PIO Finals Recap

By Kathryn Hardison

The road to finals was long and hard for the 35 independent open groups that competed. Here’s the 15 groups that performed in finals competition:

Numbers and fingerprints marked the floor during Matrix Open’s (Gold – 97.750) performance of “Unsteady.” Members danced around benches to portions of the songs “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors, “Heavy” by Linkin Park, and “1-800-273-8255” by Logic, in a performance that highlighted the suicide rate among teens. Ensemble members wore jumpsuits marked with a sparkly plaid and maroon design that matched the group’s floor. The performance left the audience without words as a woman jumped off a bench into the embrace of a friend.

Spirit Winter Percussion’s (Silver – 95.363) performance of “Timeless Hydro-Flections” took you through a tidal wave of emotions. With a giant whale tail, netting across the marimbas, and a floor that looked like the ocean, it was undeniable that you were near the sea when you watched this show. The members wore classic sailor uniforms as they took you through different stages on the sea, from being young and playing on the shore, to the frozen winters and destructive harsh seas. But the ensemble overcame these obstacles after they realized their resilience and strength. This group brought a colorful, yet heart-racing performance to UD Arena.

Infinity 2 (Bronze – 95.313) performed a version of the classic tale of “The Sword in the Stone” that you’ve never seen before. In their show, entitled “Legend of the Sword,” the castle gates opened for a funeral procession for the king. His sword was plunged into a stone, and the knights fought over the chance to be king. In their long silver and red costumes, these knights were ready for war. The group incorporated swords into their choreography for this animated, detailed show. In the end, a woman swordsmith, dressed in dirty work clothes, pulled the sword out of the stone and assumed the reign as king. The audience was on fire for this energetic performance.

ConneXus (4th – 94.750) took you to space with their show, “The Interstellar Medium.” Members began their performance decked in black from head to toe with masked faces, but took them off during the show to reveal orange and blue jumpsuits— a perfect harmony of the two planets that covered their intergalactic floor. The use of flags laden with patterns of the galaxy left the audience awestruck. These performers had energy that was out of this world.

It’s time to wake up, and INov8 Winter Percussion’s (5th – 93.475) show, “Time Bomb,” made sure you did. This high-energy performance had the audience’s hearts racing. Members were dressed in red, silver and black uniforms, which matched the floor that screamed phrases like “wake up” and “there is no mercy.” The performers’ energy was contagious. When time was up, the bomb went off, and glitter flew into the air. The audience screamed for this high-energy, in-your-face performance.

When you watched Bakersfield College (6th – 93.388), you felt like you were in the heart of a Native American tribal ceremony. The group’s show, “Primitiv,” was a visually beautiful show that brought a unique sound to UD Arena. Members of the group marched in gray, native-inspired costumes on a blue, ocean-like floor. The group used triangular props in their choreography, which created a visually beautiful effect. The show ended with loud, deep sounds of a drum, which made the audience burst with applause.

The performers of Freedom Percussion (7th – 91.625) were dropped off on an island, where they’re told they will die. These prisoners were dressed in gray, numbered uniforms and were handcuffed for their show, “The Island.” The group used unique props, like chained cymbals and wooden planks, to explain the torture of their prison life. This group performed a dark show that left the audience cheering.

If you’re one for escape rooms, this would be the ultimate test. River City Rhythm’s (8th – 90.450) performance of “One Way Out” left your heart racing and your palms sweating as the members tried to find their way out of an abandoned building without success. The members wore blue and brown costumes covered in chains, and the floor reflected a gray, dilapidated building. A voice taunted the group to find their way out, but the clock was ticking. When you thought the members had figured out how to escape, shock collars illuminated around their necks and sent a volt of electricity through the performers, disabling them from breaking free. The crowd was on its feet for River City Rhythm’s performance at UD Arena.

Civitas Independent’s (9th – 89.763) “Beauty in the Beast,” brought a new twist to the classic tale. The woman who was the “beauty” learned in the end that she was really the beast. Members of the ensemble wore tattered tan shirts and blue jeans as they scrambled to get away from the “beauty,” who was dressed in a red jumpsuit. Five mirrors sat at the back of the floor, where the woman spent a great deal of the show idolizing herself, when she wasn’t bullying the other members. Civitas Independent’s performance was entertaining, and energized the audience.

You don’t want to mess with these matadors. Rhythmic Force Percussion’s (10th – 89.500) show, “Matador,” took you through an intense fight between a matador and a bull. The Spanish sounds and the floor that looked like a fighting ring made you feel like you were in the heart of Spain. The uniforms were black and gold with red matador capes, and the music transported the audience to another country.

“Torn” by Legacy Performing Arts Percussion (11th – 87.775) left you feeling like you were just separated from someone you love. The performance started with a tender, emotional moment between a couple, and ended with the members tearing the floor in half, separating the woman from the man she loved. The members wore white, half torn costumes as they marched across the graffiti-marked floor to the emotional music.

The show “Loud and Clear” was exactly that — loud and clear. Revelation (12th – 86.175) members wore uniforms covered in a blue geometric pattern, which translated to the floor with a pattern of triangles. Their see-through snare drums surprised the audience by illuminating midway through the show. This group’s unique music made for an excited and loud audience.

It’s time to make a love connection. The show, “Love Connection,” by Red Wave Indoor (13th – 85.050) made the audience laugh, smile and dance. The members wore teal and red uniforms that matched their blue floor with a heart that read “love connection” in the corner. The audience cheered as they met bachelors one through three, and helped decide who was Mr. Right. Red Wave Indoor was named the fan favorite for PIO finals competition.

Audio Theater (14th – 84.075) took you to the Middle East with their performance of “Be Careful What You Wish For…,” which told you a story of a man who became greedy after being given three wishes by a genie. The man wishes for fortune, power, and then, to become a genie himself. Some of the performers were dressed in blue genie outfits covered in gold jewelry as they danced to the classic Arabian sounds. The props and floor made it look like you were inside a palace, which was covered in white and gold detailing. The show ended by trapping the man in a genie’s lamp, conquering his selfish desire for more.

The neon streams of light that came from Breakthrough Indoor Percussion (15th – 83.925) brought a colorful performance to UD Arena. The floor, costumes, drum heads and prism props that lined the back of the floor screamed of the colorful streams of light in their show, “Prizm.” The sounds of an electric guitar took you back to the 80s as you watched this fun, colorful group. The music was exciting and the group’s performance left the audience energized.

About the Author: Kathryn Hardison is a journalism student at the University of Missouri, majoring in news reporting and minoring in political science. Prior to college, Kathryn went to Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri, where she marched the flute in the fall and played the cymbals for the Kickapoo Indoor Drumline. During her four years in marching band, Kathryn competed with the Kickapoo Golden Arrow Marching Band, of which she later became the flute soloist and junior and senior flute section leader. Kathryn’s career in the Kickapoo Indoor Drumline included placing 8th in PSA World Championship finals in 2015 and a reclassification to PSO. After college, Kathryn plans to write for a newspaper.