2 members win top honors in L.A.; both groups finish 2nd, advance to nationals
DANVILLE — In the warm-up room, Danville High choral director Kassy Krause delivered a pep talk to her 115 show choir members before their big performances in the FAME regional competition Saturday in Los Angeles.
She told them she sincerely did not care how they would place in the event and only cared that they left the stage knowing they gave their best performance.
"And boy, I am telling you, they absolutely set the stage on fire," Krause said.
The groups got standing ovations and "crazy" applause, she said.
"It was a big, big moment," Krause said.
Both show choir groups — the Contemporaires, an all-female choir, and the Delegation, a mixed choir group — finished second in their respective categories on Saturday, and two Danville High show choir members took the top individual honors. As runners-up, both groups advance to the national competition next month.
Krause said there are six regional events across the United States, and the top two finishers in the all-female category move on to nationals while the top three finishers in the mixed group move on to nationals at the Arie Crown Theater in downtown Chicago on April 26-27.
In addition to the group finishes, DHS student Cheyenne Cota was named the top female performer, and DHS student Christian Cunningham, who won the teen version of "The Voice" reality television show last year, was named the top male performer. Both received scholarships of $10,000 each. The Danville High group was also named Best Stage Crew in the weekend competition that was held at California State University, Los Angeles.
Outside the performing arts center after receiving their awards, choir members had a giant group hug, Krause said.
"It was the best half-hour of my life," said Krause. "So that was a really magical moment."
Krause, the show choir members and their families had been working toward last weekend for one year, raising funds to pay their way and working hard on their performances. They arrived in California on Thursday, Krause said, and hit all the tourist attractions in the time leading up to the competition, which was the last thing on the trip agenda.
She said everything went well, and the students were well-behaved and represented Danville High very proudly. Krause said she's thankful to the students, parents and community for being so supportive of the trip.
On their return Sunday night, Danville police and fire officials met them at the Village Mall and escorted them to Danville High where people had lined the sidewalks, cheering them and waving signs of congratulations.
Krause said they don't know a lot yet about nationals in April, but it's a two-day event, and the first time Danville High will be involved in it.
"It will be so exciting to be there, and we will work our tails off to have a good showing," Krause said.
FAME show choir national championships returning to Chicago
Since 1996 FAME has promoted the Show Choir Cup as the national championship, but it was in 2011 that a complete show choir national championship series was introduced, providing a national championship event for show choirs and a way to qualify for the event.
Show choirs register to participate in one of six regional competitions to determine the national finalists. The finalists then receive a bid for participation in the national championships.
In 2011, nationals took place in Indianapolis where the finalists competed for the title of Show Choir National Champion and the Show Choir Cup.
Last year, Chicago hosted the 2012 National Championships, and this year, the event will again be hosted in Chicago at the Arie Crown Theater.