Choirs offer extravaganza of song and dance

EMMETSBURG – For any member of the St.Edmond Gael Show Choir that might have been a little nervous before their performance Saturday afternoon at the 19th annual Emmetsburg “Extravaganza” Invitational Show Choir Contest, the group’s accompanist, Nancy Blair, had a story from her own time on stage to share.

“I once kicked a mike out into the audience,” she said.

Of course, no such mishap occurred once the students took the stage at Emmetsburg High School; they sang and danced to a four-song medley that featured a spectrum of artists.

“You Better Shop Around” is from Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, “Dancing Through Life” is from the musical “Wicked,” “Dust in the Wind” by the rock group Kansas, and then there was Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”

All that won them fourth place.

Choir director Nicole Brown was proud of her students’ performance.

“I think it went well,” she said. “There was lots of energy.”

Judges look for precision in the choreography, a nice vocal tone and good dynamics, she said. They also look for an intangible trait.

“They want to see the kids having fun,” she said.

Julia Fletcher, a sophomore, enjoyed performing and kept her eye on the future.

“I think it went pretty good,” she said. “We still have room for improvement.”

After each performance, the choirs get feedback from one of the judges.

“It’s really useful,” she said.

For Allie Oberg, a senior, Saturday was her last show choir competition.

“I’m going to miss everyone,” she said. “It’s been a great experience.”

For many of the students, helpful and supportive parents have been an important part of their participation. Julia Fletcher said they’ve also been her alarm clock.

“If it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t have made it half the time,” she said.

That’s because the students practice in the morning before school.

The Pocahontas Area Showstoppers also took part in Saturday’s competition.

Choir Director Andrea Christians was all smiles after her group’s performance and judge’s feedback.

“They did really well,” she said. “I was proud of their energy.”

The choir has been fine tuning several aspects of its performance – and the judges took notice.

“She complimented us on a lot we’ve been working to correct,” she said.

That judge, Anne Chapman, of Fort Madison, is a professional choreographer. She gravitated toward a career in music and performance naturally, she said.

“Both my parents were music teachers,” she said. “That’s what I grew up with.”

Chapman looks for uniformity, both in movement and sound.

“This is a unique contest,” she said. “Vocals and choreography are each given equal weight.”

A large choir contest can’t be held without dozens of volunteers. Moira Hopkins and Stacie Smith traveled along with the Pocahontas Area Showstoppers to offer aide and assistance.

“We wake them up in the morning,” Smith said. “And we pin dresses.”