Show Choir Gets Weird! (Science)

Show Choir Gets Weird! (Science)

Madeline Frambes, editor in chief, staff writer

“Let’s dance!”  yells choreographer Scott Jones, and soon the bustle of close to thirty bodies are on stage dancing and singing. This is show choir, one of three choirs offered at Jonathan Alder. The choir combines dancing and singing into one 25 minute performance, which is taken across Ohio to compete against other choirs.

A major factor of show choir is the show’s theme; it decides the costuming and the songs you’re able to choose from to perform. “Weird Science is the theme of the show this year,” Jonathan Alder’s show choir choreographer Scott Jones says. “We figured it out probably the last week of school last year and started picking songs all through summer, listened to all kinds of different stuff..” The show this year follows the antics of a laboratory and the chaos of radioactivity, co-show choir president Rebekah White says. “It’s the most theatrical show choir show I’ve ever been in!”

The choir practices every Tuesday and Thursday for three hours beginning at the start of the school year up until competition season, where it kicks into high gear. “Normally we get there at six and we have a few stragglers, and then around six-fifteen Scott will be like ‘Let’s Dance!’ and it’ll take five minutes to get everyone on stage and about six-thirty we’re rolling,” co show choir president and dance caption Selina Jones says. ”Usually, we’re learning a dance and then we’ll run through the show and have a water break, and that’s always interesting. Then we’ll go back and dance some more, and be done by nine.” 

Each rehearsal, there is a common goal the choir is trying to achieve. According to the choir director Mr. Mayes, “We have goals that we go over at the beginning of the practice and throughout the practice we work on achieving those goals. Those can be something like singing out, or singing with expression, or something like that… They can be dance related, but most of the time goals come down to running what we have of the show.”

There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that makes a performance that must be practiced each night: “A normal practice consists of Scott Jones screaming at the top of his lungs,” Mr. Jones says sarcastically, “running through numbers, teaching choreography, answering questions, putting choreography with music, putting crew with choreography and music, putting band with choreography, crew, and music. Over and over and over.”

Since dancing is such a crucial part of show choir, many wonder if they must be a dancer to be in the group. “You do not have to be a dancer to be in show choir: it’s a great perk,” says Mr. Jones, “but there are singers that don’t dance and there are dancers that don’t sing; there are and have been people who aren’t good at either one of those, but with everybody around they’re part of the group…that one person may not be the best at either one but it molds the rest of the group together.” 

Mr. Mayes adds that you don’t have to be perfect to be a part of the group: “The cool thing about it is we teach you how to dance, we teach you how to sing, it’s not so much like you have to be able to do all this stuff day one, it’s just like any other sport; you get better and better and you condition.”

This past year, the state of Ohio passed legislation that now counts show choir as a P.E. credit towards your high school graduation, but some are still debating whether it is really a sport. “When you break down a sport, it’s about getting points and facing other teams and going one on one with other teams,” Mr. Mayes says. ”It’s more of a sport in terms of gymnastics is a sport, in that gymnastics…you get all of these points for very stylistic things…we’re no different from gymnastics. If you talk to any of the people who are in show choir it takes a ton of conditioning to be able to dance for three hours a night. The week before the competition we dance for a total of 20 hours in that one week.” 

Although the faculty are very set on show choir being a sport, some students disagree. “I mean I’m sore a lot of the time, and it’s definitely cut me in shape,” says Jones. “I don’t do cheer anymore, and I think I look okay, but it’s not as physically demanding as some other sports.” 

In contrast, there is still stong support of it counting for a P.E. credit. “Show choir is not really a ‘sport’ but I think it still has a heavy emphasis on team values,” says White. “It should be counted as a P.E. credit! I feel very strongly about that!”

Many theatre kids refer to tech week as Hell Week, because of the high stress and lack of sleep resulting from running through the show multiple times. Show choir is not immune to this and has a hell week “when we have a competition coming up that weekend or the following weekend,” says Jones. “So we’re going to have rehearsal every single night to make sure the show is ready to go.” 

Mr Jones explains hell week as being, “Exactly what it says–Hell week, which we’re in right now for two weeks… a week from tomorrow we perform for family and friends and it’s crazy. It is Hell.”

Although running through the show hundreds of times may seem like Hell, it benefits the overall performance and makes it ready to compete. “The competitions are probably my favorite part of high school!” says White. “I’ve never had that much fun being part of a team. It’s amazing being surrounded by other choirs and seeing the shows that they’ve worked so hard to prepare.” 

All the glitz and glam of performing may seem like fun, but it is a very high stress event: “The competitions are hectic,” says Mr. Mayes, “they are the most hectic thing that we do. The Show Choir community is wonderful but they can also be kind of cut-throat and ya know they’re a very gossipy community as well. Depending on the competition, sometimes they’re really organized and really awesome, and sometimes they’re really not.” 

The stress and anxiety of performing may seem too much for some, but finally showing the world what you’ve been working on for months and are proud of makes it all worth it. “It’s about putting your art out there,” says Mr. Mayes, “and enjoying what everyone else is putting out there.“

When asked what they’d like to see for the future of show choir some answered with physical or measurable achievements such as “a performing arts venue here at Jonathan Alder,” says Mr. Jones, “so we can better improve Show Choir, and the choirs, and the band; to give us our [separate] performance space.”

 Surprisingly, most answered unmeasurable goals. “I hope to see a really strong family bond come out of it,” says Jones, “[So] it’s not just one or the other, [usually there is a] really strong [bond] and not winning, or winning but nobody likes each other.”

Everyone has their own reason for auditioning for show choir, but White says she joined because of her early experiences with the show choir in elementary school: “When I was younger and they would come to our school, I admired them so much. If even just one elementary kid looks up to me the same way I looked up to those before me, I will be so fulfilled. Also, they would always come on the week of my birthday and I felt like it was just for me!” 

Jones joined for similar reasons. “I remember them [when] I was in Cannan and I remember the show choir coming and it just blew my mind,” says Jones, “then I was in eighth grade…Mrs. Gorman, I was a bad kid eighth-grade year, she came up to me and she was like ‘I want you to do show choir next year, and I want you to get your stuff figured out’ is basically what she said, so I did show choir.” 

Auditions for the group consist of some dancing and singing. “[They] are usually held in January and consist of learning a short dance and doing it for Scott and Mayes,” says White. “Usually everyone’s dancing on that day is a little sloppy but as long as you smile through it you have a chance!” 

This year’s competition season is fast approaching and many show choir students are looking forward to performing this year’s show. “I’m excited to see how everybody reacts this year; it’ll be funny,” says Jones. 

This show is different than any show ever put on by our choir before. Mr. Mayes says, “I want people to know that [the choir] put on the best possible show. I want to see it grow… we’re [currently] in the process of growing; this is the most complex, most expensive most hard working show we’ve ever put on. It has four costume changes, I don’t know how many that have more than two.” 

While competitions aren’t usually local, the group puts on a performance for friends and family at the high school. “Friends and Family night is [this] Wednesday: January 29th, at 8pm,” says White, “come watch your friends dance and sing!”