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The Totino-Grace "Company of Singers" perform their opening number, "Promise", at the Linn-Mar Supernova, from Fridley, Minnesota, USA

A Show Choir (originally known as a "swing choir") is a group of people who combine choral singing with dance, sometimes within the context of a specific idea or story.

Location[edit]

Show choir is primarily a high school activity based in the United States, concentrated in the Midwest, but also beginning to become popular in Canada as well. It is a continually evolving art form, and show choir is regularly expanding to new areas. Many middle schools, junior high schools, and some colleges now have their own show choirs as well.

Technical aspect[edit]

While there is no standard requirement for the number of performers, show choirs typically contain between 30 and 60 singer/dancers.

Show choirs traditionally wear a costume, though the definition of what is considered a costume in show choir is very broad and ranges from jeans and a t-shirt to extravagant period costumes or flashy dance-wear. It can be very conservative (such as tuxedos and ball gowns) or very edgy (such as modern or revealing clothing). Additionally, many larger show choirs include two or more costumes in their show. Participants typically wear stage makeup and shoes conducive to dancing (often "character shoes"). From the costumes to the stage makeup, show choir members often look uniform during most shows.

Shepherd Hill Regional High School's Show Choir "Fantasy" performing with Grecian costumes in 2014

The choir usually has a backup band (or "combo," if it includes horns) providing instrumental music to complement the voices. The instrumentation varies from song to song, but a common show choir band consists of guitar, bass, drums, trumpets, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, piano, and synthesizer. Many larger show choirs typically have a larger combo to accompany them. The band is usually out of sight, however some band members have come out on stage to be featured during the show.

Competitions[edit]

This is an example of a show choir competition program from Totino-Grace's Spectacular competition.

Many show choirs participate in competitions, sometimes called "invitationals" (though most are not invitation-only events). These competitions are often held at the high school where the "host group" attends, though some events are held at auditoriums or other facilities that can accommodate larger crowds and provide better acoustic performance.

Competitions can be as small as a showcase of a few groups from the immediate geographic area or they can feature many groups from multiple states. Because of the vast difference in sizes of the competitions, they can last a single afternoon or span an entire weekend. Competitions may separate competing choirs into different divisions. These divisions are often determined by age, skill level, size of the school or choir, and/or gender of the participants. The different divisions may take place at a different time, day, or at a different location or venue, though usually within the same school or close geographic area. There are three main divisions: Varsity, Unisex, and Prep.

Many competitions include a preliminary round and a finals found. The finals round commences after the preliminary awards are complete, where the top groups perform again in order to compete for the title of Grand Champion of the contest. The number of performing groups in the finals round is up to the hosting school, but typically 5-6 choirs participate. Hosting schools do not compete in the competition for ethical purposes. Those groups are sometimes given the opportunity to take suggestions from the judges made during the preliminary round and make adjustments to their finals performance in order to earn a better score.

Characteristics of a performance[edit]

Most show choir "shows" or "sets" consist of a variety of songs, often including several choreographed, fast-paced pieces and one slower piece performed with limited or no choreography. This slower number—usually a ballad—exists primarily to showcase the ensemble's singing ability. In California, it is a requirement that at least one minute of any one set be sung a cappella (it is usually one full song in the set), though this is not a standard in the rest of the country. More often than not, the a cappella selection is also the ballad, as it is much easier to sing unaccompanied while holding relatively still. In the Midwest, it is becoming popular to set one song aside as a "novelty" piece, designed to make the audience laugh. "Concept" or "story" shows that unify all of the songs together in a common theme are becoming more popular across the country, especially in California.

Within a song, vocal lines typically alternate between unison or octave singing, and two-or-more-part polyphonic harmony. Songs are chosen, adapted, and arranged from a variety of sources including popular music, jazz standards, and Broadway musicals, but rarely make use of classical music. Original music has also been performed by a small number of groups. Additionally, there is often at least one solo in each performance by a standout singer in the group.

Competitive performance sets range in length, but are usually timed to total between fifteen and twenty minutes. Shows generally consist of, but are not limited to, approximately five songs.

Commitment[edit]

For many high school students, show choir is a large commitment that takes over the good part of a school year. For some, show choir is part of the school curriculum and is a class taught during the day. For others, it is an extra curricular activity that requires practice to take place before or after school. Practices may begin as early as the summer for some, while other choirs don’t start until much later. The competitive season takes place from January until late April, with competitions held across the country every weekend during that time.

Benefits[edit]

Show choir, while time consuming, can be rich with rewards. Being a part of a show choir promotes teamwork and healthy competition. The choir must work together in order to compete against other choirs with similar skill sets. Show choir also promotes staying active and fit, as vigorous dancing and singing simultaneously requires energy and coordination as well as a maintaining a healthy body.

See also[edit]

A fine resource for current Show Choir events

The official website for FAME Show Choir events


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Show_choir — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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KCRG

KCRG
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 05:11:15 -0700

CEDAR RAPIDS - Prairie High School's Varsity Show Choir, The Ambassadors, took home top honors at FAME Orlando this week. The competition is a qualifier for the National Show Choir Championships in Chicago next month. The group arrived back in ...

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:41:15 -0700

The Joliet Central High School Show Choir "Show Steelers" recently placed 3rd out of nine choirs at the Herscher Swing Singsation Invitational and 7th out of nine choirs at the Springfield Southeast High School "Capital City Explosion." "Based on the ...

La Crosse Tribune

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Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:03:45 -0700

Chance Waters performs his solo during the Onalaska High School Hilltoppers show choir performance at Saturday's Grand River National Show Choir Invitational at La Crosse Central High School. The Hilltoppers won grand champion honors, the fourth time ...

Augusta Free Press

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Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:18:45 -0700

Stuarts Draft High School_March 20 (1) Members of Stuarts Draft High School Show Choir became stars of their own Disney show on March 20 when they entertained resort guests at Waterside Stage at Downtown Disney. The group traveled from Stuarts ...
 
New Haven Register
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 09:41:15 -0700

Show Choir Competition to raise voices at Shubert Theatre Thursday. By Joe Amarante, New Haven Register. Posted: 03/25/15, 12:47 PM EDT | Updated: 2 hrs ago. # Comments. NEW HAVEN >> Young vocal groups will own the Shubert stage Thursday.
 
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Thu, 19 Mar 2015 22:03:45 -0700

Saturday's show choir competition gets started at 9:15 a.m. and will feature performances by OHS Express (10:45 a.m.), Logan's Class Act (1 p.m.), the Hilltoppers (2:45 p.m.) and Central's Grand Central Station (exhibition performance at 4:45 p.m.).

WICS-TV

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Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:41:46 -0700

The competition includes a weekend in Nashville and the choir has been fundraising for this event since last summer. Members say this is the biggest competition they have ever competed in and want to show the country what Chatham show choir kids can do ...

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Tue, 24 Mar 2015 09:29:16 -0700

The Award Winning Mitchell High School Friend De Coup Show Choir invites to take in the music of the movies! 3 brand new sets of movie songs! Special solo, duet and small group performances of cinema's biggest hits! We'll close out our show with FDC's ...
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