my rhythm dance dress and did the rest of my makeup, as my event was starting at 1:20. I was skating last in my event, so I was in the third warm up group, and while I waited to put my skates on, I listened to music and ran through my rhythm dance off ice. There was an ice cut in between the second and third warm up groups, so I put my skates on then and went out to my five minute warm up when the zamboni got off the ice. The five minute warmup felt solid, and when I finally got on the ice to compete, I felt great. My rhythm dance ended up being a strong performance, and I was so happy with it. The amount of work I put into it really showed, and I ended up fifth after rhythm. I’m so grateful to have been able to put that program out there at nationals, and my coaches were so proud of me.

Since I didn’t have any other practices or events, my parents took me to the biggest Lululemon in the world in Chicago, Illinois, about an hour away. It was so stunning there, and they had their own cafe (where we got some smoothies), a dance studio, and a study area. While in Chicago, we walked around the city and visited some beautiful sights. When we started to drive out of Chicago at 6 p.m., we began to hear tons of live music and see parties and fireworks for people starting to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, which is tomorrow. Then we got some dinner at Noodles & Co. around 8 and headed back to our hotel, where I got ready for bed and double-checked my schedule for tomorrow. Overall, it was an amazing day, and I’m excited for tomorrow’s last event to end out my season!

~ Charlotte


Saturday, September 16, 2023

It’s free dance day! Since I didn’t have any early practices, I got to sleep in until 9:30. I felt well rested, and my parents and I got ready and left at 10:30 to go get food from Tous Les Jours yet again. After eating, we got Starbucks and arrived at the rink at 12. When I was able to set all my stuff down, I gave my coaches the extra food and drinks we had gotten for them. Then I watched some events with my friends and warmed up before getting on my 1:10 unofficial practice ice. We used this practice to go through all the individual free dance elements, and after doing so, I got off the ice at 1:40.

Once I took my skates off, we headed back to our hotel to relax for a bit. While there, I watched some YouTube, talked to my school friends, and got my dress together as well as my hair and makeup products. At around 4, we went back to the rink with all our stuff and watched some of my friends compete until 5. I started doing my makeup then, and my friend’s mom began doing my hair at the same time so we could be efficient with it. It was around 6 at this point and so I just continued watching until our senior solo combined event started at 7 p.m. I was in the last warm up group again, but this time I skated second in my warmup so I took the extra time I had and used it to touch up my makeup and hair as well as run through the program off ice like I normally do before my event.

There was another ice cut in between the second and third warm up groups so I listened to a bunch of my favorite songs to pass the time and got my skates on during the 10 minute ice resurfacing slot. Once taped up, I went out on my five-minute warm up and got into my edges. I stepped out on the ice for my program and had fun with it, and though I messed up my one second twizzle that cost me some points, I was overall so extremely proud of what I had put out at nationals and, honestly, I was proud of how I had performed throughout the entire season. After the free dance, I ended up getting 8th overall in senior solo combined, which is such an improvement for me from last year and I was so pleased to do so well. I took a bunch of pictures with friends and family at the rink to end my night and went back to the hotel to get some food and get ready for bed as we have an early flight tomorrow morning. Today’s last day of my season was so incredibly meaningful to me and I am so grateful to have such an amazing support group by my side!

~ Charlotte

Sunday, September 17, 2023

We woke up super early this morning at 4:30 a.m. and had to leave our hotel at 5:30 to get to the Chicago Midway International Airport, which was an hour away. Our flight was at 8:15 and we luckily got to the airport a good way ahead of time at 6:30, so we weren’t rushing to get to our gate and had time to get some Starbucks coffee. We chilled out at our gate for about an hour, during which time I watched some Netflix and downloaded movies for the flight, and then we proceeded to board our plane home. Though I thought I’d be awake and watching shows for our two-and-a-half-hour flight, I actually fell asleep as soon as our plane took off and woke up again when we had gotten back to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

After getting off the plane, we made a stop at Starbucks again for some coffee and got on our shuttle that took us to our car. Then we drove an hour and finally got back to our house at 1 p.m. I had missed my grandma and my cats while I was away and was so happy to see them again. For the remainder of this chilly, rainy day, I sat down for a couple of hours and began to catch up on the schoolwork I missed. My parents made a very nice dinner for our family to celebrate my performances at nationals and afterwards I got ready to go to sleep early since I was so tired. Nationals this year was so amazing, and it was such an honor to be able to compete in two events. I am so grateful for this to have been my third nationals, and I really appreciate all my friends, family, and coaches who helped me get here. See you next season!

~ Charlotte