Scholastic Open Finals Review

April 10, 2010
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Scholastic Open

by Michael Reed

Look out Scholastic World Class in 2011, here comes West Johnston (NC) (Gold Medal- 97.05)! “Crossing Over” was a thrill ride of daredevil equipment work, featuring a long metal beam suspended ten feet off the ground which spanned from corner to corner in what was the most vertical show of the weekend. A daring young lady slowly trod across the beam as the show progressed, undeterred by the high rifle and saber tosses soaring above her head from below. Safely reaching the other end, she climbed down as the group perfectly executed a unison toss on deep red flags, raising her arms in victory after tempting fate and triumphing over it.

Tarpon Springs (FL) (Silver Medal- 96.0) presented Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre American classic “The Raven”. Costumed in feathered black outfits, the members who tormented the poem’s protagonist moved across the floor as a malevolent flock, earning the high Ensemble caption score. The guard utilized twelve doors, painted to blend in with the photo of a raven on their floor. When the tension peaked, the entire floor was covered in orange with an inspired flag feature to an unearthly screech of the ebony bird. As the narrator descended into madness, the group disappeared underneath the doors which were lying on the tarp.

While springtime arrived in the Midwest weeks ago, Mission Viejo (CA) (Bronze Medal- 94.7) brought a January chill into the arena, performing one of the most talked about shows of the weekend with “A Winter’s Weighted Path.” A large, heavy wooden crate served as the centerpiece of the program. The guard surrounded the crate, intently looking at it, climbing on it, and at times seeming in both fear and awe of it. As the show progressed, a member struggled to drag it across a path on the floor. The contents of the crate were never revealed, leaving the viewer to ponder what secret burdens it contained.

Lake Central (IN) (4th- 92.8) provided rays of light for a fallen world with “Apparitions of Hope”. A run-down church with a cracked stone tile floor and a broken stained-glass window was the setting for the show. At the beginning, the members were clad in grey like cold, emotionless spirits. The mood brightened with the pastoral choral soundtrack, with more and more color appearing on the silks and costumes as if the shattered window was reforming before our eyes. At the powerful ending, the lost souls found their way home, passing through the window and into eternity.

Norwin (PA) (5th- 92.35) drew “oohs” and “aahs” with a surprise ending of “This He Said to Me”. Set on a marble floor with interlocking male/female symbols (the interlocking part also on the silks), and a winged male statue seated on a pedestal, the guard created an ancient Greek feel as the lyrics described a man traveling from a far away land to find love. As the program drew to its conclusion, suddenly the statue stood up, surprising the audience. He picked the object of his affection up and carried her in his arms as the music faded.

Crestview (FL) (6th- 90.75) presented “To Make You Feel My Love”. Opening with a biblical quote about love, the group achieved what most designers strive for: pulling out every ounce of feeling from the music and reaching the audience with it. As the mood grew more passionate, the tosses grew higher and the movement was quicker until the soundtrack suddenly stopped and the group performed a silent flag feature with thousands of people watching in rapt attention, the only audible being the swoosh of the silks slicing through the air.

Santaluces (FL) (7th- 90.4) conveyed the sadness one feels at the impending end of a relationship with the haunting “Two Steps” by Patti Labelle. Images of raindrops on a window on their tarp combined with a blue and white palate set the tone, as the young women skillfully mastered this emotion-packed program. The closing feature on maroon flags was worth the price of admission, as the brilliance of the performance matched the musicality of the design, culminating with a unison toss that was flawless in its execution.

King Philip Regional (MA) (T-8th - 87.95) brought us to a blossoming garden with “The Awakening”. Performed to Bernstein’s “Make our Garden Grow”, the production was set on a painted green floor complete with flower beds. As the aria reached its glorious climax, nature’s flora came out of wintertime hibernation with vivid color appearing in the flags. The crowd rose to their feet at the ending as a long floral banner was unfurled, and large brightly colored umbrellas opened, blooming into bright wildflowers.

Wakefield- Maroon (NC) (T 8th- 87.95) took a Shakespearean masterpiece and brought the spectators to tears with the moving “Juliet”. The play has inspired countless actors and actresses throughout the centuries, and this talented group from the Tar Heel State adapted it for the gym floor set to “Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt. The program focused on the grief felt by Romeo as his love lay motionless. As his mourning reached its zenith, he drank poison, hoping his sorrow would end.

Kokomo (IN) (10th- 87.2) was poetry in motion with “Ave Maria” by Caccini Guilio. The ethereal performance on a brown and tan diamond checkerboard floor highlighted the unit’s outstanding movement skills. The lyrical string soundtrack allowed the group to float around the floor effortlessly like as if we were watching a professional ballet troupe. The production ended quietly as it began, with the guard in a single diagonal line that was a mirror image of their opening form.

Rancho Cucamonga (CA) (11th- 86.05) created a piece of modern performance art with “Cirque d’quilibre”. Beginning in the corner of the floor in statuesque poses, the ladies moved with amazing agility. The group earned lots of applause during a memorable section when they held extended poses on one leg while spinning rifles in unison. The ensemble displayed an amazing sense of body control throughout, gracefully holding acrobatic poses without flinching a muscle.

Greenfield Central (IN) (12th- 85.65) turned up the heat with their Blue-hot production, “Off the Cuff,” performed to the big band strains of “Images” by Phil Woods. The show was a high-octane spectacle that made one breathless just watching it. The driving jazz beat got the crowd’s toes tapping as talented members threw tosses that seemed as though they were going to hit the arena scoreboard, confidently ending the program by raising the white cuffs on their arms to the audience.

Anyone who has visited a beautiful place but longed for family or friends to join them could appreciate Byrnes (SC) (13th- 84.65). “Wish You Were Here” was set on a large post card of a sunset on an island paradise. Costumed as mail carriers, and with mailboxes positioned around the floor, the unit spun and moved their way into our hearts. At the conclusion, a portion of the tarp was pulled back to reveal an envelope addressed to loved ones back home.

Performing in front of a 15-foot tall stained glass window,Eastlake (CA) (14th- 82.25) took us inside “The Cathedral.” Monks in burgundy hooded robes appeared throughout the program, at first looking reverently at the cross on the window, then going about their liturgical business as the guard performed. The Gregorian chant soundtrack filled up the cavernous UD Arena, giving an atmosphere of a centuries-old gothic European house of worship.

The term “New World Order” became popularized during the Desert Storm era of the early ‘90s.Orchard Park (NY) (15th- 81.65) explored the darker implications of its meaning for society. The program juxtaposed its sinister potential with the innocent music of Aaron Copland. The mood grew agitated to the booming voice of President Bush (41) announcing the new order of things was at hand. 

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